Getting India on the Move was if The Man from Madras Musings recollects correctly, the first book he read of yours, Chief, and let him add it was love at first sight. And since then what a beautiful relationship we have had. Since the time you wrote that book, Chief, India has been getting around quite a bit as is evident from the swarms of our brethren to be seen at various international airports! MMM was recently at quite a few and in all of them he saw nothing else but, Indians are on the move. And how!
Nowhere else is the colour and chaos of this community in migration more in evidence than in our very own Chennai International Airport, run by the beloved Atrocious Airports of India Limited. And among the first things to strike you are the number of wheelchairs being er… wheeled about. And that brought to MMM’s mind another book of yours, Chief – Moving India on Wheels. Inspired by your book titles, Indians by and large, appear to first be moving and then only on wheels!
Now, before the bulk of Madras Musings’ readership descends on MMM with cries of being insensitive, let MMM assure one and all that he is aware of people with mobility, visibility and stability issues, all of which necessitate the use of wheelchairs. To all such people MMM extends his sympathies and understanding and hopes that they will get well soon or at least be at peace with their afflictions. But he is simply unable to believe that so many people on a single flight would need wheelchairs.
This suspicion was strengthened when MMM found several of those perched on wheelchairs and being moved about to be pictures of health. MMM said as much to his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, who put MMM properly in his place by stating that he ought not to be so insensitive.
But for once MMM was able to prove her wrong. For shortly after MMM made a headcount of the numbers on wheels, he heard a commotion to his rear. More and more people were arriving, apparently all of whom needed wheels to ‘locomote’ so to speak, and the airport was running short.
And so the more able-bodied had to be asked to give up their carriages and navigate the last and, perhaps most difficult section, namely the stairs and then the aerobridge, on foot. Some did get up, though not without persuasion and plenty of grumbling. MMM found all of them walking about with perfect ease, each one carrying a suitcase that in shipping parlance would have qualified for a bulk cargo container, such being its size. It transpires that it is this consignment of probably pickles, savouries, prayer books, pots and pans, a mixer and a wet grinder or two that really necessitates the wheelchair. All of those wheeled about, without exception, were then found to be having an enormous box neatly tucked between their legs.
MMM took aside an airline employee and asked if his surmise was correct. To this the other simply replied by stating that being in the service industry was a tough job and the worst frustration was not being able to call off an all-too-visible con. MMM nodded in sympathy, wondering all along as to how those enormous containers would be stuffed into the overhead baggage cabins once inside the aircraft.
Under the able pen of the Man from Madras Musings, Chennai Airport is a saga by itself. Here are some more stories on it: