JournalismPakistan.com July 21, 2018
There is nothing more soul destroying than standing at an airport carousel waiting for your luggage. Last week, I was doing just that - except no bag was forthcoming.
Blue bags, red bags, bags with zips, matching bags, cheap holdalls, all of them cascading past and being picked up and people peeling off like Spitfires in the sun leaving the waiting ones desolate. Even the newly-coined friendship 'forever' with the person in 3B to your 3A on the flight and the sudden end to that relationship as he gets his bag has occurred and he has gone, never to be seen again, name forgotten, the only diff being he got his bag.
And then trundling in the distance is that greyish greenish bluish suitcase with the red ribbon and you heave a sigh of relief. Except that when it reaches you, the nametag says Dhanansahai, and it is a twin of yours but it is not yours so you reluctantly let it go and down the road (or track) it goes where Mr D Sahai gleefully collects his red-ribboned buddy and off he goes. By now, the 173 passengers on board are melting away to a handful and are no longer Spitfires in the sun, more like rats deserting the sinking ship. You.
Now, there are six of us and it is like a bizarre game of musical chairs as one sorry-looking bag comes into view; there is a shriek of excitement, and now there are five.
Finally, there are only three of us left and the lady representative is glued to her mobile asking her superior to come down but he isn't getting off his Olympian mound and he seems relieved there are only three idiots sans baggage. One of the idiots is me (if you haven't guessed that by now), and the feeling of desolation is complete. There is something so sad about losing your bag even if all it contained are unwashed clothes, a squeezed and done toothpaste tube and a used razor. It is mine and you cannot lose it. Yes, they can.
At this point, while the rep is wishing she had gotten married and had babies instead or taken up wrestling with Mary Kom, along comes a baggage handler supervisor who cheerfully announces there are no more bags on the flight or in the containers and he looks so pleased with himself at this discovery, like he found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ha, what are you going to do, huh?
All those who have ever lost their luggage (actually that is so untrue: we did not lose our luggage, the airline did) will tell you that the first thing the airline does is pass the buck. It was not their fault; it was the fault of the airport from where you embarked on your journey.
Okay, where do we go from here? To the form filling department where, of course, they have run out of forms. I have this thing stuck on the back of my ticket stub which says 'Bikravohr' (for some absurd reason, your full name is never on your baggage tag, always some letters missing), followed by 9755443330021 which I assume is the computer code. Now, if you have the computer code does it not lead to the details filled in when I bought this ticket and paid for it online and why do we now have to go through this painful and pointless exercise?
Point is that once you have landed, the airlines have a sudden drop of interest in you. More like a steep fall. This one is famous for its cute sayings and its colorful slogans and its smart crew and on-time performance and its enriched budget airline experience with more legroom for a price - and, by and large, it means well and stays true to promise.
But talk to them about finding luggage and the pretty slogans and clever in-flight magazine promises vanish into thin air. You are pretty much on your own.
Now, into hour two without even the courtesy of a glass of water and no one to oversee your handbags and duty free shopping just in case you wish to go to the loo and a fourth gentleman moaning how his large painting installation brought for an exhibition is now a wreckage even though it was marked 'this side up' and 'fragile' and the lady has no clue what to do.
Finally, one senior fellow comes along, looks at us accusingly, like this was somehow our fault and we deserve to be in this condition and says, we are checking with the point of departure but so far there is no news.
The man with the ripped painting says, but who will pay for the painting? He is suitable ignored.
It is now hour three and the lady who has done absolutely nothing to help except escort us to this cubbyhole of an office is now off duty.
You'd think they would at least give you a tube of toothpaste and a brush.
Not a brush off.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
Pakistan Observer, November 1, 2016