Monday, August 22, 2005

The Journey Chronicles (Part I)

They say, getting there is half the fun. Well, in my case, I can say that it was fun, dunno about the half part.

The journey started at Mumbai airport. All of us were expecting that I can come back after checking in the airport, and meet them in the visitors' lounge. But then, it turns out that the visitors' lounge is closed for security purposes till 17th Aug, and I am leaving on 16th Aug... So the good byes were unexpectedly pretty brief, and I marched off inside.

By now airline travel is not novel experience to me, so completing the formalities is easy. But then, it turns out that BA is fighting their caterers... and we are left with free coupons to the airport restaurants. And I can tell you, whatever they say about the airline food, airport food (at least what we got there) is worse. And it also proves that even though "Army marches on its stomach", airlines do not need their belly full to fly. Maybe it is harder to fly after you stuff your stomach, don't know!

It is said in marathi that we meet Pandit in travels. (But) I met three guys like me, who are going to US of A for education. So there were four people sitting around that table, all four from different places in India, going to four different places in USA. Everybody was dying to call the people we left outside, and so the talk was pretty much limited to banalities, we even discussed Mumbai's weather. (But on the other hand, Mumbai's weather was a national topic of discussion then).

Marching off from eatery, I called up my parents, and we talked on phone even though we were within a kilometer range. कितने दूर, कितने पास... huh??? So the instructions/best lucks were all uttered on phone, and then I decided to wait for my flight to be called.

The line for security check was so small as to be invisible from distance, and the person behind me was wondering out loud if the flight is almost empty or what. The kind of questions he was asking me led me to believe that this is his first flight from India, and his accent was most definitely "फिरंगी". After going through all the checks and all, we talked some more, and turns out, he is going to Canada. I say, OK, a Canadian business class dweller... and then imagine my shock when he turns out to be an NRI straight out of Pune. I hope my accent and my Marathi is not like his after my years in USA.

Nothing much to tell about the flight, it was almost all completed in sleep. The window seats don't help in the night flight (and definitely not in afternoon ones). After waking up, the French coast was below us, and the British Isles were there on the horizon... It was really great to see the much heard of (and much read of in my case) English channel. After all, channels are to be seen, not to be read about ;)

Then it was fairly short distance (by 747 standards) to Heathrow. It really is HUGE airport. Getting for one gate to another is a looong walk, and with a bag in tow, it gets really boring. And when you have to eat something in the airport before catching next flight with just one hour for you, god help you!

Anyways, I somehow caught my flight, did not get lost in that जंजाळ, and was on the move for second leg of my journey.

One interesting thing though, however hard I looked down, I could not see a single cricket ground in the land where cricket originated...