To the United States!

Posted August 9th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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The start itself was horribly jinxed. The flight was postponed to the next day and I had to rebook my tickets on the previous day’s flight ( which was also luckily delayed by a day!!)The confusion was apparent at the airport cos there were horribly long queues for every thing. The immigration check took us nearly 2 hours. So all in all by the time i finished checking in the baggage ,completed the formalities and had the security check done I had barely 20  minutes left before the scheduled start of the flight ( and this too because I was in the business class line for checking in : courtesy a friend’s uncle). Anyway there were loads of ppl left even when I had finished so it was evident the flight would be delayed. .  ..Anyway by the time all the passengers were seated it was already 1.45 am (the scheduled time of departure was 12.45am) But problemo again……Some extra baggage got loaded or something and by the time all that was cleared and the flight took off it was 4.30 am By this time I was certain I would miss my connecting flight .so I relaxed and sat back and tried to enjoy!!! The journey itself was quite boring and I slept thru most of it.
We reached Heathrow at 9 am ( London time) . I had a glimmer of hope that I may even make my connecting flight but no way they were bent upon making this a memorable trip!! There was some fog at Heathrow and therefore the they couldn’t land the plane. So we landed instead at Cardiff International airport at Wales. which was a small airport even by Indian standards. But there was more to come … The pilots had completed their allocated quota of airtime and so couldn’t fly us back to Heathrow. So there we were stuck in the goddamn plane ,,,bahar bhi nahi ja sakte the!! Cardiff was such a small airport ..they didn’t even have enough buses to ferry us across to the airport .. To get all the passengers took them 2 hours!! It was 9.35 when we landed and 11.15 when we reached the airport! Then we had to undergo a long process to get a transit visa. The flight was full and staff at Cardiff inadequate so a five minute task actually took them two hours to complete So three more hours of waiting in a never ending queue…

NOTE: If this mail seems full of queues be assured it was so I spent more time standing in queues than the actual flying time and I thought queues in India were bad!!)

By this time I had ganged up with a group of Indian students so the talk was familiar the jokes were plenty and we all collectively cursed the BA authorities who had abandoned us!! But then came the rudest shock. We were supposed to collect our baggage and transport it ourselves to Heathrow!!! Most of us had three bags weighing a total of nearly 100 kgs so you can imagine the agony we went through. So there was another long queue to collect the bags and there we were waiting again for the bus to take us to Heathrow, They required seven buses and of course the first-class travelers got the first preference! It was 2 pm by the time the buses came and after loading that luggage (WHEW!!!!!) and getting settled it was nearly 3.30 pm by the time we started to London…

This was actually the highlight of the trip cos i got an excellent tour of the entire English countryside For those interested in a description please reply with a blank mail with subscribe as the subject . You will get periodic descriptions of Life in America as an added bonus!! The journey was around 3 hours and we reached Heathrow at 7 pm Suitcases nikaala aur khade hai qatar mein to get tickets for our onward journey . By this time the seasoned travelers had become wise to the situation . They knew exactly what had to be done …IT was of course we students who were treated us second class citizens. Moreover we were impeded by all that baggage ..Lugging 100 kgs up and down is no mean task I tell you!!! Anyway I got my tickets confirmed by the next days flight …the same one I was supposed to catch :but a day later! By this time It was 10 pm . Then back with bag and baggage to Hotel Sheraton to spend the night . We had to wait ( of course!!!!) for an hour in the chilly English weather at night for an hour for the bus to arrive–we were a group of 20 odd students–by this time we were ravenous the last food we had was in the plane at 8.30 a.m. in the morning. Now the best part there was no direct bus to the Hotel …So load bags get off midway unload them all and reload them again!( by the way almost all the bus drivers in England were Sardarjis with long flowing manes!!) The food at Sheraton was ….well……… English!! The hospitality at the Hotel was bad….. Some say it is because of the racial discrimination but I think it was because were staying courtesy BA ..there were not even porters and we had to carry the luggage ourselves to the rooms!

Anyway the bed looked welcoming…The sleep was erratic cos we students do not qualify for services like wake up call ….the receptionist didn’t even bother to pick up the telephone!!! so I had to wake up a couple of times in the night to check the time! We checked out at 6 am and were back the same way to the airport !!Actually the next few minutes were the most scary part …Till then I had all these students but suddenly I was all on my own ,…new place ..no confirmed tickets and all these formalities! and no idea what to do next! Well!!! when there is nothing there are queues…so checked in baggage and went thru the entire process of security checks et al and boarded the plane! The rest of the journey was uneventful ..Jayasree chechi and Jay had come to receive me so it was fine.

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