I got to travel to Mumbai from Chennai and back home due to a family emergency recently. Having not gone beyond my dance class (for occasional practise sessions) and the nearby grocery store for the past 8 months, it certainly was a bit startling to go for a sudden trip with no preparation. We had packed only necessary clothes and my books for school (which ironically can be attended from any corner of the world now; you just need the Internet). We thought there would be stringent safety measures and the like for a flight at this Corona-age.
But surprisingly, it wasn’t as strict as we had thought. Maybe it was because the cases were reducing. But anyway, the Chennai Airport wasn’t very crowded, but the Mumbai Airport was really packed. Many eateries and shops were closed down in the Chennai Airport and it wasn’t that filled, for good. But we got a shock when we arrived at the Mumbai Airport: it seemed to be more crowded than it usually would be! We tried our best to stay as far as possible from everyone except ourselves. The long crowded queue for the security check was really alarming. We were constantly on the search for hand-sanitizer supply to sanitise our hands every now and then. Thankfully there were a fair few dispensers here and there filled with sanitizing liquid and we helped ourselves.
The restrooms were thankfully empty and many eateries and stalls were also devoid of customers and the servers were standing lonely. We realised that only the airport entrance and the security checking area were thronging with people. The rest of the vast Mumbai Airport was nearly empty.
I took a good look at all the art exhibited at the airport and captured a fair few photos of them. Then it was time to board our plane. We saw the flight attendants handing out packages to all the passengers before they went aboard and wondered what was in there. When we got ours, I took out a disposable mask, 6-8 sachets of hand sanitisers and a plastic face-shield. A few people got a PPE gown too (only for those sitting in the middle seat got that). But I couldn’t understand the purpose of just one person in a row getting the PPE kit. Anyways, the less disposable items, the better.
It really hurt me to see all those one-time use plastics. All of them were going to end up in water-bodies or unused land and lie there for millions of years. Coronavirus may have made the atmosphere a bit fresher and the roads look neater, but is going to pollute the land and water even more if it doesn’t go away. Only now have all the people started coming out of lock down and going back to normal lives and I see so much garbage on the roads and now there’s new road waste: masks and sanitiser bottles. People never change their ways of living; no wonder Mother Nature gets really angry now occasionally and we call it ‘Climate Change’.
Back to the flight. The flight attendants insisted everyone wear their masks and face shields, no matter what. One old lady in front of us told the attendant she wouldn’t wear a mask because she had some breathing problems if she did, but the attendant finally convinced her to wear it compulsorily after 5 mins of squabbling. People interacted with none except their families or friends with whom they had come with. If there was anyone we knew on the plane, there was no chance of identifying them with those masks and shields on. So I’m guessing celebrities would find this comfortable.
It was a good flight, but only if you didn’t consider the headaches because of the face-shield and the pain in the back of the ear due to wearing the mask. We landed safely and while staying away from other people’s bags and themselves, we collected our baggage and hurried home to take a bath and a nice long steam.