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Kiwi couple caught in a time warp!

If you're an Indian visiting New Zealand for the first time, it's possible to learn a new thing everyday. When we flew from Wellington to Napier, it shocked us that we completed the journey without our tickets or boarding passes being checked --- you check in at an automated touch-screen kiosk, writes Anand Vasu.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2009 17:13 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
Hindustantimes

If you're an Indian visiting New Zealand for the first time, it's possible to learn a new thing everyday. When we flew from Wellington to Napier, it shocked us that we completed the journey without our tickets or boarding passes being checked --- you check in at an automated touch-screen kiosk. What's more, we weren't frisked even once nor was our carry-on baggage searched. We could well have been al-Qaeda operatives with a bagful of explosives!

Diane and Ian Thompson, our hosts for the day, met us at Napier airport, which is matched for its basic nature only by Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. With Lionel Richie scheduled to perform at the Mission Concert — the highlight of the Hawkes Bay social calendar — every hotel, motel and lodge was booked.

The Thompsons — Ian arrived here after a seven-week ship journey from England in 1955 — occasionally let out what used to be their children's bedroom. They did not know our names or what we did, yet were happy to take us in for the night. "You won't get a room anywhere, Jimi Hendrix is playing today," said Diane. We had to tell her it had been 39 years since Hendrix had died.

In the end, even Richie could not perform. The non-stop rain had made conditions at the outdoor venue unsafe and for the first time in 20 years the Mission Concert was cancelled. Nearly 25,000 tickets had been sold; fortunately, the paying public was to be refunded.

What amazed us was how the septuagenarian couple took us into their home without running even a basic check. They still work on a dial-up Internet connection, "not trusting" the broadband, but were more than happy to give us a key to the house when we went out to buy Indian food, which they happily shared. "I'm a painter and I've done hundreds of portraits," said Ian, also into farming and making cider and wine. "I can usually judge a person from his face."

On a day when a concert was cancelled because it was unsafe, and security was beefed up at cricket grounds after a bottle-throwing incident, here was a couple somewhat stuck in time, trusting in the basic goodness of man and being none the worse for it.