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Bhutan – A memorable holiday we had


This is what happens when you decide to write a long post like a travelogue. I started this post on November 18, 2013 and never got to finishing it. Just releasing it today, May 11, 2014 to let it off.

Just returned last Thursday from a memorable 9 day holiday in Bhutan. And believe me it was worth every minute spent there. Unpolluted air, pristine nature…. Floored me completely. The population of Bhutan is less than 0.7 million which would probably be the population of Matunga, the locality where I live!!! Small wonder that there is no noise there, the people are happy and they LIVE life unlike us in the city who are always running from one place to another like the world is coming to an end.

We traveled from Mumbai to Baghdogra via Delhi by Air India and it was a smooth ride. From the airport we got into the Tavera which would be our vehicle for the rest of the journey driven by our Bengali driver Navin (Nobin as he called himself). He drove like any Formula 1 driver and reached the border town of Jaigaon. The border crossing was no big deal and he just drove across. You are allowed to cross the border at will just that you need to get your travel permits done once inside to travel further. We stayed in Hotel Druk which was about 500 metres from the border. Infact it was so close that we got the Indian mobile network and used it to call home:-)

The next day we first got the travel permits done. Navin had it all organised and all we needed to do was to get ourselves photographed and he collected the permit after an hour. In the mean time we went to the mobile shop nearby and got a prepaid SIM card (for which you need to submit a copy of your Travel permit). Costs Rs. 5 a minute to make a call to India which wasn’t as bad.

We started for Thimphu, our first destination. The roads are winding and treacherous. People with motion sickness beware. My nephew, Dhruvit threw up big time on the way. The stop over at a small Bhutanese joint was avoidable honestly as the food was completely different from what we are used to. The weather en route was COLD so make sure you are adequately covered.

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Missed Flight – Beggars can’t be choosers

Missed flight

This line has been used by me very often and have shortened it to BCBC. Today (January 17, 2014) I find myself in that spot honestly. Was to board the 1800 flight from Delhi to Mumbai and I was kinda over confident that the flight would be delayed considering the fog etc. The counters close 45 minutes before and I made it 41 minutes so missed the flight by 4 minutes or rather 240 seconds. So near yet so far. Ran helter skelter pleading with the powers that be (suddenly everyone for me became Sir and Madam). Last resort was to cough up a hefty sum and booked myself by the 2330 flight. This is when I told a fellow passenger who was in the same situation – Beggars can’t be choosers. Now I am sitting completely jobless here at Delhi T3 Terminal not knowing how to kill time. There is a glimmer of hope for me as I feel some dimwit like me will show up 4 minutes late for the 2030 or 2045 or 2100 flight and I will get to hop-in in his place. Hope Hope Hope….. And also hoping that someone else says BCBC…..

January 19, 2014 – The above post was written sitting idle at Delhi Airport. What eventually happened was that I met up with Senior from VJTI (Electrical), Kartikbhai and had an interesting discussion. Also met Prof. S Mantha who had taught us Theory of Machine (TOM) in the VII Semester at VJTI. So it was VJTI all the way at Delhi Airport.

Yes there were two people who did not show up (God bless them) and so Kartikbhai and me made it on to the 2030 flight which took off only at 2115 but no complaining. All’s well that ends well.

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A Memorable Journey back home from San Francisco

