How I Spent Friday

Woke up at an obscene 5:00 a.m. to catch a 7 o’clock Jet Airways flight to Nagpur. For work. They wanted me to attend some kind of consumer research. I wanted to snuggle deeper into my blanket and sleep. You could say it was a conflict of motives.

But go I did. And this time, I got it right. Dad dropped me at the right terminal 45 minutes before take-off and I managed to complete all formalities well before time. Naturally, the flight took off late.

I didn’t mind too much. Because I had an aisle seat and in-flight entertainment, baby! And I don’t just mean the cute stewards, hot pilots and the fact that one stewardess was called ‘Minty’. (I bet everybody gets fresh with her.)

No, I’m referring to a small digital screen where I could catch episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Everybody Loves Raymond, Joey and whatnot, which I watched while nibbling my disappointingly vegetarian breakfast.

An hour and a half later, I was at Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport. I could tell right away we’d left Bombay far behind – there were tractors parked near the Arrival lounge.

My companion on this trip turned out to be, contradictory to what the servicing guys had hoped, an un-single, unattractive, unamusing South Indian man, who chain-smkoed Goldflakes, didn’t eat airline food and was friends with Brainybong, the Goon’s fiancé. (There’s a small-world post coming up soon. Watch this space.)

Anyway, the temperature was about 15 degrees, but I was quite warm in my turtleneck, jeans and cord jacket. When Dad first heard I was going to Nagpur, he asked in all seriousness, “But do you have time to get a dress stitched from your blanket?” Yes, he’s a real riot.

Nagpur city looks and sounds a lot like Pune village with wide, uncrowded roads and quiet residential areas being the trademark. It is also unbelievably clean.

The research was at someone’s home and we spent a good 3-4 hours listening to ladies and lasses yapping in Marathi. Lunch happened at Haldiram’s – chhole bhature and paapri chaat. And then, armed with about a kilo of orange barfi and other sweets, I was back in the research room.

Consumer research is a real eye-opener. You think you know about your audience, their likes and dislikes. You talk about insight and motives and aspirations, but the truth is this: you know squat. Their lives are completely different from yours. And the only way around that is to get your mind out off your plush city lifestyle and into theirs. Period.

Anyway, after it was all finally over, we (that’s me, Smokey and the moderator) had about 5 hours to kill. You read right. Five entire hours. 300 minutes of utter nothing-to-do-ness. So we did something totally logical, which would’ve never ever struck me on my own. We watched a movie.

Admittedly, the movie was Bhagam Bhaag and I had to shell out 140 bucks to watch it at Nagpur’s only multiplex. But it took care of three of the five hours, although by the end of it I felt like grabbing Priyadarshan by the collar and screaming, “Why? For the love of god, why?”

By 7:30, we were at the airport. So were Shashi and Sanjana Kapoor. And several star-struck hand-wavers. The flight was delayed, but mercifully just by half an hour or so. And also entirely uneventful – no in-flight entertainment, but yes, a window-seat, a non-veg. meal, severe sleep deprivation and random thoughts centering on how I wouldn’t mind having a job that lets me be on the committee which selects pert-bottomed pursers for Jet.

On landing, I discovered that I wasn’t actually Superwoman and called BabyAuntie to tell her I couldn’t make it for her birthday party in town. Dad and mum took me home from the airport

And so ended the day – with a hot shower, a glass of warm milk with honey, a F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode, body-numbing exhaustion and a welcoming bed.

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