Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Journey

It all started well. It always does, doesnt it?

Had a long journey in front of me. It began on wednesday night as I left my house, and headed off to the airport, where I would fly across continents, and 2 of the seven oceans of the planet. Yes, I was going to the New World, as it was so famously called some time ago. Reasons? That u will have to figure out yourself, and if u are a good googler, u'l get it ;-)

Anyway, I reached Sahar well in time for my flight. The ppl at the check in counter were really helpful, and i even became a frequent flier (this on my first int'l flight!). Checked in, went thru immigration, and then sat down at the gate. That part was all ok. 3 am, (local time) we leave the ground, and off me goes to Frankfurt.

This flight in itself was quite uninteresting. Save for the fact that they showed Taxi No 9211 on the flight... :-)
I slept thru it, however.

Reached Frankfurt, and headed off to my connecting flight gate. Was told that I was extremely early. My plane in fact actually reached half an hour early. One must admire the qualityof the way LH operates. Remarkable. Anyway, I headed off to Gate B, the shopping complex, freshened up in the loos there, and then roamed abt. Was in no mind to spend dollars, so headed back to Gate C, and sat down looking at the planes. Something not done since Wall Street. :-)

Thats when I saw familiar faces. And what a releif it is to see faces u know, esp in a country where it takes time to grasp what is being said. (I do know rudimentary German). The Bangalore flight reached abt 45 min after me, and 3 faces from the Bangalore clique were reuinted, along with a friend off to climb an ivy. So D, S, A and I sat together, when I suddenly saw my future room-mates appear (R and G). That made six of us, together in Frankfurt, and all from 3 diff flights!!

Made the stay at Franfurt quite enjoyable, in fact.

1030 local time, 3 of us headed otu for the security check as we had an 1115 flight to catch. The security check had just opened up for us. We went down to our gate, and what a shocker. The line for the boarding passes was huge! US Marshalls everywhere. Got pulled out of line for a quick interview by one US Marshall. Seem to have passed as i was moved on to the counter for my boarding pass. Finally got that, and moved out to the plane with 2 of my friends. The plane was quite full already. I wonder when they got on given that they just announced security checks at the airport!

Anyway, sat down and prepared for the plane to leave. 1130 we were still at the gate. 1145, still there. 1200 we finally took off... 45 minutes late. Not good news considering that I had a connecitng flight from Philly, and only 3 hours in which to catch it. This flight was probably the most boring one I have been on.

Which airline charges for the sale of headsets?? $5 if u want to use the headset to watch movies on the personal screen in front of ur seat. Talk abt teasing you. And it gets worse, you cant watch anything unless the headset is plugged in. So no silent viewing either. Thats the way it goes, and since its a not a favourable remark, I'd rather not right who it was! Given the situation, I thought I'd catch some shut-eye. Not easy to do. It was bright and hot outside the window, and even with the shades down, it was not possible to catch up on sorely needed sleep. Of course, they dont have eye shades in the flight either. So i basically whiled away time trying to crack a couple of sudoku's on the plane. Managed only one, in case u wanna know :-)

Time crawled on... every half an hour seemed like at least 2 hours. I finally dozed off just before they served lunch, so had to wake up again! The food was horrendous. THats all i can say.

Finally, at 1415 local time (15 minutes late) I reached Philly. Rushed out of the plane. Stopped by a Marshall for another quick interview! Passed that and ran on to immigration. First one through immigration. 10 seconds... that has to be a record! Now the trying times began.

Baggage claim. Waited 15 minutes for my first bag. THen the carousel stopped working. Waited another hour for my second bag. Got that at just before 1600 hours. Whew... at least I got the bags... Headed out to customs. I actually cut the line so that I could have some semblance of hope for the 1700 flight to Pitts. As I approached customs, what would you expect. Pulled out of line by another marshall. HE meticulously opened all my bags (2 checked in, 1 hand bag). Looked at what I was carrying, and then (thankfully) repacked the bags too.
Time: 1620

Went through, and there were ppl screaming around for the 1700 flight to Pitts. Was rushed to the front of the line where i could recheck my bags to Pitts.

Now security check. The line was about 200 metres long! And the lady in the front refused to let anyone early. People with 1500 hr flights were still in queue. After unsuccesfully trying to argue my case, I decided to try my student card on the nice ppl in the queue. Met this nice Indian family from Singapore and explained my situation. They let me in front of them, and off I was.

Security check here makes u feel like u are entering a jail. Remove your shoes, your wallets, ur belt, yor handkerchiefs, ur watch. Heck, one guy had to walk thru in his underwear. And yes, again, my hand bag was opened... Only for a quick check. But I had no time. It was now 1655 hrs. My gate was 10 minutes away.

I ran. With 9 kgs on my back and lose shoes, I sprinted down the walkways. Reached my gate at 1700 hrs.

The plane was not yet boarding!!! If only they could tell me that! geez.... Anyway, they started boarding in about 5 minutes, and I was the first person on board. Found my seat, and collapsed.

Pretty soon the flight was filled up to capacity. Met a very interesting gentleman next to me. Had a lot of fun talking to him. I guess that was the saving grace of this flight. Wait./... I havent told u what happened here!

