“I’m sprouting wings”, that’s how I described my onsite opportunity to UK to my friends in my mail yesterday. There were a hundred forms to fill, a million tiny things to buy (gloves?) and a gazillion things to remember before I could say “I’m done!”. When nearly (95%) of my 6 page checklist was crossed off that I wore my jacket and boarded my taxi.
The taxi driver was a spiritual seeker in disguise. When our discussion meandered into yoga, he knew even the Sanskrit terms for every chakra in the body (there are seven for those who don’t know). No amount of information provided by the Travel Kit' prepared me for the labyrinth called the Airport. Of course the old trick of Uncle, uncle can you tell me works. But the simplicity of the answer dumbs you down at each attempt.
It’s actually simple. You reach the airport and wait for Check in. Check in is necessary for the non-cabin luggage (usu. 2 pieces) but starts 3 hours before departure (a term not very confusing till you meet its alter-ego Arrival'!) Check in is the first time you would see your luggage being X-ray screened. Then a tag is bound around each piece. Then you move towards your airline’s boarding counter. A female wearing heavy makeup (ok a PYT) gives you a plastic card called boarding pass and a boarding pass by the Indian govt. at this point your luggage is weighted and your check-in luggage crawls out of your view into a cave curtained by leather strips.
Whew! No more luggages to trolley around. The next counter you’ll see is the immigration. Produce your Work Permit, Boarding Pass & Passport. Now begins your long wait for the security check because it’s done only half an hour from departure. Don’t fret, what I did was use up all my remaining coins (you don’t need them anymore) in the Local call and STD booths. Securities check does a body scan and cabin luggage scan. I realized quite late that you cannot carry scissors or knifes in your cabin luggage. Sadly, I surrendered two shaving scissors at this stage. Finally you get to board the aircraft.
My co-passenger was another guy from Infy called Sameer. The Swiss airhostesses are as expected - stunners. I greeted one of them in German, which really struck a cord. Next time she conversed in German and with a bit of struggle I replied. The window seat afforded a absolutely stunning aerial view of Bombay. Trust me with all those yellow streetlights and buildings at night, Bombay looks scintillating. I was quite impressed by the in-flight entertainment system, and finally got to see the flick “Cat Woman”. It was not very impressive or gripping. But somehow I like the anime-like qualities in such movies and hence enjoy them. As a result, I slept very little.