TURN OF THE TIDE
Outlook Traveller|November 2020
Going beyond the beaches, booze, and bikini, ROSHNI SUBRAMANIAN finds the Goa that remains elusive
ROSHNI SUBRAMANIAN

THE FAMILIAR STRAINS OF the Bee Gees flow into the low-lit cabin of Vistara’s A320, as a modest trickle of passengers shoves their bags in the overhead cabinets. No big crowds, no constant announcements, just stillness. If I’m being honest, the silence was quite confronting. Masks were the rule, not the exception. Who’d have thought being back in the skies would seem this unreal.

Till now, I had only heard of the ‘zombie airports’—the living dead of aviation, with the only sign of flight being the tumbleweeds bouncing in the air, down the deserted runways, and through the empty terminals. Never in my wildest imagination did I expect the mega-airports, including the likes of the one in the national capital, to join the fleet. On my first post-pandemic visit, the airport looked nothing less than a ghost town. The hand-sanitising stations installed every few metres, outnumbered the travellers. Taking a flight felt like going to war. From crew and passengers wearing PPE kits, flight attendants distributing face shields to thermal screening at almost every checkpoint, the increased surveillance meant a longer and a rather complicated airport and flight experience. But, hey this was the ‘new normal’.

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