Airport anthropology and new behavioural patterns

Ramakant Bijapurkar in this interesting piece in Mint observes ongoing changes in Indian airports. No more are Indian airports clones of western airports but are having their own regional identities:

There’s no place like large city airports to get a sharp yet nuanced sense of what India today is all about. In cities with two terminals, this is especially true of “low cost” terminals rather than the newer “global” ones, which are great to experience, but lack an Indian soul—just like those very upmarket shopping malls. Some would argue that this is exactly what these airports are, only with an airstrip or two attached.

On a bus ride to the aircraft at Ahmedabad airport was a group of four loud and excited Gujarati-speaking men with a 10-year-old boy in tow, clearly from small-town Gujarat. Remember the bygone days when people wore suits and ties to get on a plane? They wore traditional weave kurtas and shawls with narrow pants, embroidered mojris and ear studs with great confidence, not self-consciously trying to become invisible in a sea of Western attired men. The child had a fashionably chic haircut and dispelled any doubts about the demand for or supply of latest Bollywood fashions in small-town India.

On the tarmac, as we were waiting to board, a selfie and photo op rush began among several very diverse passenger groups. Hats off to IndiGo, an airline which seems to know when to indulge its customers and when to get tough with them. Except for a few amused smiles, nobody batted an eyelid or looked embarrassed over their “uncool” behaviour.

In fact, “be yourself” without any worry of “log kya sochenge” seems to be the new cool. I guess in a society where electronic self projection is the norm across socio-economic strata, what people will think is a strange question.


The market economy is indeed here in all its avatars.




One Response to “Airport anthropology and new behavioural patterns”


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