Tale of Two Airports.

We who are groomed at the Drone’s club do know a thing or two, though it  is not a commonly accepted fact, the transformation of information to knowledge to epiphany tends to happen at that “eureka moment” how it hurts that this Drone’s vocabulary has been copyrighted by the blighter called Archimedes if I am not wrong.

Any way sitting at the Hyderabad airport I sorely miss the entertainment provided by the airport staff of Bangalore or Goa. You don’t get to see those smartly dressed ground staff, clutching to the walkie talkie like it were the last life line of Kaun banega crorepati , calling out to people that would put the vision of an Indian Bazaar in a British Raj story to shame, the hustle of, ”passengers to Vijayawada or whatever wada ” is sorely missing.

That gentleman Nehru would be highly thrilled how his socialistic values have translated, think of this, the inherent vice of capitalism is unequal sharing of blessings, so we “Kingfisher airlines ”owned by Mallya so on and so forth,  never mind that the plane is constructed in a factory supported by ordinary taxpayer, never mind the road we take to the airport the Vayu-Vajra floated by the Karnataka govt. are all taxpayer sponsored, Mr.Mallya is the owner of Kingfisher..then the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries, so we have stinking toilets in the airport and messy floors. Not to mention hollering mothers and rolling kids.

Coming to think of it, we have not really evolved from a railroad station, its just that to reach airport we have to take a cab 20 miles out town no wonder literature guys do not say ,”as pretty as an airport”

Just so that I do not think that we have turned capitalistic, the announcer goes,

“flight 6Ewhatever from wherever will be arriving shortly”

“flight 6Ewhatever has arrived from wherever and we welcome the passengers.”

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Bangalore Airport

“passengers travelling to Goa on indigo flight-XYZ, please proceed to gate 23,”

Guess what we could follow the announcement, I mean we could hear it and understand it…. the secret was revealed to me through a quiet SMS that Hyderabad is a silent airport, so we have no loud announcements, the boarding announcements are made at the right time and closed 25mnts prior to the take-off.

Hopefully we are finally evolving.

Fret-Flight

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6.20 pm passengers hustling the airport staff, as they in turn hustle people for boarding the flight going the opposite direction.

Some blighter in his  lack of wisdom, said that our learning capacity decreases with age.

It really isn’t so, instead of Makemytrip.com and its infuriating customer care we opted to book through Yatra.com who actually do not care for customers.

The fly out trip was quite uneventful and just when I accepted that with age everything mellows the return trip happened. There are some things that do not change with advancing age and experience like if the departure time of a train is 7.20pm then one is at the railway station by 10 to 7, the airlines demand such etiquette too, they actually ask to check in 2hrs before.

So 7.20 departure, that would mean 5.20 check in that would translate to leave the house at 3pm, we have to make allowances for the rush-brigade. But this day the roads decided to open up and let us zoom through and we were at the airport precisely at 4.30.

As I entered by airport, I was knocked down, and it takes a lot knock me down, for if your were to fish my body from the Mandovi I would be called a woman of substance, anyway knocked down by what I thought was cannon in action, and before I could pick myself up I hear a loud tirade in Hindi for moment it was as if I was in someone’s living room where the  war of siblings was on, then I realized it was the Lucknow Gharanah on the move.

Its not so bad, a rather pleasant looking young man, was kind enough to tell me, that I should wait in the chairs that were in front of desk 12, for that is where TruJet check in took place, and that it would open at 5.20, when I do get there at 5.20 I had to disturb this young man on his mobile, and he was again kind enough to tell me that the counter has been transferred to 74-75.

Wadding through the ocean of unoccupied chairs, kids rolling on the floor and shooting around like miniature turbo’s I reach  counter 74, all formalities done by a nice little girl who looked like she was thrown to the wolves, and she tells me madam you had better rush the boarding is at 6.30.

Security clearance, done and I arrive at the terminal guess what the boarding was on, for Vijaywada. The pretty airline staff in smart Air Asia uniform, did the true type exercise that the passenger hustlers in the local bus terminus go, “passengers to Vijyawada, any passengers to Vijayawada,” sounded exactly like how achanna the travel agent called out at the Manipal bus-stand,”Udupi-Udupi-Mangaluru” delivered in classic airport English accent.

