david lindsley FIET; Hon Fellow, Kingston  University

… communicating engineering

An extract from “Blind to Danger”

The tumult in the Arrivals Hall of Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Terminal was deafening, with a closely-packed, noisy and excitedly agitated crowd swirling around in a confused and colourful melee. Through the big windows of the terminal, Foster could see that dawn was breaking. It had been afternoon when they left Heathrow and although British Airways’ business-class service had been faultless they had slept only fitfully. At one point Alexis’s head had dropped onto his shoulder and he had smiled down at her in a fatherly way as her light brown hair cascaded over his chest.

Searching the seething mass of meeters-and-greeters packing the arrivals hall, Foster spotted a small man jumping up and down at the edge of the throng, holding a placard high above his head. On it, written in huge black marker-pen lettering was: “Dr Dan Foster” followed by the THI logo.

Foster waved to the man who saw the gesture and gave a broad grin before bravely beginning to force his way through the crush towards them, a porter hard on his heels. Their progress reminded Foster of a tug towing a barge through heaving seas. ‘Dr Foster,’ the Indian shouted above the noise as soon as he was within earshot. ‘I am Aadesh. I am pleased to greet you sir. I am your driver. Come! Come with me.’ He grabbed their hand baggage and commanded the porter to take charge of the trolley with their larger cases. Their small group wheeled round and began to forge its slow progress out of the terminal with the porter using the trolley as a battering-ram to clear away unwary obstacles. ‘Juldi!’ Aadesh cried, urging the porter to go faster – for no reason that Foster could imagine, unless it was merely to give the impression of efficiency.

The air-conditioned terminal had been cold, the odour of the crowd detectable but not rank. Outside, the day was already beginning to warm up under a pale pink sky and Foster smiled as he breathed in the unique, characteristic smell of India in the Monsoon season: a blend of spices, dust and damp earth. There were clear signs of heavy overnight rain all around; concrete roofs and canvas awnings alike were beginning to steam.