Monday, January 21, 2008

Cheap Entertainment

It did involve a big screen and lots of unknown people, yet it had nothing to do with cable or internet. It was the monitor at SF international airport that allows you a viewing of the arriving passengers right before they actually get out into the arrivals lobby. The intention of that might be for you to get ready to receive, whoever you are there to receive, with a broad grin or something of that sort, but for us Pauls it was better than comedy night on NBC.

The best part is that most passengers do not know that they are being watched by herds of unknown people. So, their actions and emotions are absolutely genuine, and for some, pretty embarrassing if they ever found out that they were being displayed on a huge screen. I wonder if their friends or family ever let them in on the amusement.

We were there on Saturday to receive my mother-in-law, who was returning from her vacation in India. As usual her luggage was amongst the last to arrive and hence we had a pretty long wait out there. With Evani keeping herself entertained in her stroller, we resorted to observing strangers around us, especially on the screen. It was a Cathay Pacific flight that had just arrived from Hong Kong. It was intriguing to watch all the passengers. We started weaving stories on their lives based on how they were dressed for such a long flight, the luggage they carried, their facial expressions. It was fun to watch the first timers arriving in SFO trying real hard to suppress their excitement before coming out of the gates. There were the occasional nose pickers as well oblivious to the fact that they were on camera. The stilettos and freshly applied makeup of a few after the 14 or 15 hour flight put me to shame and reminded me how shabby I looked after the early morning (which is 8 am, btw) 2 hour drive from Sacramento.

The one who most caught our attention however was a guy who was at the receiving end. An Indian guy sporting a formal jacket over jeans - seemingly not an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi), who clutched a laptop with his dear life waiting for someone to arrive. The reason he had a laptop was the object of curiosity for us. He must have had a very reasonable cause for it but the fun lay in the conclusions we came up with:
1. His newly-wed wife must be arriving to the U.S. for the first time and he carried the laptop to impress her
2. He was a geeky software engineer who felt insecure without his laptop
3. He was meeting a client for business and had to start working immediately upon their arrival at the airport - nah! (this was ruled out by Shomeek)
After much discussion on him we named him 'laptop da' ('da' being colloquial for 'dada' which means 'elder brother' in Bengali) and was eager to catch a glimpse of the person who he was there for. However, amidst all the other strangers who were entertaining us, we missed that most important moment and he was gone. It reminded me of the power cuts that were bound to happen in the middle of our most favorite shows back home and so the mystery remains forever.

You writers can be on strike for as long as you want - we don't need you or your characters to keep us entertained!


TravelVixen said...

Isn't that screen the best? They should have it at every airport arrivals area.

As for the Writers... arrivals lounge tv or not, there's only so much American Gladiator and Bruno vs. Carrie-Ann/Dance Wars I can take. And as for that sappy 2-hour Extreme Makeover Home Edition... dear God, I'm about to puke.

ArSENik said...

Lol...I think the Software Engg in Laptop Da wanted to do utrofy the arati of his new wife with his laptop before she set foot on the holy Valley.

Mala said...

@MC: OMG, I haven't even dared watch American Gladiators. Out of frustration I thought I would watch American Idol - but that got on my nerves to.

@Arsenik: 'utrofy the arati' classic! :)