Monday, April 14, 2008

The journey and the new Hyd airport

The journey to Hyderabad with transit at Colombo:

Early morning bus at 5am from university to Heathrow airport. I am all alone in the university bus station which is open air and the air was freezing. There was not a soul to be seen on my 15 min walk to the bus station from home and no one seen even during the wait for the bus. And then it snowed. As if it was snowing just for me. Given that it rarely snows here (like once a year), it was awesome to look at the university through the white speckles in the air.

I tend to sleep a lot during flight journeys .. but my next seat neighbour seemed intent on breaking all possible records. He was asleep throughout the 10 1/2 hour journey to Colombo. He refused to wake up for meals, shooing away the air-hostesses like flies. He was woken up once, by a determined air-hostess so that his chair can be set upright by her, but before she could do this 2 -second task .. he went back to sleep and had to be woken up again!

Colombo airport has a lot of security personnel .. we obviously know why! Srilanka is very very green when seen from air .. perhaps like Kerala? (can't say for sure since I have never been to Kerala :D). From air, saw Srilanka's northern coastline and then India's southern coastline including the arc ... was wondering whether I was looking at Kanyakumari?

Finally, land at Hyderbad's swanky new airport, one of the first few flights to do so. It is so far from the city that the city wasn't at all visible from air during descent. After landing, we all had to wait in the flight for quite some time since the aerobridge (the one we walk through to reach the building from the plane) could not be attached easily and took like 20 mins. Anyways, we then go into the building to be faced with locked glass doors. Apparently it was the opening on this particular gate. So there was a lot of paraphernalia with saree clad girls ready to give roses and put teekas .. photographers all set to click us walking in and so on. All these people were on the other side of these locked glass doors. And then the officials on that side started their frantic search for the keys. No one had them! So, they were all shouting into their walkie-talkies :D. Comments from the passengers on this side about inaugurating the doors by breaking them open did not please the officials either :D. Finally, one guy comes to the rescue ala the key-maker of Matrix :D. Later, there were almost no immigration officials, people could have just walked through quickly since the few officials were crowded by impatient passengers and had no clue what was going on :D.

The return journey:

The 30km journey to the airport took an hour and half. That too on a lazy sunday afternoon. However, this time I had a good look at our airport and it did look pretty good. It matched the standards of a good international airport. Infact, it was very much like a good midsized airport found in western Europe :). Now for the details --

£. The arrivals is on the lower level and the departures on the upper level just like the old airport. However, the arrivals area for the people waiting is an open air lounge with lots of places to sit and a few shops so that people can relax while waiting and not be up on their feet all the time like it used to be.

£. Only passengers are allowed into the airport as in any other Indian airport. I guess this policy will remain until the number of people coming to send off a person reduces from 10 to say 0, 1 or 2 :D. Anyway, the check-in hall is impressive, even had self check-in machines (not yet put to use).

£. The immigration counter official surely needs some training (atleast in reading). While searching for my UK visa, he chances upon the Swiss visa and enquires whether it was the UK one (when its clearly written Suisse on it and wasn't completely in english) and then when I point out the correct visa to him, he is unable to find the validity-date and turns to me for help again. No, the valid-until date is not hidden anywhere but very clearly visible on the visa at the position where all the visas I have seen until now have it (top right corner).

£. The airport seems to have 35 departure gates (thats a huge increase from the 4-5 earlier :P) of which some 12 must be for international. The whole area had a lot of seats around and good, well placed air-conditioners. There are many shops too. And surprise of surprises, it has a Hard Rock bar, which is already open! However, since we have very few international flights from Hyd, the whole international departure area was quite deserted.

£. The main 'Indianness' that you can find at the airport is the abundance of staff around :P

Waiting at Colombo airport for the connecting flight wasnt too boring as they were showing K3G on all the TVs there. In hindi with sinhalese subtitles and bemused western travellers.

5 comments:

kunal said...

no interesting anecdotes this time? how come you had a straightforward journey :P ?

thread said...

here's the obligatory one legged comment :p .. of course, i didnt read the post.. i'm just a comment troll

Anonymous said...

[i]In hindi with sinhalese subtitles and bemused western travellers.[/i]

lol

the-think said...

Sounds like a short trip...aren't trip homes wonderful though!
Hope you got to visit what I left behind - Bangalore :)

mythalez said...

@kunal, the universe sometimes decides to be 'not cruel' to me .. , btw, my return flight was more than 2 hrs delayed :P

@paccha, a comment troll .. or perhaps a comment 'thread'? :P

@anonymous, :D .. would like to know whoever u are :P

@persephone, yah yah I did visit Bangalore !!