You better pop those pills thru the airport scanner
It was well past midnight. There was nobody at the security queue in Kolkata airport. I lazily walked up to the conveyor belt and started chatting up the CISF lady who was manning (womanning???) the scanner. I think we started talking about the tea she was drinking and then talked about how long she has been working at the airport and all that idle chit chat as I slowly fished out my laptop, iPad etc out from my backpack and started putting my wallet, phone, watch into the backpack.
Just then a gentleman – somewhat younger than me – came briskly to the spot and politely asked the lady “Tablet nikalna hai kya?” (Do I have to take out the tablet?”)
The lady muttered something. He re-asked the question. She continued to be confused and muttered something. Which was surprising for two reasons – first she was talking to me in Hindi all this time and the gentleman’s question was clear. So, her answer should have been a prompt “Yes”. The second reason is that the gentleman could easily see that I had taken my iPad out. So, his first guess should have been to do the same.
The gentleman tried explaining in hindi that many airports allow tablets to stay inside his backpack. This was his first time in this airport. So, he was checking.
Finally, the lady asked “Dher saare hai kya?” (Do you have a lot of them?)
Suddenly, a light bulb went on in my head.
I told her “Woh poochh rahe hai ki iPad nikalna hai kya” (He is asking if he has to take his iPad out). And then without waiting for her answer, I turned around to me and said “In Kolkata, you have to. Why don’t you go ahead of me? I need to rearrange something”. I let him go ahead as I continued to get my ziploc bag out and all that.
After he was gone, the lady asked me – remember, by now I had earned her confidence – “Isko ‘tab’ boltey hai kya?”. She wanted to know if it is called a “tab”. Mind you not a tablet. A tab.
I should have clarified to all my blog readers. In this part of the world, a “tablet” usually refers to a pill. (which is why she was confused by his question and wanted to know if he was carrying a lot of them).
Back to her and me, I could have easily clarified that iPads are also called Tablets. Well, you know what I mean. Instead, I figured this has been a hectic trip – lot of running around and meeting people. Now, I deserve some practical fun. So, I told her “Aarey chhoriye na madam. Yeh sab log bahar se aatey hai. Kuch bhi bolta hai”. Basically I told her not to worry at all. These big shots come from outside and call stuff whatever they want.
And smartly walked away to be frisked… 🙂