Or, How Not To Spend A Saturday.
Having skipped the Inauguration (we had someone else's passes; were instructed NOT to say how we came by them; it was in the morning on a school day; I had to be at the University just a couple of hours later; there were politicians going to make speeches) I had to promise to buy tickets and take my son to the last day of the Aviation Show.
Bought tickets. Armed with sunscreen, bottles of water and caps, we left early. Not sure of entrances and Gate numbers, we asked a cop standing undera brightly decorated arch. After some fluttering of hands and some typical 'but you don't have this pass, you need to go so many kilometres away to buy it and return here', they let us into the parking lot. It was empty. Not people dispensing tickets, no people at all, actually. So we parked under a tree and having decided to ignore written instructions, walked into Gate 5 (meant for VIPs) with a Gate 1,3 and 4 ticket.
They let us in. No, really. After just a couple of minutes of hand waving etc., they let us in through this gate and I can tell you now that we got to walk over one dusty red carpet, up a few steps and to the pavilion where the business end of the aviation show was being conducted.
Not knowing any better, we walked into this first. It was standard-issue trade fair stuff. In two minutes, we were out. My son was, at this point, still skipping along next to me in excitement. Turning the corner, we found the planes.
Now, we knew that the Airbus A 380 was there only for one day and this day was not that one day. Still and all, it was with extreme disappointment that we viewed the six or seven planes assembled for our viewing pleasure (no photographs. I stook the instructions on the ticket seriously and went without camera, handbag etc. I should ahve known better. Everyone there was brandishing something that could take photographs. Bah.).
One little plane was something that folks assembled like a model plane. I'm not sure it could fly, and they weren't going to prove it to us. It just sat there looking frail. Just as well it was hot and still. Just as well there were no Big Bad Wolves around.
So: small plane. Boeing 777, three choppers in different colours, one mid-sized plane.
"Amma, I must say I'm a little disappointed, arent you?"
"Really? How unahppy are you? Aren't you the one who wanted to stay from 10am to 5pm?"
"Ya, but there's nothing to see. I think we should leave. This is boring."
To distract him, we walked around the enclosure to where some more standard issue planes were resting. We asked if any of these planes were expected to actually fly or if they were just going to sit there. Apparently one just had and others would. We waited.
In the next 45 minutes, this si what we saw:
1. One plane taking off never to return.
2. One propeller plane that flew low, made another pass over the runway and settled down to soem seirous looping-the-loop before ti landed.
3. One flight simulator video played for a group of 20 people at a time, while the real flight simulator stood next to us looking strong and silent.
4. A History of Civil Aviation in India museum where there were uninspiring photos of JRD and various planes; a wall of the Maharaja's ads; some models of planes. Someone came and gave the kid a booklet about planes in India.
5. Two guys in rainbow coloured parathutes doing a jump.
6. One helicopter taking off.
11 am and already it felt as if we'd been there too long. We decided to leave. This is where the nightmare began.
Someone directed us to a wrong exit. Once we were out, we realised that (1) getting to our parking meant walking and walking and walking (2) given the crowds thronging and pleading and offering bribes to the cops, getting back in was not an option. So we walked. And walked and tripped and walked. The entrance was jammed with people and vehicles. The main road was worse, with two wheelers on every inch of what passed for the pavement.
It took us half an hour to walk tot he parking and another hour to get out from there to just pas the airport (a distance of 200 metres at most). We were the lucky ones. The traffic jam that was just beginning wouldn;t unsnarl until late in the evening. Apparently they were expecting 30,000 visitors, but 50,000 or more turned up, Finally the cops ahd ot request the organisers to stop selling tickets. There was a mild lathi charge to disperse annoyed people who'd already waited in line for hours.
It was a mess. We got back at 4, having spent a sum total of one hour at the show and three in the traffic.
Never again. Really.
In other news, we had lunch at Paradise and since the kid could not finish an entire biryani on his own, I helped him. This makes it the first time in nine years that I was having meat of any description. Is that a 'yay!' I hear? I was suprised to not feel any ickiness - I kind of thought I'd feel this great revulsion and all, but nothing happened. Huh.