The story of an unusual day in my life to miss the flight, meet a pretty girl, be part of a social movement and witness Coldplay as well as Rahman perform live.
Part 1 – Lazy me
The lethargic and lazy person that I’m,a level that can be paralleled only to the logic behind Kejriwal’s accusations or the talent with which most of us become judges on social media for or against any subject of discussion. Staying 250 kms away, I book a flight to catch from the national capital (read as fog capital) at 10.45 am, the next day. I set the alarm at 2:00 am, with a bus ticket yet to be booked. Just when the alarm rings, the zombie portion of my brain decides to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, leaving behind all the excitement to attend the most awaited concert.
I wake up at 4:34am, out of the blue, cursing myself to an extent that could tele-port me to the airport directly. With curses on my tongue, heart on my mouth and calculations inside my head, I book a cab to the bus depot and with no options left, I board the state transport bus which departs at 5am. For once, I am being selfish and thankful to the bus driver for driving so rash. So rash, I want to recommend his name to Force India, if not for the absence of Vijay Mallya from the country. He misses a collision with a truck by a fraction of a second, when all passengers wake up 5 inches away from our respective seats, due to the sudden brake. The calculations that failed me during my college exams, fail me once again.
I reach the Delhi by-pass road at 9:15 am. I quickly book an auto-rickshaw to the airport that costs me more than the bus ticket from Chandigarh to Delhi. I don’t know who or what I need to thank for maintaining the composure in such a situation. I hit the elevator button at 9:57 am to reach the departure site. I press the re-open button inside the elevator to let a couple of other passengers on the run to join me. At this moment, I’m pretty sure ‘being too nice’ is about to whoop my ass. I re-affirm myself that ‘Karma’ is something we all cook up to make ourselves feel better. I reach the check-in counter at 10:01am sharp, only to realize it has just closed and I get the confirmation of what all I’m about to miss.
Part 2- Lady luck
I’m not alone, I have four others for company, fighting to get checked in. As we start throwing tantrums, I see a familiar face. I recall my memories of this person being Saif Ali Khan’s brother on advertisements to sell air(Lays) more than his amazing fielding skills. There he stands, Mohammad Kaif, trying to use his contacts, while the rest of us are trying to ride on our luck. All of a sudden, I see a well-dressed pretty woman walk up to me and ask about the same flight. A second is all it takes to forget about Coldplay and my ticket. All my thoughts about missing the flight or the concert take a long pause. Befriending her becomes my instant life goal.
If there is one thing, Indians need to be schooled about that will be to stop giving VIP treatment. Everybody has a busy schedule and everybody breathes the same air. As expected, the check-in counter is now open only to let in you-know-who but the surprise here is that two more passengers who are fighting with me, get through as well. Now I’m left with a huge dilemma, inside my head, whether to be grateful or angry. With Modi’s apparent plan to visit the concert venue and security issues, news has been going viral that gates for the concert at Mumbai will be closing by 4pm. And the next flight, the ladies on the other side of the battle offer us, is at 2:00 pm which means this concert is not happening in my life.
Now the battle is mine to fight as I’m left stranded with this pretty lady. Of all the conversations that I’ve failed to build with women in my life, this looks like a blessing. She is eager too and we are quick enough to build a rapport which majorly focuses on our battle against the flight attendants. I inquire about other flights and somehow force the attendants to book the 1:00 pm flight of a different service. Yet, luck doesn’t seem to work for me as this lady, in the mean time,checks in for the 2:00 pm flight. It is now time to bid good-bye to this lady and I gather all the courage to ask her for her number and she gives it to me with no hesitation. She leaves me with a smile as well as a ‘See you soon’ quote. My heart melts. The curves on my lips touch my ears.
Part 3 – Live Music
Priorities. They suck for a male heart. It is now of little concern that I might miss the concert but I’m pretty high on the fact that I’m now closer to achieve my latest life goal. I board the flight at 1:00 pm and little do I know air traffic is about to give me the worst adrenaline pump. All my childhood dreams of going in circles with my arms wide open come true as that is exactly what the pilot is doing right now but at 20,000 ft above. I finally land at 3:30 pm and I rush to the rickshaw stand to catch one. Mumbai, the city of traffic, gives me little space only to breathe as the traffic becomes stagnant. I hop out and start running a mini-marathon.
I reach the venue at 4:05pm to realize Modi’s plan gets canceled and there is no restriction on the entry timings. Rather than being thankful, I decide to regret about not having taken the 2:00 pm flight – what a chance. 80,000 people. 80 fucking thousand people are at the venue. I get super excited about the cause when real life heroes come on stage to talk about their pledges for a better country. Actors introduce the activists on stage. When you see Ratan Tata, Sachin Tendulkar, chief minister Fadnavis and few other eminent personalities take pledges, you get goosebumps. As a part-time social activist, this concert to me now is much more than just coldplay. It is also about fighting for empowerment and fighting against poverty.
Watching Farhan Akhtar entertain and AR Rahman create magic lights the mood up which eventually gets turned off by Sonam Kapoor’s apparently drunk speech and Frieda Pinto’s failed approach. The craze for celebrities, we stupid Indians, I tell you. Jay-Z and The Vamps rock the stage with their performance as Modi steals the thunder once again with his epic one-liners and Bob Dylan’s lyrics. Two hot women from Australia get on stage to swing their hands and groove a little in the name of DJ artists as the crowd keeps boo-ing for the delay. Finally, Chris Martins and co. enter the stage and 80,000 hearts skip a beat together. Imagine, listening to Yellow, Fix you, Hymn for the weekend and other beautiful songs live, in India. I repeat, in India, for a social cause.
AR Rahman’s final touch on ‘Vande Mataram’ along with Chris Martins is all that you need to feel like you’re out of this world. I see the lights go off and folks cheering the usual ‘one more’. Just as I can’t stand on my legs anymore, Coldplay bounces back with two more songs. Such energy. Such passion. Like never before. A special night, indeed. But all of that doesn’t overshadow the fact that Indians can never stop littering. The organizers arranged for free water but not enough dustbins and it’s a shame that the entire crowd, including I, leave the place so dirty filled with empty bottles and left over food, the irony after emphasis by Modi and few others on Swacch Bharat. The auto-rickshaw drivers and the city traffic at 11:00 try to make you regret a little bit more on your visit to Mumbai. As my mind finds all of the reason not to visit Mumbai again, my heart finds that one reason why I will visit soon. The concert atmosphere? The pretty lady?
All of that and back home in under 36 hours.