The Vijayawada guys went away

Here we were awaiting our flight. Right from 6.30 to 8.30 till we eventually took off,

Never more did I miss the Indian railway and its announcer saying,”yatriyon kripaya dhyan de Gadi sankhya GI che-sat-che thodehi samay mein platform number teen par aane ka sambhavana hai.” It kind of keeps us aware, and we know how much of time we have to pick up that samosa, eat it, should we have that cup of tea and most the last minute rush to the loo to be taken care off…

From 6.30 to 8.30 the amazing excuses we were given in order that it was rendered,

  • The aircraft is here, the staff are yet to come… 6.30 to 7.15
  • The are having a small clearance issue and we are sorting it.
  • The craft is a small craft, so we are having landing issues, this at 7.40

The only thing seems to evoke a civil answer is a threat to tweet about their bad service.

Honestly courtesy basic civil behavior seems to be a vintage occurrence.

After this on the scout’s honor I promise never to fly to any destination where the trains can take me.

Smart Auto

The Telangana government has definitely been proactive,

At the Hyderabad Litfest there was the electric auto’s on display. With two owners giving passengers a tour round the literary festival zone.

The auto’s felt good, amazing colours that it came in and some how it did not look like the harassed communters rescue operation, but it felt like a luxury ride, smooth and clean.

Aslam Haidiri one of the drivers who is one auto driver who opted to volunteer to use this for 6mnths and give a feed back to the government. Impressive exercise in itself.

The noise level was extremely low.

Passenger leg space in the current scenario is extremely good.

At the drivers space it is good, too, it does have the option of self start but the drivers are advised against it.  the engine needs intial 24hrs after which the charge has to be maintained, at least that is what Mr.Haidiri explained to me, according to him it works to about 70paise for a km, which seems a very good deal.

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Auto-Rani

There are also built in billing system, which gives a printed bill to the customer.  This comes with zero pollution.

As a driver Mr.Haidiri was commenting that it takes, few minutes for the bill to be generated and customers tend to be impatient.  After the trail ride I was however left with a few questions, where will the charging points be? I mean will we have public charging points like the mobile chargers have… again Mr. Haidiri says there is a move to have solar charges that will allow the auto to get charged as it is parked.

I only hope it won’t go the same way that the electric run two wheeler or the Rewa went.

 

 

Making My Trip

Welcome to muckmytrip.com… press 1 for current booking…press 2 for whatever,

Required number pressed…

“goomoningiyamRakeshfrommuckmaiytrip.comhowmayIhelpyoutoday”

Pause…deep breathe

“Good morning Rakesh, My name is Rastapopulous Mindyourbusinessova, and I have a booking for Timbuctoo on the 30th of February I need to make some changes”

“Mr.MIndyouhbisnissnowa…do aih h’av da permission to call yah Rastapopulous?”

“okay, but it is not Mister it is Doctor,

“Okay, Dr.Mrs.Rastapopulous madam, Let me tell you I am here to help you how may I do so?”

“like I told you, I have a booking for February 30th I would like to postpone it but my ticket is a combined ticket for eerie miniee and mynimo and me so I do we do it?”

“Let me tell you Rastapopulous, I will need your PNR number then I will connect you to the airlines you can tell them your problem and they will break your PNR”

“What about the costing.”

“Let me tell Rastapopulous, the airlines will have to break your PNR and then we can go forward, I will connect you to the airlines please stay on hold.”

“Since I have booked the ticket through you can’t you do it for me?”

“Let me tell you Rastapopulous…” the call gets disconnected.

Redial muckmytrip.com and this time after all the preliminaries “yellomynameyizaneeshahowmayihelpyoutoday?”

“I was in conversation with one Marrakesh we got disconnected,”

“yamsorryma’mbutRakeshisonanothercall,howmayIhelpyou?”

“I have a booking to Timbuctoo on February 30th; I would like to reschedule it.”

“Can you give me your PNR number”

“XYX1234ABC”

“Okay  itisatickettotimbuctooforthe30thoffebraurypassengersrastapopulousenniemeanieminiemow ifaiyamnotmistaken”(it is a ticket to timbuctoo, for the 30th of February for Rastapopulous,Eenie,Meanie, Minimow if I am not mistaken)

Well she was not mistaken.

“canaihafyowfonenumber?”

