It was high time we decided where to go. I and my photographer friend had been discussing what could be a good, non-typical place to rest our feet, have a cup of coffee and pass time on a Saturday evening. Of all places, we decided to go on a long drive to the newly constructed Bengaluru International Airport.
After relaxing with a cup of tropical iceberg from Café coffee Day, at quarter to three in the morning we were standing in front of the International arrivals. What a fascinating place to be! It turned out as a perfect spot to watch people with their overwhelming emotions, various moods and attitudes.
A month back, I was at the Dulles airport, Washington D.C. At 7:00 am, I entered through the sliding doors, following the signage took the escalator one level down, turned left and I was at the International Arrivals Hall, once again. I parked myself in one of the 60 chairs places in six rows bang opposite to a barricaded door, through which passengers from landing International flights were to make their appearance.
The scene at the hall was rather dull. A few were sleeping; some walking in slow motion as if they were compelled to; some staring blankly as if to daydream; put together, it seemed like a pencil sketch of a crowded hall, all characters looking the same, blended and lost in the background.
A wakeup call came in the form of a flight arrival announcement. Each of the characters that sat around me woke up with a jerk and had their eyes anxiously fixed on that one door.
As passengers came out, what had seemed so far like the unidentifiable, emotionless faces around me, were now a part of scenes enacting complex human emotions.
The girl who was religiously texting with her head down till now ran and hugged a man probably in his late twenties carrying huge rucksack. She hugged him tight and kissed him not caring who was watching them. It clearly dint matter to her. She looked happy and they walked hand in hand towards the exit, smiling.
In a wheelchair was an elderly gentleman in his late forties accompanied by a gentleman of the same age. They were received by a family of four. It neither looked like a happy reunion or a casual visit. One of the women hugged the one in wheelchair and cried. Others too seemed to share their grief. He only made hand gestures as if to console the crying woman. Like all others who were watching them, I too hoped that things would be alright.
Hard to miss were the cabin crew members of Ethiad and Emirates, with their head held high, prim attire and bright make up. They walked with their trademark attitude, aware that all eyes were on them even if it were for a few seconds.
I noticed after hearing one of them scream, apparently with joy! It must have been a reunion of sisters after many years. They hugged, jumped, laughed and made everyone smile with their crazy little dance before walking towards the exit.
Since so many balloons were floating around with ‘welcome back’ written on it, I was curious to know who has this family come to receive. He was tall man and looked clearly drained of all energy. On seeing the family he broke down in tears, hugged the kids and would not let go. He had surely missed them. He exchanged a brief kiss on the cheek with elders and they all walked to the exit, he now talking non-stop.
An hour thus passed watching people and after cross checking if I had received all clients on my list, it was time for me to leave.
But I had a question. Which is the one place where human feelings expressed are real and honest? Could it be the coffee shops? Could it be hospitals or places of worship? It seemed to me that the answer is ‘International arrivals hall’ after all. I will remember this one hour at Dulles airport for the true and most sincere human emotions that were ever expressed anywhere till date.