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Celebrity Column | Airport anxiety, writes Shweta Bachchan Nanda

Celebrity Column | Airport anxiety, writes Shweta Bachchan Nanda – Airports! The neon floodlit, recycled air filled, melodramatic hell of them. The purposeful mass migration of anxiety-ridden humans as they frantically navigate through beeping buggies and mechanised walkways to make it to their gate in time is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.


Shweta Bachchan Nanda

Airports! The neon floodlit, recycled air filled, melodramatic hell of them. The purposeful mass migration of anxiety-ridden humans as they frantically navigate through beeping buggies and mechanised walkways to make it to their gate in time is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.

Reason enough for people with a heightened sense of personal space to avoid spending more than absolutely necessary time in them.

We have come to the end of a long, long summer break and the teens are to make their way back to their respective schools; I am at hand to chaperone them. We are enervating early for our flight, thanks to the overzealousness of my son, who is a bit of a paranoid flyer. Obsessively checking flight timings and herding us to gates that are yet to be opened. We line up in a queue that snakes through the length of the airport, and inching our way forward, taking half steps like someone learning to walk on a previously fractured leg, make our way through immigration. My son arches his eyebrows at us as if to say, “Aren’t you glad I made you get here early?” We ignore him and form a congo line for the obligatory frisking — my least favourite part of the airport experience. A lady officer, who would rather be anywhere but here, waves a wand, halfheartedly, over my body like she is tracing lines around it and after giving me a once over, as if to ensure my face doesn’t resemble someone in an internal no fly list, I am let out. We head for the lounge, my son physically turning me away from the Duty Free shops that keep distracting me. At the lounge, my daughter forages the buffet for sustenance (she needs to be fed every two hours) and my son is watching something on his laptop. He has shaved, I notice, and once again resembles the wide-eyed little boy, who grabbed my fingers tight as I navigated him, years ago, through airports.

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I don’t get the romance of airports. Families crying while waving off a member destined for far -off shores to make a livelihood. The euphoric reuniting of couples as they run into each others arms at arrivals, while I am forced to watch on a reluctant interloper. I turn to the teens, they’re sharing a joke (probably at my expense). My heart shrinks and drops into my stomach, in that altogether familiar feeling of having to let them go again. My house deprived of the mundane daily beats that make up their lives — the hiccupping of a basketball being dribbled on the roof, the ripples of the piano keys in practice of a tune. I am about to reach out and squeeze them when our flight is announced. We gather ourselves picking up both physical and emotional baggage that we will stow away, for now at least.

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Celebrity Column | Airport anxiety, writes Shweta Bachchan Nanda

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