“9221465465”

“You are Rastapopulous Mindyourbusinessnova”

“Eureka”

“How may I help?”

By now it is already 45mnts. Out, I take a deep breathe

Kindly reschedule my ticket, the others fly as scheduled.”

“okahma’mai’llconnectyoutotheairlinesandtheywillbreakthePNRforyou”

“Hell they will I booked the ticket through you you damn well do it, I do not have the time for it.’

 “please hold on”

She is definitely more efficient than her colleague,

“Dear customer your call is important to us, please hold on while we connect you to concern airlines.”… Call drops,

I rush to the loo, before I embarrass myself, and the mobile rings.

“Hello my name is Winnie pooh and I am calling from muckmytrip.com, kyameinMr.Rastapopuloussebathkarsaktahoon?”

“You may not, unless you speak English or Kannada or Tamil, or any language that I can understand, ”

“’well Mr.Rastapopulous let me tell you once your trip is over please contact us for the reimbursement of the cancellation”

“No Mr. Customer care, Let me tell you cancel my booking and send me the modified ticket that’s it.”’

“But your booking Sir,”

“Mind your Butt; it is madam and not sir,”

Phew, that is a relief,

I dial 0820-2570100,”hello, Lambodhar here,”

“Lambodhar I have booked flight tickets and they are a mess”

“Do you have a previous booking?”

“Yes”

“Give me the PNR and I will get back to you in about an hour is that okay”

“Fine,”

Half an hour later, I get a message, “your PNR XYZ1234ABC has been cancelled and your new PNR number is NML1234ABC for the 30th of February by gone with the wind aircraft, and NML789WLC for the 15th of March”

Lambodhar never lets me down.

Though I have modified the names, this is an real experience, by the way Lambodhar and his contact number are real, the man is amazing.

Discovering Woman Power In Kerala

ranjitha-1I went on work to Kochi,

The work output was disastrous which more a material for a soul searching blog.

But it also meant I was out of work earlier than schedule, just as I was figuring out something to do, I wanted to go to Mattancherry the Jewish quarter,  there was a rather loud alteration going on, I do know Malayalam is kind of louder than Kannada, yet one does not anticipate an auto-rickshaw at a place like the Crowne plaza and still less loud voices.

It turned out, that the auto-driver was someone who came in regularly to drop people and this time round there were two foreigners who were intrigued and wanted to converse with the driver and that kind of offended the gate man.

The driver intrigued me too.

The smart young man at the travel desk was quick on the uptake, he figured my interest too.  he signaled a mutual settlement, spoke to the auto driver and told me, I could get into the auto just outside the gate.

Now if you are wondering what is so amazing about this driver she was woman.

She told me she would charge me 200/- for the morning, she would take me round the Kochi spice market, then to  another site, after which she said she would take me to the Thevada folklore museum, and pick me up after two hours since, ”madama..rendu…hour..nokaano..” I assumed that it was Malayalam to tell me I would need 2hrs to see the museum.

To me she was very intriguing, and we had a conversation, me speaking a mixture of Tulu-Tamil-English, and she a mixture of Malayalam-Tamil-English, we had chai at the “cutting chaya” picked up “aluve-varthakai” .(banana halwa and chips)

Ranjita that was her name had the rather familiar story of being cheated after couple of marriage. Her husband told her he was going to the gulf and she never saw him again, to bring her two children up, she decided to drive the auto, initially she said she did only school trips because the income was steady and she felt respectable.

That kind of hurt, she said, somehow being a driver for hire it was a huge challenge for the mentally, one day she said, she talked to a woman who was working as domestic help, it then struck to her that the domestic help was also hired, so did not have to feel polluted she was actually in a better position because she had an investment to her name that is her auto, she owned a vehicle.

She says office going women, hire her on monthly basis then there were two elderly ladies who she would take to doctor on weekly basis.

She was proud of children who went to school and studied, that they did well in their exams, Ranjita’s daughter is very proud of the fact that Ranjita dared to be different.

The day was really fruitful, and Ranjita dropped me to the folklore museum where I discovered another wonderful woman.

