I am exhausted. And for the first time in 3 months, Pickwick’s not to blame for it. I am recuperating from my first travel experience alone with Pickwick, and guess what- he was the best thing about the entire affair.
Now there comes a time in every new mother’s life when she has the take the bold step to venture forth with her young ‘un unassisted. Well, suffering from a massive superiority complex, I thought I’d make this landmark occasion more challenging by adding enough luggage to the equation to single-handedly overload the plane. I packed not just my entire wardrobe, but also Pickwick’s along with his odds, ends, toys and bathtub. To top it off the hand baggage (which contained all the rations for self and Pickwick in case of a nuclear holocaust) had to be precariously balanced- one on each shoulder. Remove one, and you would just topple over like the proverbial pin. Thusly armed, I proceed to the check-in counter, leaving Pickwick for one last time in my parents’ care. I was fully confident of getting the royal treatment- on account of being upgraded to business class, thanks to hubby’s frequent flier card, and being the hapless mother of a young papoose.
I was greeted by a stony eyed manager who takes one look at me and decides I’m one on the bourgeois elite and mentally knitted my name into his woolies.
Me (smile wavering slightly at the stony look): Hi… I’ve already tele-checked in. Could you give me some assistance? I’m travelling with an infant…
Stone man: Eh? I’m sorry, but we can’t upgrade you. Your husband not part of the multi-platinum class, so your voucher’s no good.
Me (a bit slow on the uptake): But I have a voucher. I’ve tele-checked in, my ticked, upgrade and seat were confirmed. Now about assistance with my infant…
Stone man: Sorry. Pay the difference if you want to sit up front. Next.
Me: Next?? There’s no one behind me you daft man! I’m the only one in business class, so just upgrade me!!
That last remark didn’t sit to well with the desi Defarge and he ignored me, but I could just picture the knitting needles clicking away at a feverish pace.
Five minutes later, after a frantic phone call to hubby, his irate phone call to the airline, and their livid phone call to stone man
Stone man: yes. You can sit up front. But there’s no upgrade voucher for your infant. He sits in economy.
Me: eh? He’s 3 months old! You can’t just pat him on the head and ask him to proceed up the aisle!
Stone Man: Next!
Another five minutes and frantic, irate and livid phone calls respectively…
Stone Man: Yes. He can sit with you.
Me: No! really? Gee thanks! Now about my luggage…
Stone man: next!
I gave up. I trudged up to my parents, like a wounded but triumphant soldier, to see my parents struggling to keep Pickwick’s volumes down. Pickwick in his finer moments has been known to render unsuspecting salesmen passing by the house temporarily deaf. One minute they’re walking along, merrily whistling a tune, the only thing on their minds being how to outrun the subsequent pet Pom, and the next they’re tottering away in shock trying to make sense on the ringing in their ears. Now at such times, I discovered quite by accident that the only thing that distracts him, is to do a little jig with him (to the latest Himmesh Reshammiya number, preferably)
So imagine my distress when I came across panicky Parents with Pickwick in the ‘Naach Chhamiya’ mood. Of course, having no alternative, I tried to surreptitiously do the cha-cha-cha mumbling ‘oh oh aashiqui’ under my breath at the airport lounge (I distinctly saw a few firings trying to capture this authentic Indian experience on their still cams). Mercifully, by this time Pickwick had calmed down some, and loaded with baggage and Pickwick, I proceeded for my Sec-Check, bidding a final adieu to wailing parents who were too busy to notice, since they were bidding goodbye to squirming Pickwick.
I finally made it in safely onto the plane. The journey from then on was largely uneventful, barring stray incidents like unscreened baggage, threat of offloading and the insistence of a flight purser that I nurse Pickwick during take off and landing. (Pickwick had his own ideas about that last bit). On landing in Mumbai, I was so relieved to touch ground in one piece, I decided not to tempt fate for quite some time, and have never ventured out alone with Pickwick since.