Why Are Indian Parents Obsessed With Reaching the Airport Hours in Advance?


Why Are Indian Parents Obsessed With Reaching the Airport Hours in Advance?

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander


ndian parents have two dreams. First, that their child must become an engineer, and second, that they must reach the airport two hours before the boarding time of the flight. The infamous laxity of “Indian Standard Time” notwithstanding, when it comes to boarding long distance trains and flights, desi parents operate with the accuracy of an atomic clock. Like an adarsh balak who thinks not speaking up to his parents is the ultimate form of giving respect, I – an engineer – often find myself reaching the airport two hours early before the scheduled flight. No matter how often I go through the motions, I find it impossible to get comfortable in the strange parallel universe that is the domestic airport.

When you are at the airport, there is not much to do other than charge your phone, judge other people and spend 150 on a samosa. Last Monday was one such day of despair and, as always, I had nothing to do. However, this time I had eaten a samosa outside the airport, which meant I wouldn’t have to subject myself to the highway robbery known as airport retail. So I walked from a Gucci store to a Chanel store to that big store with just “W” on its signboard, asking the prices of everything while fully aware that even an empty bag of oxygen in these stores will cost me around 999 excluding GST. After a while, the guy working at the Chanel store became convinced that I was just another cheap bastard trying to pass time, and politely declined to let me sample my 20th perfume bottle. I’m great at picking up hints, so I took it as my cue to leave.