Monday, 5 October 2009
We just returned from a twenty day trip across two countries, nine cities, three airports, innumerable train stations connecting most of the cities in one of the countries.
Seems daunting? Not really. We breezed along quite easily with the one strolley and one rucksack that we each carried.
We didn’t have to fill any forms at the airports. Immigration was a breeze. There were trolleys at every stage. And moving tracks and escalators. Very important given that I, like most others of our generation, have a bad back.
We could walk through the airport straight to the train station to take us to the city.. The intra country train rides weren’t a problem as there were frequent trains, running with clockwork precision connecting cities. Escalators or elevators within the stations to carry your luggage. Steps to push your bags easily from the platform to the train. And there were places to keep your bags in the train while you sat somewhere else and yodelled as the train passed lovely country sides.
I am talking largely of Switzerland, its train stations and of Zurich airport.
And of Dubai airport. The latter had a retina scan but that was a two minute affair without any tension or loss of my few remaining strands of hair. And there was comfortable seating for those who had come to receive us.
We did get stuck at one of the three airports we went to.
This was the only place where we had to fill many forms. Where we landed and had to make the long march from the plane to baggage check without a trolley in sight. Where we ran into a village fair before we could go to immigration. Figured out that it was a swine flu ‘scan’. Where we were first told me we needed one form for the two of us. And that we didn’t need to fill it.
Where we were then sent back because we didn’t fill it as we followed our earlier instructions. And that we needed to fill a form each. Where we thrust our forms through the card. After writing that we did not have fever. Where a hand struck back with stamped forms. Neither us, nor the stamper saw each other. But we were deemed swine flu free. A fact that the folks at Zurich and Dubai airport didn’t overtly care about.
Where our luggage came out on the conveyor belt and was kept on the side while we went through the swine flu tribal dance. Where we continued to wait expectantly by the conveyor belt as noone told us that the luggage from our flight had been kept separately. The only airport where our luggage in the Green Channel had to be screened. For which we had to lift the heavy suitcases far more times than necessary. Bad back be damned. And where we were asked for our embarkation slip thrice. Unlike in other airports where it was one stamp and off you go.
No points for guessing that I am speaking of the Mumbai International Airport. The airport to the commercial capital of India. The seat of one of the largest film industries in the world. And some of the most expensive real estate in the galaxy. A country which many believe will be a super power within our lifetime. Gateway to a country which many of us believe has tremendous tourism potential.
Hopefully someone will look at this once they have decided on what name we can call our city by.
Wonder why tourists don’t throng in till then though.