1740, afetr some baggage issues, the flight finally left the gate. As we approached the taxi way, I was wondering which runway we were headed to. The one that I could see, had about 20 planes on it, facing both directions! Somethign was amiss.

1800 pilot announcement, " I cant quite see where we are in the queue right now, but I can see planes that are even facing us on the runway. As an educated guess, I'd say we are gonna be here on the taxiway for at least another 20 minutes."

1810. " Folks, it seems like we are gonn ahve to wait a while. I have cut the engines to ... uh... conserve fuel. "
No engines means no AC in the plane. Soon it was a furnace. Got to talking with my neighbor. An american chap coming back from a business trip in Frankfurt. He was involved in making dense high purity solids for sputtering of precious metals. Had an idea about what he was talking about and so learned a lot more. That helped not think about the heat.

1830. Still at the taxiway. Borrow this man;s phone to call the person who was waiting to receive me at the airport. Informed him of the delay.

1840. Pilot announcement. " Listen folks, I've been tryign to bug the ppl at flight control, but they wont seem to want to budge. I want to make this as easy for all of us. So what I'm gonna do is, take a quick 180 degree turn and cut onto the runway. The entrance is just a littel behind us. So we are gonna make a quick
U-Turn get on to the run way and take off." And thats what he did!

Applause from us all...

And finally they serve us water on the plane! Talk abt service. I think Deccan has better service that this!

Reach Pitts at 1945 hrs. 1 and a half hours late. And no the tale doesnt end yet. Got my frist bag at baggage claim at about 2015. The second bag never came. Checked with USAir at 2110. They left it in Philly.

I could have screamed at tht point. They took my report, contact details and said it would be delivered to me the next day.

It was... thankfully... but not without a sweet note fromt eh Travel Dept saying they opened my bag up for inspection.

So thats how i landed in Pitts... Quite an ordeal and if you have read this completely, apologies for making u live through it with me!


akash mittal said...

so, finally reached pardes ;-)
but yaar it was extremes..ur bag checked atleast 4 times and u being pulled out of line.aur waise bhi tu lagta to poora osama ka bhai.
aur bataa finally settle ho gaya kya?

Anand said...

I believe you reached Pitty in one peice.... [jus kidding]

with 3 interviews, baggage issues, food, head set 5$.
Way to go boy....
from bangalore Wallstreet to a place close to NY Wallstreet.

3 cheers to the Indian family from Singapore.

Abhi said...

hey gps ... give me a buzz from someones phone ... 267-357-1393. Goood to hear that you reached safely. Dude after the whole london incident this was pretty much on the cards .....
So finallly in US ..... Cal me if you can.

Sahil said...

Wow! That sounds like it was quite a ride. I'm glad you made it to PIT safe and sound!

Melody said...

I totally agree with your last line ;)

And congrats on having landed in one piece & on the fact that you're bloggin again!

I'm sorry again we couldn't meet up in Bbay but it was good to talk to you on the phone. Take care & enjoy the US.

I'll be back ;)

vinayatha said...

Gud to hear ur arrival.. vit some fun n lotta mishaps..!

that took me bac to all my flyin adventures so far... talk about huge security checks (tats 1n hf yrs ago too..!!) or missin my flight on return to swades.. or missin my complete baggage the next time... n landin in US vitout a thing in hand.. boy.. tats a nitemare..

n of the AC incident.. our flight frm US was diverted to kochi n we ended up stranded non-AC for 4 hrs... :(

Rahul Kumar said...

I wonder all those security checks and hand bag checks had to do with you wearing the turban.

V said...

hey jeeps,
- delayed flights, boredom are a parts of the deal
- Hope we enjoy our stay!

Archu said...

All's well that ends well..:-D Hope your stay is hasslefree!! Good luck dude! We all miss you here in B'lore!

candid diary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vytesh said...

So GPS, u finally an uncle sam :-)))
coooool man
ur experiences were really elaborate and gud to read yaar
chal then keep mailin
enjoy ur stay in US....happy learningggggg
B bye

Hari said...

Good presence of mind boy !!!!

Cheers !!!!!

candid diary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
candid diary said...

Happy to see you back, blogging :D
It was a bad time to fly after the London episode. Since your jet lag is over I hope to see a lot of your writings, now.
I am delighted to hear you calling horrendous food as horrendous ;D
Please post photographs of CMU life.
All the best.

Aparna Kar said...

present sir!!!

Just registering my presence

zoxcleb said...

@akash mittal
yeah it was quite an experience...

yeah but my second piece came the next day ;-)
quite an expereince.. and yeah the photos will be amazing... wait for the view i have now!

already did... great to have u local now!


so mean... :-P
awaiting ur arrival here!!

seems this wasnt as bad as it could go.. but a freind of mine had a 55 hr joruney.. will blogroll her for ur reading pleasure!

its quite obvious that it was.. so i have taken to wearing a baseball cap now.

i certainly hope so...

the feeling is mutual... :-)


what do u mean??

@candid diary
i actually never had any jet lag.. but thats in my second post!;-)


Kanwarij said...

Thats some price you have to pay for being a Sikh....

Have fun man... B O L


Hakim said...

hmmm... very interesting :-)) ... hope everything else falls into place peacefully ... keep blogging ...

Advitiya said...

Didn't knw there was a new blog! Lol...quite an interesting flight...