Holy Smoke in My Holy Land (restored)
The following is one more experience that I want to share with you from my recent visit to my holy-land, INDIA.
Every smoker who had to travel for a long time in air, waits patiently for that taste of smoke at next stop. I am not an exception. Most of my air travel segments were uneventful but this one incident was different.
After an awesome dinner from Air India, I had a nice nap for 3 hrs and then I waited for the first stop enroute to India: destination, Frankfurt, Germany. I was optimistic about finding a smoking zone in there. We landed safely in Frankfurt at 8AM local time. We will have to get down and wait for an hour and half. As I landed, the only thing in my mind was: ‘where and how to smoke?’ While everyone in the queue waiting to transit, I have walked to other side of the gate looking for smoking zone. I saw a guy standing at a corner and I have guessed that he is a smoker. 🙂
Me: Do you speak English?
Guy: [&%&&^#$?] (Apparently not. So, we had the rest of conversation in sign language.)
Me: [Gestured with my hand that I want to smoke.]
Guy: [Took out the cigarette box and confirmed with me that both are communicating the same.]
Me: [Nodded and signed him to show me the place?]
Guy: [Smiled and want me to walk with him]
At 100 ft distance there is a smoking oasis. After having my first smoke after 9 hrs, this happy soul was back to flight.
After nine more hrs of fag-fasting flight to Mumbai and a safe landing, I was excited because a) I am in India, my motherland and, b) I will find a way to smoke. I had to transit from international arrivals to domestic departures by bus. At domestic airport everyone started rushing-in, but I looked for a place in an open area to smoke.
I wanted to ask someone there before I lighted the cigarette. I asked a passer-by security guard walking away from me if it was OK to smoke here. That guard ignored me or could not hear me. I took my chances and lit my smoke and I saw the same guard with a gun (think Ak-47) running towards me with a real harsh face. I do not speak Hindi, but I can understand.
Guard: Put down the cigarette!!!
Me: I was really tired and in that pissed off situation, I lost my voice.
G: PUTTTT DOWN !!!
M: I finally put it down
G: How dare you to smoke in airport! It’s a smoke free zone!
M: I am sorry, I am returning after 3 yrs and I thought its allowed outside.
G: Come with me and you will be fined and I need to talk to My manager.
M: Relaxed by then and walked with him inside the airport.
Inside, there was one stronger guard with a gun and looking at me with a wicked smile. I was thinking that I will be starting my first day in the Holy-land with a bribe. Then the manager came and asked me ‘why did you do you this?’ and I explained that ‘I am not aware of the rules here since I am back after few years. I am sorry for what I did and ready to pay the fine’. Manager wanted the guard to get satisfied and I looked at the guard and said.
”I am really sorry for what had happened and I am ready to pay the fine” rather than offering him some money. He was probably still thinking about his options. Then the manager wanted me to rush to the gate since I need to get a transit flight to Hyderabad. Thank GOD! I am out of there.
After finishing the security checks at Mumbai and I was finally back to catch connecting flight to HYD – after another 4 hours of wait. I wanted to smoke again and went to find a bathroom for that. I saw a supervisor there and asked him if there is a place to smoke. He smiled at me and said ‘100 rupees! If you go to a different gate its 150 rupees’
I was happy, super happy.