For most of my life I have had flying dreams, at first just learning to take off, ascend, somersault, eventually choose a direction and head there, over continents and oceans, espying mystic landmarks below to guide me like temples, towers, serpentine river and guardian mountain, then land in the labyrinth dark jungle of the Universal Unconscious, on some crazed quest, trying to find my Self, (yes, I love hippie psycho-babble.)
The last few years I haven't had these dreams as I now have become an expert at actually, physically, flying wherever I will. Tho how tedious it was to fly Malaysian, 2 days, endless waiting in the airports, from now on I go Singapore Airlines, they get me to Delhi, India inside of one day, I arrive the day I left, and they serve any favored booze all along the way, not just halfway, with no movies, like I just boringly did with Malay. But flying into night-time India was miraculous, the darkness below lit up by star-bursts of countless cities, like frozen fire-works, the awesome beauty of the Other had begun.
I have been to Indhira Ghandi Airport many times, once there was a riot out the front and I couldn't get my luggage thru the squalling rabble and into the turbulent departure lounge but my arrival this year takes the crumby cake for chaos, frayed nerves and suffocating crush. We were made to wait an extra half-hour in the plane with no oxygn, I had "Final Destinaton" fears, flames sweeping thru and me trampled in the panic, but eventually we were unceremoniously dumped onto the tarmac, where creaky buses picked up the multitudes and ferried us around and around the landing fields, all of us patient and resigned, we'd now arrived in India, it was to be expected, weaving in and about endless baggage-trains, backed-up planes, convoys of buses, trucks, machines, cars all stacked up and dragged about willly-nilly with an army of worker ants marching in between waving their arms like antennas, and countless befuddled passengers herded about like refugees from "2012", finally we were ejected at a doorway in the bowels of the terminus: what the hell was going on?
Oh, it was an "Avian Flu" scare, for high-tech India there were no infra-red cameras on gangways to detect the feverish like there was in Kuala Lumpur, here just a crabby doctor and dinky nurse sitting at a table to face the thousands of arrivals crowding in from many planes, so overwhelmed and dumbfounded they'd let their requisite face-masks slip below their chins. We were all made to fill out forms declaring we felt OK and designating our seat number, which I'd forgotten and just wrote whatever came to mind. The nurse didn't even look at me or my form when she stamped it, she was distracted by someone further down the convulsive line. I staggered thru the hordes, made it thru customs in a flash, unlike the Indians who took forever to get their passports checked, the stern old stamp-wallah just glancing at me and muttering, "Chello!" as if he knew an incorrigible India-freak when he saw one.
As if the cyclone that had just missed Mumbai had instead centred on Indhira Ghandi Air terminus, the halls were in an uproar, all the baggage carousels had wailing luggageless travelers clambering upon them, as per usual my cheap bag was the last one thru the curtain, but at least it came. I fell down the dreaded escalator, remembering the horror of a few years previous when a crowd of arrivals stampeded down it and pushed those ahead into a carelessly left-open hatch, the machinery below mangling one old man's legs but totally tearing to bits a poor little girl, no one thinking to rush over and pres the OFF button at the base of the escalator rail. Yes, the awful finale to "The Final Destination in 3D" was a true incident, ripped from the front pages of Indian newspapers.
When I finally made it out the front exit, it had been 2 hours since my plane touched down, and the riot continued for many more miles, traffic banked up and horns honking, Indians wandering dazed in mobs and falling under the merciless wheels, some beat-up taxi had broken down in a heap in the middle of the entrance and nobody was bothering to push it out of the way.
My taxi driver had a boy sitting next to him and I asked who he was, telling him I knew about the hideous murder of an Australian women seven years earlier who'd allowed a second man to enter the car with her when she left the airport, she was taken out the back, ghastly raped, killed and robbed. "This is my little brother and that killer was not a true taxi driver!" "Yeah, I trust you, your brother looks little enough." He was teaching his brother to drive and roared onto the freeway heading into New Delhi with the kid changing gears for him and, while steering with his knees, he hospitably rolled a joint of charas to ease my tension, shared his water with me and beedis to smoke furiously after my aeroplane abstinence.
We zoomed past lots of great architecture, medieval Mughal, British Colonial and funky Post-modern. I was high and happy, like Lucifer the fallen angel arriving in the garden of earthly paradise. Oh yes, I've landed, this is India, maybe collapsing under her own great weight, but how I love her!