Because I don’t trust Air India at all, I insisted on checking in three hours early for my flight. What I didn’t realise is that AI practically has a terminal to itself and not many other flights take off at that time. So, I did security and checked in within ten minutes and then immigration took another two. That means that it was about 15 minutes within which I was esconsed in the confines of AI’s sparse transit lounge.

Poor misguided me actually thought I might be able to buy a book or a magazine at the airport to tide me through the monotony that is in-flight entertainment (in this case, a blurry Hindi film projected on a pull-down screen). No such luck. But instead I had the company of strangers.

Random guy comes up – as can only happen in an Indian airport lounge – and goes: “Is this the Delhi:HK flight” and I go: “I’m not sure” which I really wasn’t but how non-Indian of me to say so. And then he sits down and starts talking to the guy opposite me, and then I join in. It turns out that the guy opposite was on an AI flight out of Delhi to Jeddah from where he had to catch a connecting flight to Yemen. However, the AI flight was delayed and so he missed the connecting flight. The AI staff was not to be seen and the Yemen airline too disowned him. He was stuck in the Saudi airport for around 12 hours, after which the Saudi regulation prohibits him from remaining there anymore.

Finally, he was flown back on an AI flight to Hyderabad, then to Mumbai and after sitting in Mumbai airport – in the same empty lounge that we were now in – for six hours. Despite possessing an Indian passport he was not permitted to leave the airport because his bags were checked in. I guess our arrival was the saving grace.

Twas quite funny because he started on a rant against AI, which the other guy quickly thwarted and then it turned out that that guy worked AI. The discussion then veered to the comparative safety of women in various cities – it’s amazing how men have no concept of safety, they think that if you can drive around in a car up to 8 pm it should be fine, when they don’t realise that we don’t want to just drive and we want more than 8 pm – and then to terrorism and brainwashing of Muslim youth (AI guy’s spiel). Again, it amazes me how Indian people will talk about anything, especially anything controversial, with no thought to the fact that the other person might actually have been Muslim and might have got offended.

Anyway, we got on the flight and AI guy decided to switch seats and sit with me. This is when I start wondering if he’s just nice or trying to get lucky. I am batting him firmly onto the other side with firm references to ‘my husband’. He actually offers to get me into business class and I turn him down (When I tell V this, he tells me I’m a fool and I should have accepted. My husband, the slut). But the thing is I have decided I have not intention of keeping in touch with this guy even if he comes to Hong Kong – and I know I would feel obliged to if he got me into business class. So, I did the right thing but when he asked for my phone number, I gave him the wrong number. Sad I know, but after chatting with someone for three hours, I just couldn’t bear to say ‘no you don’t interest me enough’.

Service on Air India is ok. Older aunties as flight attendants does not necessarily mean bad service. In fact, sometime the better looking the stewardess, the more snobbish they will be.

Got to HK determined to be positive. Then got caught at customs, joined the line of other brown people waiting to be screened, and was reminded once again that I am a foreigner and always will be. Gah!