At the airport

, Diary

‘India’s most loved stand-up comedian, writer, presenter and actor, Zakir Khan talks about his favourite airports’

Cities have an identity of its own. At every place I have lived, I have experienced a different set of cultures and traditions, each unique and special to me in its own beautiful manner. This is why wherever I go, I try and encapsulate what that city has to offer. Indore, my city, where I was born has given me a lot. From a frequent change of houses, from one different locality to another, the flavour of Indore stayed with me as it is so consistent that it doesn’t change as per class or caste/ religion. Indore truly represents Vasud- haiva Kutumbakam, which means that ‘the world is one family’. The populaces of Indore has this unique quality of accepting others as their own. Indore isn’t interfering but still caring, which is something I have inculcated in my behaviour too. However, Delhi remains to be favourite as I have spent so many years there struggling.

As per the saying that goes for lord Krishna, Indore is my Mathura or Devaki and Delhi is my Dwarka or Yasodha. I was born in Indore but I have learnt a great deal about life in Delhi. Indore prepared me well to reach Delhi and then unearth what we call living. There is this amazing connect, even if I am just passing by or I am there for a brief moment, like there is a connecting flight and my layover is in Delhi, it still feels like home. The extreme thrilling nature that Delhi wraps under its blanket is something which I love about India’s most loved stand-up comedian, writer, presenter and actor, Zakir Khan talks about his favourite airports At the airport the city. There is no midway in Delhi. If it is winters, it is chilling cold, if it is summers, you can feel that scorching heat. Delhi offers you love in abundance.

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi

I am a crowd pleaser and I like a place where there are people. This is why I love Delhi and similarly New York. You encounter such beautiful mix of crowd. I am not much of a scenery person. I like to meet and watch people. It’s like when you are at Times Square, you get to encounter so many different artists and people, sometimes even at three in the night. That’s what I love about a place, the way that city breathes.

With life taking turns, I have realised, I spend my time less in any city and much more time at an airport, travelling. Going to the airport has now become like going to the office on a Monday. You are always walking at the airport and in my case, running. I am always late, so by any chance if someone turns up to get a selfie, I make them run with me. This is how I tackle when someone approaches me at the airport.

If at all I get lucky enough to have some extra time in my hand, I prefer chilling at the lounge. I shop a lot at the airports, especially shades. I keep losing them and keep buying them at the airport I visit. Back at my home, I have so many empty boxes of shades.

Chandigarh International Airport

I imagined airports to be a place where an actor goes after the actress, just like they show you in Bollywood movies but I was so disappointed at my first experience. At an airport, the security checks are so high and so many, which of course is a good thing, that one can’t really chase someone. On my very first trip, which was to Goa, I was so nervous and it won’t be completely wrong to say that I had a bit of inferiority complex. More scared as I was secretly hoping that nobody gets to know that it is my first time flying. Nevertheless, the flight took off and since then, there is no looking back. Today, if I have to choose between rail, road or air travel, my preference will always be air. Why will I choose anything but air travelling? I have worked so hard to earn this money so that I can afford the luxury that flying is, quick, smooth and comfortable.

I am also an avid sleeper. Once I place myself comfortable at my flight seat, I am sleeping. All my family members, friends and even my manager hate me for the kind of relaxation I find the mo- ment I am inside the flight. There is a really funny incident which happened when I was flying to Dubai. I remember, the flight had a half an hour run and like I normally do, I just dozed off as soon as I boarded. I woke up in some time and I thought the flight just landed but I was then again deliberating that no I don’t think I slept for that long. Pondering that has the flight reached Delhi, I kept asking myself was it a connecting flight or not. It was only after good brood- ing, I realised that we were still haven’t taken off.

Also, when travelling, I make sure I am wearing the most comfortable attire which mainly consists of slipper, t-shirt and a lower. Very casual. Once while visiting my ancestral village in Rajasthan to meet a few relatives, I got ready for the airport and my uncle went all frenzy. He, in a heavy tone, asked, “Where are you going to change your clothes?” He was disappointed with my decision of being that casual for an airport experi- ence. The thing is I almost live at airports and not in Mumbai really. One needs to dress comfortably when at home and the airport is my home.

Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar International Airport, Indore

Even though I mostly travel via Mumbai and Delhi Airport, I really like airports of Varanasi, Indore and Chandigarh. The airports there are small yet sufficient. You don’t have to keep walking and the transition is amazingly smooth. Indore Airport is extremely well managed. Same is with Varanasi. Entry and exit are so smooth just like Changi Airport in Singapore, Dubai and Los Angeles.

(As told to Sonya)

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