It’s your Birthday, go IGI!
Ok, first off, it’s not really IGI (Indira Gandhi International Airport)’s birthday. The Go ___, It’s Your Birthday, Go ____ is a line I ripped off from an old Taco Bell Ad. (or ‘Commercial’ as they say in the New World)

Anyway, that is neither here, there nor anywhere. Somebody really observant will have noticed that the post above this one (TTG In The Big Apple) was posted before this one)… well that’s true, but i wanted this post to come first, because I feel things should be in chronological order of my getting in to America…)

Ok so not having been out of the country for 3 years, I was very pleasantly surprised to find the departure area of IGI airport looking different!

Allow me to explain. For those who don’t already know, pre-1991, India was a hardcore Socialist country. Socialist thinking runs as follows:

“Planes need a place to land. So let’s build some place for them to land on/in”.

This is the core philosophy behind all airports (except the newly upgraded Cochin Airport) in India. this is what gave birth to the twin monstrosities in Delhi – The Palam Airport (Domestic) and the IGI. Bombay’s airport is bigger, and only a little better….

This of course can be contrasted with the capitalist philosphy of airport building (which can be observed in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and most of the West).

“We’re a small teency-weency place, but if we act as a midpoint for the world, make our airport look like a shopping mall and handout a free mercedes everyday, we can make tubloads of money, and boost our tourism!”

So When a visitor landed at IGI airport (pre-2005) the visitor would be greeted by shady looking policemen, the strong smell of Phenyl, intermittently flashing tubelights (or ‘flourescent lamps’) and a blood-thirsty escalator that would remain non-functional between periods of swallowing poor NRI children as they enter India.

And the departure area…well let’s just say that if you make it past immigration, you’re just happy to get out.

2005 (and probably onwards)
When you land you get greeted with bright lights, nice uniformed and professional security staff from the Central Industrial Security Force (do not ask me what was the purpose behind this formation of armed men…I have no clue, and fear to delve…),
a working escalator and lift.
There are nice plasma display screens everywhere displaying flight info
Outside the airport is still an AWFUL MESS of panic and traffic. The departure lounge however has finally had a makeover:
It is now home to 3 duty free shops, a ‘Subway’ (the sandwich place), and a Reliance Webworld Cyber Cafe (Where they fleeced me for 100 rupees for a half-hour’s worth of surfing time -( It has a nicer, cleaner look too.

So from the epitome of Socialism, the airport has started looking like a small corner of a third-rate mall. In another 2/3 years, based on the Government’s plans, it will start looking like a world-class airport.

So Go IGI, it’s your birthday, Go IGI!

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