The Chicago O’Hare Airport was crowded. But then it always remained crowded. Ashok ran along the airport corridor with his mom who was sprinting hard enough to suggest any possible participation in the next year's Olympics dash. For the past one hour she had been asking him just one question "Where is dad?"
Wish he could answer. His father had gone to meet his uncle in the nearby town. Mom didn’t join him because of family feud which occurred long before between the ladies of the household. Such a small world and still people hold grudges thought Ashok. But then he was not perfect either. He had fought with their neighbor’s kid Anthony when he was 8 years old and they both had not talked since for almost 15 years. Small world eh?
With the announcement of a hailstorm and rough weather mom was worried and Ashok was not sure how he could answer her worries. He had tried calling them to their house and their cell phone, but both seemed disrupted. After a month of vacation and roaming around, it was time to bid adieu to U.S and Ashok didn’t want it to end on a soar note. Ashok tried to relax himself by looking around the airport. It had never failed to mesmerize him. It was a very huge airport and was one of the busiest airport in the world. One could see people of all races, colors and sizes in the airport.
He remembered the Globe skeleton and flags of various countries in terminal 3. What surprised him was the presence of a dinosaur replica in that that terminal. Why would one have a dinosaur in an airport, he wondered? He was thrilled to walk on the running walk and almost tripped at the end of it. He wanted to walk/run on it again, but curbed his enthusiasm. In the checking section he was strip checked and cleared. He felt funny when he saw a 5 year old kid raising his arms like a vitruvian man and being checked for bombs. Welcome to the land of national security son.
The first time when Ashok landed in Chicago he was hungry and wanted to eat something. He exchanged the 500 Rs he had and they repaid him with a measly amount of 11 dollars odd. For another 500 Rs he could have a Sarkaari Babu make him prepare a ration card stating Amitabh as his dad, Hemamalini as his mom and Vidhya Balan as his wife. Perhaps that was the only time when he hated the exchange rate. He was hungry and looking for something to eat. That damn pizza slice alone cost about 6 dollars which was almost 180 Rs. Bloody middle class conscience won’t let him have it initially. But the war between stomach and logic has always been won hands down by stomach. Now he drinks coffee daily twice in Dunkin Donuts, buys Stafford shirt worth 40$, watches movies in IMAX for 13$ and has a watch of 120$(original price concealed from his mom).
"Ashok, Do something" yelled his mom.
Ashok tried calling his uncle's mobile and it was still busy. The blizzard had added to her anxiety and fear. His mother was close to tears and it was for the first time Ashok had seen his mom in such a predicament. 10 minutes later he found his father with a bandage on his head and limping with his uncle near him. As soon as his mom saw him, she ran and hugged him and cried in front of thousands of people. His uncle told him that his father had slipped on stairs and was hurt mildly. Ashok heaved a sigh of relief and walked towards his parents with their boarding tickets.
It was then that he remembered something and stopped midway through. For the first time in 28 years of his life, he was seeing his parents embrace each other in front of his very eyes. He smiled and as an ad buff he tried to picture something like this
Chocolates and Sweets - 149$
Cab fare - 48$
Tickets to India - 1800$
Witnessing a kodak moment......priceless