Monday, May 14, 2007

Priyanka to Punjab

While I was quick to exalt the glories of the Little B's new bride, Aishwariya Rai, I overlooked another Indian Miss World in Priyanka Chopra, the stunning Punjabi beauty. Last week I watched the Bollywood stunner, 'Don,' also reputed as the Matrix-reloaded-in-India Shah Rukh Kahn response to Ethan Hunt. While thrown for some laughs by Shah Rukh's one liners, I was also enraptured by the skillful martial arts of Priyanka Chopra. Upon reading that she's a former Punjabi Miss World, I decided a trip to Amritsar, Punjab was in order... well, only half kidding. I already had my tickets to Punjab, but Priyanka was added impetus.

On Friday, after a hilarious night out at a testosterone-heavy Hyderabadi joint, we boarded our 03:45 SpiceJet flight for Delhi. Due to allegedly bad weather, the flight was inevitably late, closing the ever narrow margin of time we had before we were to board our Air India flight for Amritsar. Once our two-hour window had shrunk to 25 minutes, and after meek apologies and mumblings by our half-conscious stewardess, we dashed from the plane with an impossible task. Delhi Airport, unlike any airport in the world, is disconnected from its international counterpart. And not only are they disconnected, there is no shuttle (or an infrequent one at best) that forces one to take a 15-minute pre-pay taxi to get to the other side of the airfield. Fun, sure, but not when your flight is departing in 25 minutes. We shoved our way into a taxi, demanded speed, and then stuffed a hundred rupee note into the complaining fingers of our driver when he demanded $10 for his trouble. To his indignant huff, my only laconic response was, 'We don't have time for this,' before our dash inside.

Once we'd entered Delhi International through the staff entrance, as it was closer and we were nearly maniacal at this 7AM point, the Air India counter for Amritsar was closed. This was a half-relief, as the last two Air India flights about which I've read have involved failed landing gears, but we were still on a mission, so safety came a close second to Priyanka. Shuttling between the counter and the back office, I audaciously cut in line. To the hypocritical holler of those aunties standing nearby, whose conception of 'Line' was dubious at best, I tried to apologize for SpiceJet's typical negligence, and eventually got a point across. Utilizing the magical approach of one in-front, one behind-counter, we managed to convince an automaton employee that the customer is always right. A non-existent flight materialized, we passed through customes and into a departure hall filled with flights to unlikely destinations like Kabul, and 30 minutes later we were boarding a Dubai-bound flight with a stop-over in Amritsar.

We were finally Priyanka, and Punjab, bound. And what we found was not only miss-world hot, but other-worldly hot.

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