Christmas break and rush on air-ports are complimentary. So was the case this time as well. Even though the Christmas break has still technically not started, the rush has crippled the air port service. Heathrow being the busiest (though it does not have any bearing on the quality of service offered) was no different. This Virgin Atlantic plane is just waiting its turn at one of the 55 gates at Terminal 3 of the Heathrow, of course all flooded and occupied by a sea of humanity, waiting for their turns to fly back home in the company of their near and dear ones. [And as for a photograph, I could not take one because of the 'privacy' issues.]
But then this is just the tip of the ice-burg. The real rush was at the check-in counters where the queues were huge, man-power insufficient and perspiration levels running high (even with temperatures as low as 2 degrees), personal space decreasing (with people crumbling and huddling to make space for more people) and what not.
Having underwent the shady part, it was time for some relaxation and energy-boosting. Nothing better than a hazelnut hot chocolate at Star Bucks. Tasty and refreshing. Worth the 3.25 pounds spent. Free for two hours (thought better to reach early than miss the flight), it was time for a fun ride at the tax free shops. Starting from (couldn't have been better) the Victoria's Secret perfume collection (really I don't recall what they call it as) was like a trip to paradise. One (or may be two) of my senses were having a good time to pass though the display racks and sales representatives.
Then through the chocolate store, thinking if people ever wondered how many brands were there really, leading to the London toy and gift shop. Beautiful collector's editions up for sale but with exorbitant price tags. Could have bought them cheaper on Oxford Street (am really addicted to that place now). And then the homely Boots, leading to the CD shop. Displaying the latest DVDs, Bourne Ultimatum (I think only because it was shot at the Waterloo Station, UK) and cosmic gadgets, really a paradise for a geek.
Walking amidst the European fantasy and treats; wines and spirits were the special-of-the-day. Offering amazing Christmas discount (really just a reason to buy, not the cause) and glittering gift-wrappers, promising another festive season ahead. But in all, a nice lights-and-sounds show.
And then finally the boarding call and ahead to my flight. Two hours walking already, it took another half an hour to gate 42 (woefully at the rear end of my terminal but unfortunately the one where my flight was scheduled for). Another sea of humanity; all boarding at the same time for Toronto, Abu Dhabi, New Delhi and Auckland at parallel gates.
Ten hours of continuous flight (thanks to the Air India flight ahead whose pilot could not trace the run-way and delayed us by an hour) led us to the 'under renovation' IG Airport; seriously, a domestic one could have looked better. No ceilings, bare walls, stinking walk-aways, and seriously dis-proportionate allocation of man-power. More people at work then work and passengers combined. And then the conveyor-belts not running or running without informing the 'May I help you desk'. A chaotic landing indeed. Thanks to the green channel, didn't take long to come out. But overall a forgettable experience.
Finally, back to the same old dust-covered roads, honking cars (cannot recall when was the last time I heard a horn in London) erratic drivers and the same wonder-that-works environment. Really I love my country.