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26 July 2009

SIGHTED SITE : IGIA Terminal 1, New Delhi

TO PARAPHRASE the old Broadway song: "Hello, Delhi! It's so nice to have your airport where it belongs: a league of its own!"

I love this newly renovated airport. Officially the Terminal 1 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, its modernization took a painfully long time, but the long wait is worth it. (It reopened in February this year after two years of renovation work.) I remember having to endure musty odors of the human and damp-ceiling type (but mostly human), long queues with irate and irritating passengers, and no place to sit AND stand at the pre-departure area. The old airport often reminded me of domestic terminals in smaller towns in southern Philippines. The reality of it being the welcome mat to India's capital always puzzled me.

Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Mumbai have also unveiled their revamped domestic terminals, but Delhi Airport tops them all. Here's why:

    1. There is nothing fancy or pretentious about the architectural design. It looks modern yet feels ethnic (watch the huge square pillars at the pre-departure area). It's elegant. It's massive. With such a high ceiling, it tends to be loud, which all modern airports are. It's busy. All these adjectives point to one thing: it's pretty much like the Indian population.

    2. The pre-departure area has lots of seating. I call them the "gossip seats". Grouped in diamond shapes, they are perfect for Indians and non-Indians traveling together to face each other and engage in catching up, rumor mongering, character bashing, and, if you're from Gujarat, sharing home-made food.

    3. Convenience outlets are everywhere. Very convenient for laptop users and even for those who take the "Sweetheart my phone battery's dying so I gotta go see you next week buh-bye" route.

    4. Flight information screens in every corner means you don't have to pester the exceedingly beautiful North Indian female attendants at the information kiosk and make them frown with useless questions like "Why is my flight not delayed?".

    5. There are food kiosks at the northern, southern, eastern, and western parts of the pre-departure area. Good news for those who take budget airlines.

    6. No one is allowed to go down to the gates unless the public announcer says so.

    7. And the jewel in the crown: QUEUE MARKERS! For someone who's lost so much patience and raised so much blood pressure with queue-jumpers in India, Delhi Airport's queue markers are sweet, embraceable vanguards of discipline and order. We've indeed reached the new century in India with Delhi Airport's queue markers.

I now board my plane in bliss.

Queue markers at Delhi Airport

Queue markers at Delhi Airport

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