Bright pink and yellow luggage tags. Check. Passport. Check. Flight ticket for Air India One. Check.
I am going through the list of must-have items I need as I stand, bleary-eyed, at the AFS, Palam in Delhi. I am headed to Dhaka, Bangladesh, as part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media delegation for his much-anticipated bilateral visit to the neighbouring nation.
Unlike most of the 30-odd journalists who will fly with me on AI 001, this is my first trip as part of the PM’s entourage. I am endlessly excited and supremely nervous; also a little sleepy.
It is 6 am — our official reporting time — as all security formalities have to be completed by 7 am.
The formalities barely take any time. But I do have to flash my tickets and passport to several serious looking officials, over and over again, before I can make my way in.
After having some very questionable tea at the base, I make a beeline for the flight. It is difficult to believe that we are on an Air India flight; the stewards and stewardesses on board are actually good looking and polite! In fact, most of them smile more than models in a Colgate advertisement.
From the moment I sink into my luxurious seat, I feel like a member of the bridegroom’s family at an Indian wedding. I am offered beverages, juices, pastries, sandwiches, rolls, hot/cold towels and what not. I lose count of the number of times I say, ‘no thank you’.