Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Airports...

The best thing I can say about New Delhi International Airport is that it is the gateway to all sorts of romantic places:
However, it is - and I use the following term with a full knowledge of the poetic glories and possibilities of the English language - a butthole.

I wish to stress this buttholeness is not at all the fault of the cleaning staff (typical member pictured below) who ceaselessly throughout the day do the best they can wielding the whispy little brooms with which they have been provided. I have never in my highly-traveled life seen an airport cleaner circle about looking for something to do so relentlessly and untireingly.

Frankly, the only way this place will be any better is if they either (A) Powerwash it with Lysol and then tear the building down and rebuild it or (B) tear the building down already. Instead, Indian authorities have in their wisdom chosen option (C) which is to put up large signs saying "Pardon our appearance while we renovate. We are adding more retail stores which you'll enjoy so much you will wish your flight was delayed!" Honest to god. I'm not making this up.

Besides the available destinations and the cleaning ladies, the only other thing I liked about the Delhi airport were the Middle Eastern women in full burquas. I've seen women in burquas briefly before at a distance when traveling but never up close and personal, and so had all sorts of feminist preconceptions which are now smashed to pieces. Downtrodden is not the word. Forceful and domineering is more like it.

The baggage security men were thoroughly cowed by one of them as she shot out an imperious hand giving directions. And I saw an entire raft of alarmed airport staff running at the bidding of another as she fretted over an aged relative in a wheelchair.

For an airline traveler, getting to Nepal was a relief though. Both of Kathmandu's airport terminals (international and domestic) are much nicer than Delhi's are. Admittedly, Nepal copes with perhaps 10,000 travelers per month per terminal which is a tinier load by an order of magnitude than Delhi. Both Kathmandu terminals are also fairly old. They feel like a timewarp -- a US airport in the 1950s, although far more worn out.

Here you can see the check-in gate for Yeti airlines, with the old red luggage weighing machines.

And here's a view of Kathmandu domestic terminal cleaning lady, complete with a New Delhi-inspired skimpy broom, as she walks past a pile of diesel cannisters in the main lobby. My husband estimates that's about a ton of fuel. Well, I guess it's as secure there as anywhere.

No comments: