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Aping the West can be an exercise in folly. After the "yes we can too" faus pax of the Commonwealth Games preparations I was in for a nasty surprise when I arrived at the spanking new airport at New Delhi, the Indira Gandhi T3, from Kathmandu. After disembarking from the Indian Airlines jet onto the airway bridge all 150 passengers had to wait on the bridge for at least 20 minutes as the receiving Indian Airlines ground staff had gone AWOL. Desperate mobile phone calls from the irate pilots notwithstanding, nothing happened at all reflecting the timelessness of ancient India until the seasoned traveler took over the herd mentality in me and I went a floor up the ramp to the embarkation gate and knocked. Thank God the policeman on duty was alert and he was good enough to open the glass door to find out why I was knocking. He transcended the doubting Thomas in me and came down the ramp to the arrival gate and with a quick swipe of the security card opened the gate to none too rapturous applause of the passengers already fatalistically resigned to bad karma and missed onward connections.

Mind games involved in peripatetic jetting about the globe takes a toll on the body and soul after having to endure delayed flights, endless waiting, indifferent food and lost belongings culminating in a vow to never do it again - until the next time of course! It all started with the delayed flight from Kathmandu. One wonders why the flight you are on is the one delayed on that particular day: when you fly Jetairways, that is the one delayed on the day; when you fly Jetlite, yes, again that is the one delayed on the day. Now I had "safely" chosen Indian Airlines as it had now become Air India - somehow bigger and better I thought - and the delay was by four hours! Had it been for the wait at the departure lounge of Kathmandu's TIA resembling more a North Indian railway station of my distant memory from the sixties, I would be a goner, but "source and force" had bought me a luxurious Radisson Business Class Lounge and the interminable wait was at least tolerable for the insane sciatica I am suffering from.

A short and rather sleepless night in New Delhi is the fate we Nepalese suffer from while flying out to foreign destinations whenever we choose this route as the flights are always very early in the morning. This time too flying Turkish Airlines was a challenge as one had to get up at an ungodly hour to hasten to the airport - only to find the flight had been delayed by at least 4 hours due to the heavy fog at Istanbul airport. Four hours is a long time to wait even at the spanking new T3 but thankfully I was in the Business Class Lounge provided by Turkish Airlines. After the flight took off came another pang of anxiety: could it make it on time for transfer to the flight to London? Thank God I had bought some duty free items as gifts at Delhi airport I thought or I would not have had the time to do the shopping in transit in Istanbul. Panic set in when the aircraft landed as a quick look at my watch told me I had no more than half on hour for the transfer and what would happen to my checked in baggage? No, I did not miss the connection to London; I had to wait another 6 more hours at Istanbul for the same! Angst in German perhaps comes closest to describe the frame of mind one is in with the lack of sleep and interminable waiting. 

The time to board the aircraft came and another rude surprise was waiting for me in Istanbul. The duty free bottles - one whiskey and another Champagne - I bought at Delhi came in an open bag and now the Turkish security would not let these items aboard the aircraft; only sealed bags from the Istanbul airport duty-free shop would be allowed. Either India is too slow to catch up with the ways of the world or Turkey is too quick to ape the West in the hope of becoming an EU member state soon! Both bottles went to the trash bin although I could not but have a nasty suspicion that both the bottles would go to the guards on duty for an evening of revelry. I finally arrived in London some six hours later and two bottles lighter than scheduled.

The epilogue of this travel blog took place at Madrid airport. On the way back to London from Madrid I would buy those two bottles all over again! To my consternation and surprise the bottles came in open unsealed bags. Will they allow these into the plane I asked? Yes, no problem was the reply. And there was no problem. Now someone please explain me that: EU to EU? Non-EU to EU? SAARC to non-EU? SAARC to EU? The mind reels!   


  1. Yet another word has been added to my vocabulary - peripatetic!

    Waiting to read the rest of your travel angst, i.e. Madrid to Kathmandu. Hope it's smoother and you don't lose any more sleep or liquor bottles.


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