Monday, March 07, 2011

Back to USA - Day 0

Ggguuuuuudddd morning; here's your morning reading about what's happening in the other part of the world...
And yeah, before I start – a friend remarked, “Hey, you haven’t completed your last travelogue and now you’re on to your next trip.” Well, there is a little more pending from the Dubai travelogue – so what we’ll do is run both in parallel; like the way we see in a lot of movies lately!

Here we go – the day was pretty lengthy with me getting stuck in a traffic jam that made the 50 minute drive a two hour ride from office back home. The problem with it was that for an hour I had to do clutching and breaking almost every minute – my leg ached when I reached home. At home, I finally wound up with the packing – yeah ,my flight was just 8 hours away and here I was still packing! And i was researching on the Internet whether you can carry one backpack and an extra item as cabin bagage or not - in the end it seemed like I could but I couldn't find any British Airways contact number to verify. I learnt that in Heathrow there was a time (during terrorism alerts) when only one hand baggage was allowed and nothing else was permitted. One hour before the cab was scheduled to arrive, I took a nap.

My friend and I met at the airport which was still undergoing renovation. During the cab ride I wondered, “I’m sneezing here itself with the window open; it is probably somewhere in the mid 20 degrees. How would it be in the place I’m going to which is at negative temperature?”

The airport

Once inside, the first thing we saw was a huge queue waiting for getting their check-in baggage scanned. Fortunately, there was a British Airways lady who came around searching for BA passengers – she directed us to another counter for scanning. Before scanning, the guy had a weighing machine to check weights – 23 kgs per bag was the limit (2 bags allowed). To carry more you’d have to pay more. There was a north Indian couple who had huge bags and they were rearranging stuff from one large suitcase to another. For us, the guy never used the weighing machine – just by lifting the suitcases he knew it would not be anywhere near the 20kgs! In the end we discovered at the check-in counter (the place where you get your boarding card and hand over your check-in luggages) the lady asked my friend, “You are travelling very light, sir.” He was more than 50% below the permitted limit! The BA staff clarified my lingering doubt on whether we can carry a back pack plus an extra jacket (the leather jacket I had was huge - around 3kgs and in itself is like another piece of baggage). The lady clarified, “Don’t worry; even if they say you can’t carry it, you can wear it and go.” Immigration went through failry quickly and in customs since we didn’t have anything to declare we just walked by.

After check-in, we filled up the immigration form which is taken at the immigration check counter. After crossing the queue there, we went up to the security check area on another floor. We had well over 2 hours for the flight when we finished the security check procedure. Our boarding pass contained the gate number for our airline. There isn’t much you can do in Chennai airport since there aren’t many shops to roam about in. And my buddy was feeling quite exhausted and wanted to catch a nap; so we sat near our gate so that in case we drifted into deep sleep the airline staff might notice our ticket and wake us up. He slept for an hour while I slept for around 30 minutes – the 1 hour sleep at home before I started for the airport did help, I guess; I didn’t feel much of a fatigue even though it was 3am! For 15 minutes I roamed around checking out some of the shops - I felt a little hungry but seeing the prices satisfied my hunger; Rs.100 for a veg. sandwich.

Fast and furious... wins the race?

As always happens, announcement was made saying boarding would start and immediately people lined up outside the gate. The announcer then called for women with kids, elderly people first. Then she called for people in specific rows – even then every other person would also try to cross the gate. And the air hostess would stop the person and ask them to wait. It’s like in driving – people try to race ahead in the city traffic by honking and rash driving; all for what? Just to get ahead by a few seconds and I wonder whether these people had the same intensity when it came to pursuing ambitions in life or in their work.

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