Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Road To Vadodara: Heathrow to Vadodara

When I die, and there if there is a heaven, it will look like business class on the flight from London to Mumbai. I was expecting just wider seats and better food. What I got was a very comfortable seat that reclined into a bed, with a personal video unit, hot food service, noise canceling headphones and attentive service from flight crew.

The seat was so comfortable that I fell asleep almost immediately after take-off and snoozed for 3.5 hours, missing the first hot meal. The flight attendant later apologized to me for not showing me the seats bed feature sooner, but didn't want to wake me up and show me because I looked so peaceful. I told her that it didn't matter since the seats were so comfortable even in the upright position. She latter brought me an extra sandwich for a snack.

Fuck you Air Canada and the horse you rode in on.

After reading about 2\\3 of "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy, I watched "Mr. Brooks" and a British TV show about India.

Then we landed in Mumbai. In a word, disorganization. Inefficient, disorganization. And lines, dear Gawd, lines everywhere.

Despite being told by both the Air Canada and British Airways ticket reps that our bags were going to go directly to Vadodara, we had to pick them up. I'm glad we asked or we would have just gone through without them. So after waiting to get our bags, we waited in line to pass them through an X-Ray machine at customs. This was after waiting in the line at Immigration to get out Passports stamped. We then waited in an long, slow line to go through ANOTHER identical X-Ray in order to re-check our bags and get another ticket issued for our flight to Vadodara.

That won us the privilege of standing in line to get a bus to the domestic terminal, one which lated over an hour. Of course, at the domestic terminal, we waited in line to go inside and then another line to go through security - again - and have our bags X-Rayed for the third time by an identical X-Ray machine. Another stamp on our tickets and another sticker on our bags ans we were in Mumbai's fairly new domestic departure lounge. The place was full as it seemed everyone and their cousin was going to Jaipur that day (I later found out a big cricket match with Pakistan was happening). The business lounge did not open until 1 hour before our fight so we tried to stave off jet-lag included unconsciousness with Red Bull and Pringles.

We had landed with 5 hours time difference between flights and except for stopping in lines, we no had 1.5 hours to spare.

But just when I thought my adventure was over, a little more excitement. Our flight, for some reason, was not announced by the attendant in the lounge, though the rest were. We discovered tha the flight was boarding and hurried to the gate where, expectedly, we waited in line. It was a short line but added just enough element of delay to make things exciting.

When we got through, we discovered that instead of going down a ramp to the plane itself, we were being loaded on buses to be taken to the planes. Trying to muscle my way through to the Vadodara line was difficult with the cricket fans everywhere and I got there just as the bus pulled away. With the other guy I was flying with on it.

There was about 25 minutes until the flight was to leave and I was sure I was going to be stranded in Mumbai. Gawd know where that plane was.

Finally, a bus arrived and I was able to get on, after some elderly people in wheel chairs were loaded. A touch more excitement as one of those elderly jumped out of his chair, screamed something in Hindi and hobbled angrily off the bus.

The bus ride was under a minute long. It pulled us to a plane that was about 150 meters from where we lined up. Most of that minute was taken signaling to turn.

We got on the plane and sat in very roomy and comfortable business class seats. The flight was slightly delay while the crazy old man who had jumped off the bus earlier was retrieved by his son, who was also on the flight. Once in the air, we got fresh juices and an exceptional scrambled egg breakfast and one of the best cups of tea I have ever had. The service of Jet Airways, even on the local flight, was exceptional. It reminded me of the old Ward Air or CP Empress Class.

Fuck you Air Canada and the horse you rode in on.

We landed, gathered out luggage and headed to the hotel with the driver that the company we were coming to visit had sent.

I'll do an entire post on "Driving in Vadodara" later, suffice it to say, horns are used more than breaks and "traffic lights" are used to inform the driver of breaks in the fence. The ride was as exciting as anything Canada's Wonderland could cook up.

We arrived, checked in and took a walk. Lots of stores, with lots of clerks and people there to help you. Lots of motorcycles and rickshaw carts. And poverty. Despite looking a little like Spadina Ave in Toronto, RC Dutt Road also had its share of the darker side of India. For more than a block as we walked, were followed by a woman and her three children under 4 who seemed to be begging. We did a lap and as we approached the hotel from the other side they were there again. One of the saddest things I have ever seen. I am still unaware of the subtleties of Indian society to understand this any further, but I was shocked. It was pretty clear she was homeless.

The rest of the day was supposed to be a 20 minute nap before lunch. It urned into our bodies deciding to help make the adjustments our brains were trying not to. We slept for most of the rest of the afternoon, had supper and fell asleep about 8:00 local time. I just woke up and began writing this at 5:00 am.

I'll be a little tired later, but a least I shifted into sync with the locals. Another day of exploring Vadodara until we have to work.

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At 9:35 AM, Blogger Dr.Dawg said...

Fuck you Air Canada and the horse you rode in on.

Amen, Brother. Don't even get me started.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Nastyboy said...

Fuck you Air Canada and the horse you rode in on.

Finally, one thing all Canadians from coast to coast can agree on.

Although my last trip on British Air wasn't that great either. But it was during Christmas.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger ADHR said...

WestJet isn't much better. Nor are the American airlines. A pox on all of them.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Jason Hickman said...

Fuck you Air Canada and the horse you rode in on.

At the risk of piling on - Testify!

WestJet isn't much better.

Gotta disagree with Adhr here. Every time I've been on WestJet, I've enjoyed the experience. They even handle weather delays better than our "National Airline".

At 11:42 PM, Blogger JG said...

Well, pretty much every time I've been on Air Canada, I've had a pleasant flight. Though the Halifax-Toronto route gets kinda boring after the first 20 times. Of course, I've never flown business class, but paying double (more likely triple or more for a trans-Atlantic flight) is not really in my budget. One day perhaps.

Air Canada's 767s are being outfitted with the same sort of reclining seats, in fact, and they certainly *look* comfortable.

Were you bumped from first class on the flight to London? Because you should always aim for advance seat selection (in a word, the back on any flight is bad), and then see whether you can get anything better at check-in.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger C4SR said...

Fuck you Air Canada and the horse you rode in on.

I'm starting a collection of the extra large white t-shirts Air Canada gives you when they lose your bag(s).

If I didn't have 50,000 Aeroplan points...

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Rural Empowerment Program said...

Jet Airways is starting flights to India from Toronto, soon Kingfisher from India is coming. Time to find a nice burial spot for AirCanada for their Asian routes.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Jim said...

very nice post. thankyou.


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