|Srilankan Economy Class|
Picture courtesy- wikipedia
Saudi Arabia is a country where there is total prohibition. Drinking or taking alcohol within its territory is severely punishable, sometimes by death! Still we find many raids that yield tonnes of catamine tablets and locally distilled arrack called moonshine. Moon shine can knock the sunshine out of your heads if you are caught. Travelling from Saudi Arabia to India on any airline other than Saudia is a test to your nasal allergic skills. It can check your nausea levels, head aches and your anti- alcoholic reactions. Travelling with a male companion is easy, you are saved, almost shielded by your husband. But if you are travelling alone, alas...you are doomed. Most of the passengers are single males who are on labour work visas returning home on year end vacations, some after three or four years. Having worked in the hot desert for years together, the speed with which these people check-in is almost amazing. They can pull, push, jump and at times beg you to carry their luggage as yours! Their luggage consists of anything from soaps and shampoos to wall mountable plasma TVs! Beware, if you are caught with their dutiable goods, you are ruining your vacation. With new jeans, tees, shoes and at times with sunglasses with stickers(!) their faces gleam with happiness and sweat.
|Cartoon Stock images- courtesy|
Do you think they are encased in bliss of seeing their near and dear ones? Oh No! you are mistaken. Our poor dears act so smart on entering the aircraft and settling down in their seats. The take-off is smooth and when your stomach starts rumbling begging for dinner, these people crane their necks to see the stewardesses. Probably awaiting dinner? No...It takes well about an hour to be out of Saudi airspace and then arrives the babies- beer, gin, vodka, whiskey- you name it, they have it! I admire the deftness in which the stewardesses handle the glasses with their lacquered nails and the swiftness with which they pour and mix. Almost giddy with hunger, i wait for the smell of dinner. But there is no sign of it arriving. Glass after glass or tin after tin, the alcohol almost runs along the cabin and the feel and smell mixed with hunger is sure to piss you off. There are some who keep on ringing the stewardess' for " Give me more". The women try to say its only a little amount and these guys make sure to drink atleast a half! Persistent ones are pacified by 'bouncers' of the cabin crew, its really funny to watch some raising their hands above the seats constantly! Finally when the glasses are removed, i feel elated...now i can have some food at last.
Not so soon, dear! I try to enter the loo for a break. Damn! The entire flight seems to be on queue there, the miserable ones throwing up and the more miserable ones waiting to throw up. And i tail the queue hoping to enter it in half an hour. And when the gates open up finally, the stench of alcohol is so much that i feel intoxicated and mushy! Without entering the rest room, i return back to my seat, choking back my apple juice. My husband keeps the air sickness bag ready and without a drop of alcohol, i enjoy(!) the aftermath of a severe drink. When the food arrives at last, i find it tasteless and end up wasting it totally. Relieved that all drunkards are asleep, i try to get some sleep, but the snoring of beer- filled homo sapiens is almost deafening! My headphone helps me shut out the background noise, i look around to see some of them almost hang on the seats like baboons sleeping. The worst is yet to come! The flight lands in Colombo and that second we hear a hundred clicks of safety belts. There is such a hustle bustle to exit the aircraft, you get lost like a piece of log in a tsunami! You need not take a single step, your dear drunk brothers will safely pick you up and push you till you reach the entry. And the change of flight is a nightmare, our brothers again make a beeline for duty free shops to buy more alcohol! After further loading(!), we board the connecting flight. It is again a push pull fight to enter and exit the flight and by the time i exit the immigration counter, i am exhausted. Then comes the fight for trolleys and picking up luggage. When i finally arrive at the airport exit gate, i thank my stars that i am safe from the mob of unruly drunkards who now hurry on standard and matador vans with an entire village that has come to pick them up from the airports! I am allergic to those three words now- "GIVE ME MORE!!!"