Monday, December 19, 2005

Penned at:
Frankfurt am Main: Airport: Friday, December 3, 2005, 9.00 a.m. Frankfurt time-

Halts for transit airlines on airports are never a gentle or exciting matter, especially if the halt is 6 hours long. But this 6 hour halt at Frankfurt Airport is turning to be an unexpected pleasantly lazy state of affairs for me. Although my knowledge of German is light years old rusty, I managed to order ‘Frankfurter mit Kartoffelsalat’- Sausage with Potato Salad- and pay the bill, in German, barely making out even the simple things which the woman at the counter was saying at high speed. It was delicious. In front of me is a nicely lit, big lobby, with lots of lighting and miniature lit Christmas trees, in anticipation of the holiday season. I am at a table that leisurely overlooks the lobby. This ‘Kuffler und Bucher’ restaurant offers much needed respite from the pains inflicted by Economy Class. When I turn on my computer, the Airport seems to catch some wireless T-mobile signal, but does not seem to actually connect to the web : (
Quite interestingly, I can see Bluetooth give me a listing of 5 computers and 2 phones with wireless capability that are within 30 feet of me. I even got a random JPEG file sent from a phone!
Making a post is a welcome substitute for the lack of internet connectivity.

On the other hand, I am being enlightened by that part of ‘American Prometheus’ in which J. Robert Oppenheimer proposed a stunningly simple but effective plan for the international control of atomic energy. The plan seems alluring even for today’s nuclear realpolitik. Unfortunately, people then were more interested in an illusory nuclear monopoly, so that the plan unfortunately never could materialize. Now it’s too late, and even Oppenheimer did not have an answer for today’s nuclear terrorism, which would never have been conceived, had it not been for nuclear proliferation. When he was asked as early as 1946, what would be the best defence against nuclear terrorism, the physicist quipped, “A screwdriver…to inspect every crate and container that arrives in a port”.

I was subjected to the screwdriver principle when I passed through airport security in the afternoon. My meek backpack was paraded several times through the detectors and machines, before it was finally returned back to me with a still-suspicious face. Stray chemicals from the neighbouring lab, perhaps? This did not make me feel comfortable, given the fact that I was already late and reached the departure gate about 5 mins after boarding had begun. A Nigerian girl next to me on the plane (the proud youngest sibling of ten siblings, flying after ten years to surprise her parents- she also tells me that her mother has extremely high B.P. by the way …wonder how this fact jells with the surprise visit) provided at least some conversation to break the monotony. I do hope that after a combined flight + transit time of 23 hours, the upstanding gentlemen of Indian Customs at amchi Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji Airport don’t hassle me too much.

Right in front of me at my table, a German (single?) mother teaches her little daughter to colour a patterned circle with crayons. She (the daughter) is really cute.
Auf wiedersehen for now! Next stop- amche Pune!