Since February/March this year, the world has been gripped by the Covid pandemic. Everyone across the globe has been confined to their homes with minimum activity in public/social areas. I was no exception to this, obviously, as I don’t believe I am invincible. I am unfortunately not one of those Avengers. So I stayed put – so much so that after getting married early in March, just before the madness was unleashed, I could not be with my partner for a long time. Now, however, things have become slightly better for the past couple of months or so; in the sense that travelling seems feasible. That is of course, not without a zillion new rules and precautions to be taken. And that is when me and my partner, we decided to take a short break within India to Hyderabad, travelling from Bombay.
Right from the time we booked the ticket, we were getting emails and texts about the new norms of air travel. To begin with, it was mandatory to do the web-check in. Just don’t bother reaching the airport without doing that. On the D-day, it was pretty smooth, getting to the check in counter (the masks were on the entire time). Once we entered the terminal, we had to go to the self-help kiosk at the International terminal, where our flight was supposed to depart from.
We punched in our details and took our bag tag as well as boarding pass. So what was left for us to do was to simply deposit the check in bag at the counter and show our boarding pass. Once that was done, the security check was as usual. It ideally should not have been. People should have been more mindful and careful and not constantly brush past others. People seemed to have completely forgotten about the social distancing norms. I was almost pushed ahead by a person standing behind me in the queue and it made me quite uncomfortable and slightly furious. Some people were wearing masks, but it didn’t cover their noses – I had my eyes rolling at them with despair. But the bright side was that the airline and airport staffers were very helpful and patient. They were assisting all the people who were in need.
Nevertheless, that almost nightmarish security check over, we finally breathed easy and proceeded to our gate. A few minutes before we were supposed to board, we were given a face shield, sachets of sanitizer and a mask. Needless to say, we were supposed to wear the face shield for the entire duration of the flight. Thank god it was just a one-hour flight. It was necessary, but unwieldy and uncomfortable. There was no question of not wearing it. So, looking like a faux astronaut/dancers from a harem with the typical headgear, I boarded the flight. In the flight, the horror continued with passengers merrily keeping their bags in overhead bins when it was explicitly told that it is not advisable. All the same, an hour and a glass of water later, we got off at Hyderabad – face shielded and cold due to the AC in the cabin. I must mention here that cabin crew too was cooperative and prompt and all of them had donned Protective Gowns, masks and face shields.
We were told to dispose off the face shield only in the hazmat bags at the terminal and so we did. We saw number of face shields strewn on the floor. I shrugged and thought of picking up those and throwing them in the right place. But then I wasn’t sure if that would be a good idea, so I let the staff know. We collected our luggage and soon we were on our way out of the terminal. That’s where I breathed easy and took off my face shield. It was not bad after all. But looking at the crowd and the callousness, I realized once again how crucial it is for all of us to do our bit. Whether it is washing and sanitizing our hands, wearing masks in public places, not spitting and littering, and overall being aware and conscious for your health and for those around you. I guess that’s the only way we can control and get out of this bizarre situation we have gotten ourselves into.