The fabulous Hong Kong has come and gone in a flash. Now, on an Air India flight, I’m having a few qualms. Not least because the toilet doors don’t lock and three hours into the five-hour flight, there has appeared to be no food apart from unsalted peanuts.
The movie, broadcast on a pull-down communal screen, is a film of a 40 year old hulk with shocking bags under his eyes, who plays the bad boy to the village’s beautiful 18-year-old good girl. Their love thwarted by corrupt police, it ends him saving her one last time (he does it quite a lot) from being ravaged by the bad local mafia boss who has the coppers in pay, and he rips off his shirt to reveal not only an astonishing oiled body that doesn’t burn even when flames lick his skin, but also that he’s an undercover cop, then takes on 10 at once, killing them all. There are quite a few dance scenes with some pretty raunchy dancing, and lots of almost-kisses. Pure Bollywood.
Ooh, but wait! It’s the drinks trolley. And now the food is being wheeled down the aisle, great steaming piles of it with buckets of yoghurt, and strong wafts of onion pervade the cabin. After three days running – literally running – through the streets of Hong Kong in the name of work, I need to eat. Weird, considering I ate myself a doppelganger on the sea cruise. Oh god it smells good. My first Indian meal in India. Well, possibly Indian airspace. The moral of this story is: India is a waiting game.
Although I’ve never been to India before, its food smells more familiar than last night’s meal in a Hong Kong hole-in-the-wall diner that recently earned a Michelin star. Yes, a Michelin star for the smoked chicken, the deep fried logs of 1000-year-old egg and pickled ginger, and the pomelo peel, cooked to a flaccid, taro-like consistency and dressed with a glutinous brown sauce scattered with dried shrimp, to make what’s known as poor-man’s abalone.
Bollywood movies and butter chicken on the flight? Bring it on, hostie.