We’ve had a great three days in Chennai that included a fabulous food tour through Rattan Bazaar and a day trip to the amazing temples and monuments of Kanchipuram and Mamallapuram. Last night we left Chennai and flew to Kochi.
There were signs all over Chennai airport announcing that it’s a ‘silent airport’ and that there are ‘no departure announcements’. Unsure as to how this would work, Don thought it best we stick close to our departure gate.
I’m glad we did. It was most entertaining.
“I wonder how you know when you’re allowed to board,” I said to Don just as a young woman leant across the counter at Gate 7 and started yelling at the waiting people.
“PASSENGERS FOR DEHLI YOUR FLIGHT IS NOW BOARDING AT GATE 14!” she bellowed. “PLEASE GO TO GATE 14!”
Nobody moved. She drew a breath and continued.
“ANY PASSENGERS FOR KOLKATA , PLEASE BOARD NOW AT GATE 7!! PASSENGERS FOR KOLKATA, BOARDING NOW, GATE 7!”
Five people made their way to the gate. The woman at Gate 6 stepped up.
“PASSENGERS FOR KOLKATA, GATE 7! NO SIR,” she yelled as a man approached with his boarding pass, “KOCHI NOT BOARDING YET!”
“KOLKATA BOARDING, GATE 7! PLEASE HAVE YOUR BOARDING PASS READY!”
“DELHI BOARDING GATE 14!”
Gate 7 Woman took over.
“PASSENGERS FOR DEHLI PLEASE MAKE YOUR WAY TO GATE 14!”
This went on for some time, the gatekeepers yelling at the crowd, swatting away passengers with incorrect boarding passes and studying five metres of paper that had spat itself out of an ancient dot matrix printer whilst they’d been yelling.
“LAST CALL FOR DELHI!” Gate 7 woman yelled.
People eventually started running – no, sprinting – to different gates, trailing small children, pillows and bags, because they had somehow missed that their plane was about to leave, even though two women had been bellowing boarding calls at them for over half an hour.
Gate 6 Woman eventually lost her shit, bundled up the paper and threw it the best anyone can throw five metres of crumpled paper at Gate 7 Woman, who disappeared down the flight corridor with it. Gate 6 Woman was now solo.
“PASSENGERS FOR KOCHI ROWS 21 TO 30 YOUR FLIGHT IS NOW READY FOR BOARDING AT GATE 6. KOLKATA BOARDING GATE 7. DELHI BOARDING GATE 14!”
Her palm flew into the air any time somebody thought they might board early. “NO SIR,” she yelled at a particularly persistent man, “ROWS 21 to 30 ONLY!” Gate 6 Woman is my new favourite person.
Next minute Gate 7 Woman was back, and OMG she now had a headset with a portable amplifier around her waist. Don had to hold me up, I was almost crying.
“PASSENGERS FOR DELHI, YOUR PLANE IS ABOUT TO DEPART. GATE 14!” she yelled into the microphone.
Then that’s it, one announcement and the headset was gone and never used again. This is obviously contraband in a silent airport.
In the midst of this chaos, a tall young man strolled through the crowd, also shouting.
“PASSENGERS FOR DELHI, BOARDING GATE 14!”
Gate 7 Woman glared at him – this was obviously not his patch – and he too goes the way of the headset microphone.
It took some time, but eventually we were all on board. It had been compelling viewing; Don and I were in row one and had thus got to witness the show from start to finish.
Without a shadow of a doubt I am now a huge fan of the silent airport.