One of the perks of a corporate job with a decent expense account is to travel the world in Executive Class, sometimes in close proximity to the high-and-mighty! Listing some of my good and strange encounters with the swish-set! Lets see how many names you can guess! 😉
The first incident happened a while back. I was to fly out after a long day of interviews back to Mumbai. The airport which was previously in town, had recently shifted to a new setup some distance away, which meant we had to wind up our work by 4pm and rush to the airport. Accompanied by my colleague, I reached the airport around 6, well in time for our 730pm connection only to be told of a delay of around an hour. We cleared security and decided to hang out in the Executive Class lounge. It was here that we first saw Babaji sitting in a corner nursing his drink. Ordering drinks for ourselves we settled in.
The airline we were flying on has a reputation. Normally reliable, on one day every year, almost without fail, its entire operations go haywire with delays all across the board. That day was one of those days. Around an hour later, an airline rep came into the lounge with bad news including a further hours delay to our own flight. Babaji sitting in the corner quietly till then stood up to make a point only to stumble and fall! A short shouting match followed which was when we realised Babaji was scheduled to be on our flight! This was also the point where my colleague put a bet that there was no way the airline would let Babaji fly in that state. Celeb hua to kya?
15 minutes later, we decide to head out for the gate area after a short pitstop in the smoking room. The gate area was pretty crowded because of all the delayed flights. A little after we got there, we saw a pair of airline reps escort Babaji to the gate area. There was still some time for the flight, but the lounge staff clearly wanted to wash their hands off this celebrity – ‘cos Humaare Babaji was high as a kite! After that it got quite tragic at times! Every time a flight was announced and people lined up at the gate, Babaji stood up and got in line only to be sent back! People were tittering but it was really sad! We had grown up watching his movies, we should have helped! On the Nth such trip, Babaji did not return to his seat. Instead he walked over to one of the flower pots kept at the gate area, unzipped and proceeded to relieve himself! Right there! In front of thousands of people waiting to board their flight!
An audible gasp went through the terminal as the scene unfolded. What was amazing was none of the airline staff nor the security personnel felt the need to intervene! Babaji calmly finished his business and wiping his hands absurdly over his shirt stumbled back to his seat. My colleague was sure he would win his bet and that Babaji wouldnt fly! When Babaji was beeped through the gate, the feeling/hope was the pilot would offload him! As it turns out, Babaji did fly that day! The airline did nothing to stop the sloshed celebrity from flying! And it was the poor Flight Attendants who had the bear the brunt of boorish behavior inflight! I asked the FA later whether she would complain about what she just faced, her answer was “Thank you!”. Felt sorry for her!