11th July 2016
At Jai Prakash Narayan airport in Patna, they let you get off the aircraft and walk directly to the airport. Something that even its new neighbour, Birsa Munda airport in Ranchi wouldn’t allow you to do. If there’s ever an untapped indicator for comparative sub regional development, this is it. Even so, I am yet to land in Patna from Delhi, without some sort of VIP on the flight. I am yet to walk out without a large crowd lined up with garlands, bouquets and dhols. I am yet to view the parking lot without haughty Tata Sumos, Xylos and Boleros crowding it with their bullying lal baatis on top.
There’s been a mess up and I have to wait for my vehicle pick up. As I walk through the parking lot looking out for the registration number that was messaged to me, I hear from the general direction of thte arrival gate, the familiar sounds of “Sudarshan Ram ki” followed by a respectable chorus of “Jai.”
Patna airport shuts down quick. By 8:30, the cars in the parking lot have reduced to about a dozen. The attendant at the Amul store outside the airport is doing his stock taking at the end of the day. I decide to go back into the airport to wait and am easily let in by the CISF guards after showing my boarding pass. I head towards the two prepaid taxi stalls but there’s no attendant in sight. I get a call and by the time I’m done, the attendants are shuttering down and locking up. I sit down in the waiting area near the baggage belts but get told to move by the CISF guard on duty as she pulls out her off duty bag as well. I move towards the waiting area outside. The sole khaaney peenaey ki dukaan, a Café Coffee Day is also shutting down and the staff is packing up and leaving. At the water cooler a small crowd of CISF guards gathers, as they fill their water bottles and chit chat before leaving. The women’s pistol bolsters hang just as effortlessly on their hips as their slim gold watches with diamond shaped faces hang from their wrists. By 9 pm, the exit door to the airport has been shut. By 9:15, the lights begin to dim. I step out at 9:20 to an empty car park save for my pick up vehicle standing sulkily, communicating its displeasure at no doubt having heard an earful for the mess up in timing.