 

 

Culture in the Supermarket

The terrors of the future will not come from the drab repressions of an encroaching bureaucracy, but from the neon lights of a thousand supermarkets, the sounds of a million automobile accidents and from the public cremation of the dead astronauts as they return to earth.”
― Christopher Riche EvansMind In Chains

This was the opinion I walked around with until I went to Lulu’s Hypermart in Cochin, as I browsed the shelves I had an epiphany that this could be like the traditional open Kochi market with varieties of rice the red and white variety, dry fruits which Kochi was trading point for, pepper in sacks, I could be shopping in a clean air-conditioned local market.

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Jogappa Shanbag our spice man.

1946 is apparently when the first supermarket appeared on American scene. Its not really very long ago. Though books by Agatha Christie do have a reference to grocery being packed in wrong sizes in bags, but until then where was the food? Well it was in homes, gardens, local fields and forests; it was grown in the kitchen garden they were cooked fresh and stored in the pantry, there was no branding.

Our rice came from our fields in the village, and vegetables were carried to us by women who grew them in the back yards so this entire concept of empowered working women is an old hat. Oh! Our spices came either from spice market during the Jatra… the village fair or bought from Jogappa Shanbag who doubled as the medicine man.

When we were young it was a given thing in among surgeons to go to England for a year do their MRCP or FRCS as it went return and talk about the travels as vividly as the narration of Sindabad the sailor, the existence of the supermarkets was one of the destinations to be addressed.

When the supermarket cult hit urban India, I kept thinking here it comes the “the Nth Aryan invasion” like Ms.Marple we will be buying our grocery in wrong volumes, the stocked would be homogenous without respecting the local food habits.

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Ragi Hurihittu in the More. chains of highland Karnataka

Over the last three years, I have made it a point to observe the Big Bazaar in various towns, what I find interesting this also holds good for the retail chains like More… And Hyper-mart – the shelves are stacked with very ethno-specific goods. Like the Big Bazaar in Hyderabad has varieties of chutneys both wet and dry. The range of pickles is also amazing. They pack it up in small quantities like 100 gms  if you ask for it.  the vegetable section had banana stem on sale too. on the rack with masala along with usual Everest masala’s there were lot of local small scale industries with very specific Andhra masala like the Bagara Baingan masala. While the Bombay Big Bazaar was high on the Goda Masala, instant sabudhana khicidi and other Maharashtrian fare.

The super markets in Bangalore were high on Ragi and Ragi products.  While in Kochi we saw varieties of avalposi and banana in their breakfast and cereal section. The traditional masala mix for stew and avial and other coconut curries though the sales girl told me they were not as popular as the frozen masala’s. the vegetable section had local traditional vegetable cleaned, cut, sliced as per the cuisine’s need.

Maybe a visit to the local supermarket might be an eye opener to look into the food culture.

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avalposi from Kochi Lulu’s Hypermart

 

 

 

Packing For a Road Trip

Am back from one road trip, and realized how much of unnecessary things I was carrying,  So to work things out here is what I did, I made a checklist.
A road trip is essentially a journey via automobiles, sometimes impromptu; it could involve some spiriting activity.
Before come into to the checklist of must have let me go through the stages of deciding what the must have’s are.
• Where are we going on the trip?
• When are we going?
• How long are we going?
• Who are our travel companions?
Very often travel instead of broadening the mind merely lengthens conversation!
A road trip needs to be planned well in advance. With at least a list of 10 places that we could like to see,
The next phase would be deciding the stop over’s, after which the travel breakers as a continuous journey might be difficult. These would depend on the travel companions.
The checklist would be then under the following titles.
• Essentials
• Safety
• Cleanups
• Boredom busters
• Extras
I would first put out the clothes and these would be decided on the availability of washing felicity during the trip. Things like:
• Tickets and bookings
• Automobile papers and coins for toll gates etc.
• Identification papers, emergency contact numbers
• Coins
• Cell phones with recharge vouchers.
• Water preferably cooler
• Medicine chest with prescription drugs, roadside first aid kit, general first aid kit, tablets for travel sickness.
• Toiletry, detergent for clothes.
• Flash light, emergency sewing kit. A nylon chord
• Wet wipes, paper towels, toilet papers.
• Trash bags
• Laundry bag, preferably a bucket which can double up if need arises
• Books for reading, and notebook for travelogue,
• Camera.
• CD with music of each traveller’s choice.
At the end of it all I would decide the size of the travel bag. Put in half the clothes I kept out and hopefully double the budget. 

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This kind of works for me you may want to tweak this or create your own list.