This has been some memorable trip for sure. I am still not back in Mumbai but must blog about the memories of this return leg of my journey. The entire trip to the US was uneventful (leave aside the spider bite) and could meet so many people out there. Started off on Monday morning (July 18, 2011) when Yogesh dropped me off at SFO Airport at 1040. The flight was an Air India code share with Singapore Airlines from SFO to Singapore departing at 1410 and then after a 10 hour layover I was to reach home on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 1330. Yogesh wanted to wait till I checked in but I said don’t bother and finally he relented and I went in. At the check in counter, I got a shocker. They said they do not have any such booking and then they went in and it seems Air India said that someone had cancelled the booking. How ridiculous!!!! I called up Yogesh who conferenced me with Zarin was extremely courteous and first thing he told me “Don’t panic, we will work this out” Had it not been for him and Abbas there at Arzoo, my blood pressure would have gone through the roof honestly. They got the team involved and numerous calls went back and forth. Finally at about 1 pm, all of us gave up on Air India and they booked me by Emirates to India. Thank heavens!!! Meetabhabhi had packed some food for me even though I was against it as the flight was at 1410 but ladies have some 6th sense and they can foresee things we can’t, so I had that for lunch. The Emirates flight was at 1645 from SFO and the fun now started as I was in the boarding queue. They announced that the incoming aircraft had a snag and had to land in Toronto so we would now board only at 2240. Wow. I went through the security and got past by 1610. Thank God for free Wi fi, and I could watch live news on Indian TV, even had a video chat with Hiten and called and spoke to so many people at length. Made the most of the AT&T prepaid whose connection was thanks to Parin. We boarded around mid night and took off at just around 1 am. After 15 hours landed in Dubai at 0300 local time and here I am sitting at Dubai Airport. While we were scheduled to leave by the 0355 flight from Dubai, when I reached the gate here, they said that there was no time for the luggage to be transferred so the whole lot of people were put on the next flight at 0935. So 6.5 hours to kill of which 4.5 have passed. The new terminal 3 is swanky and impressive no doubt but honestly having spent 14+6.5 hours at SFO and then DXB airports for a 15+2.5 hour flights I am now dog tired and seriously want to get home and rest.

What I learnt from this trip:

a) Use to book your tickets. They really pulled me out of the mess created by Air India.

b) Never ever fly Air India. Had it with them. Small wonder that they are bleeding profusely……

c) Select a decent airline for such long haul flights. You never know what can go wrong.

As I wait at the gate for the Mumbai flight (0800 here) I am hoping that there are absolutely no surprises in store now for me on the last leg of the journey.  I am not at all prepared for anything more now.

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Air India making profit from misery

Egypt is presently going through the worst Civil unrest I have seen in recent times and just this morning, I was watching the news and wondering that I should laud Air India on the blog today for doing a great job of ferrying Indians stranded in Egypt to India. But all of it changed when I saw in the headlines in the Times of India a few minutes later that they were infact fleecing passengers in times like these. While I do agree that they too have to make profit and cover up their costs of ferrying an empty plane to Cairo just to fill up people and bring them back, the least they could have done is not made outrageous profits from people who were already down on their knees. Air India wake up!!! You are losing market share for sure and such inhuman methods will only see you lose it all.

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Traffic at Mumbai Airport

The traffic at Mumbai Airport is getting just too much. Last night I was returning from Bangalore by Indian Airlines ooops Air India with a scheduled arrival at 2330. We were as usual circling in the air near Pune for some time and landed at 0005. So far so good as the delay was just 35 minutes.
Then started the torture…. after touch down they decided to park us in some remote corner of the airport…. It took a while for the step ladder to be put into place and then the bus ride to the terminal was ugh. There was massive traffic on the road from the plane to the terminal resembling something like Mumbai roads during peak hours. It took us more than 30 minutes post touchdown to get inside the terminal. Finally made it home at well past 0115. I felt it really was too much.

Air India v/s Jet Airways

Last night I landed from Delhi by Jet Airways 9W354. The landing was so weird that while landing the plane tilted slightly on the left. The thud with which we landed was terrible and the left tyre was making noises as if it was a burst tyre …. I was scared and staring out of the window to check if any sparks or fire was visible. The plane rolled on making a noise as if the tyre was punctured much to my discomfort and also a lot of other passengers. Much as we malign Indian Airlines / Air India, I would say they land much better than Jet Airways…..


A joke called Air India

Air India has become a punching bag for one and all. Last week they had this strike by pilots and there was mayhem at the airports as flights were cancelled left, right and centre. As if this was not enough on Saturday, the pilots and the crew got in a free for all fist fight as they were flying over Pakistan!!!! To add insult to injury this morning I saw on the news that their flight from Calicut to somewhere in the Gulf was cancelled / delayed as the crew spotted a rat onboard. Oooof and to think that I am flying them next week as well as in November!!! Gosh no way am I flying them again thereafter.