Day 0

Perhaps it is human nature to resist anything induced by compulsion like putting off sleep to wait for a flight at 0430 hours. Another day another place I would have stayed up awake happily. Yeah well.. you lose some to gain some. So here I am waiting at the CSI airport in Mumbai to catch a flight to Dubai, enroute to Brisbane. Its my first trip to any place outside India and the added complications of going through customs and immigration and clutching onto your passport for dear life while doing it all sort of stressed me out a bit.

We started off from Pune at around 18:30 hours on Friday evening and after picking some more folks on the way, reached the International terminus at Mumbai at around 23:00. The place outside was swarming with people. I doubt if I have ever seen so many people in the domestic terminus at any given point of time. Every passenger probably had 5-6 more people who had come along to see them off. Some were even making formations on the footpath (with their luggage right in the middle).. to take photographs. We had to go through Gate A, but the guard outside did not let us in as we had another 2 hours before the check-in gates opened for our flight. He told us to go to the ‘waiting room’ that was located after Gate D. So we dragged our bags (about half a kilometer away) amidst all the aforementioned crowds to the waiting room, only to be told that we had to “buy visitor tickets”. We argued that we had valid travel tickets, but apparently the ‘rules had changed a day earlier’ and everyone wishing to enter the waiting room had to shell out Rs.60 to get in. We were bushed after a day at work and the long ride and decided to give in. What we saw inside was funnier. It was nearly empty inside and of the handful of people around, most of them were sleeping in wierd postures. Some had their legs in the air and a few girls were even sleeping under the chairs (uggh!)

Anyways, we were hungry and bought some sandwiches. Turns out that the sandwich shop guy liberally bathes the sandwiches with cheese and then decides to charge Rs.10 more. And the sandwiches were not too nice either. Don’t have them ever if you are waiting at the ‘waiting room’. Also, all this while we were looking at the podium that was being built and would be used by the Chief Minister of Maharsthra to ‘wish the Haj pilgrims traveling by charter plane, a happy journey’.
Around 0100 hours we started walking back to Gate A. The check-in line was long and the computer at the counter where we were checking in decided to crash itself at that very precise moment. So after a franctic – ‘this one is not working, get me another counter, call the IT guy, fix the boarding pass rolls correctly’ and some more general busibodiness by the counter staff we managed to check-in.

Next was the Immigration Desk, which I am afraid I have to say is not conducive for short people. The desks are way too high and I had to prop myself up on my toes everytime I wanted to make myself heard. The officer was quite nice and passed me through. The Security Check process was also accelerated as I was passed onto a new queue and voila! I land up at the Duty Free section. We boarded and very soon were on the way to Dubai. I fell asleep somewhere near Karachi, but was woken up by the airhostess who wanted me to choose between some kind of omlette and wada-sambhar for breakfast. Point to note.. make use the of the ‘Do not Disturb’ stickers. The lights of northern Oman were shimmering early in the morning and was a beautiful site. We flew out into the Persian Gulf and then turned back to arrive at the Dubai International Airport shortly after 0600 hours local time.

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