Nagpur NAG after Gwalior Gag, Jul'14http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com ... 14842.html96.1 Back-to-back: Gwalior, and then...
The Gwalior trip actually got fixed after the Nagpur one.
At the time of my trip, Gwalior's only air connection was a
Mumbai flight, on a CRJ-700. Gwalior had no air link with Delhi.
It would have to be done on train. Yes, the Nagpur trip would be
by air, Air India to be precise, at least in one direction.
At the time of writing, I recounted an conversation on this very
forum, with prominent aviation analyst and writer, Ameya Joshi.
In my piece on my Nov'13 return trip from the USUS,Nov'13-5: Haring back, Return from O'Harehttp://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com ... 14255.html
I had written about using a pen or pencil to use the remote
control for the IFE unit, on VT-ALJ `Jammu and Kashmir', the
B77W in service that day, on the trip from Chicago to Delhi.
Some small buttons were missing, that is why.
``Your description of missing buttons and using pen and pencil
reminds me of using pen and pencil to start the fan in railways''
I replied, with a chuckle, ``When one uses paper and pen (and
the keyboard) for Indian Railways fans, the result is http://www.irfca.org.''
And how did this Gwalior trip come about?
Could I stay on till about mid-day, in Gwalior?
I managed to snag the last ticket on a noon-time train from
Gwalior to New Delhi, on the Chattisgarh Express.
For the New Delhi to Gwalior leg, I was on the Bhopal Shatabdi.
While the Alstrom coach (E1) was relatively neat and clean,
it did show its age. So did the once-impressive upper class waiting
room at the New Delhi railway station. The Commonwealth games
renovation had given the New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) quite a
face-lift, but some old lacunae were rearing their ugly head, once again.
Some air-conditioners inside were not working, though the room
itself was neat and clean. We Indians do not change much.
People were lying sprawled all around the place, with people sleeping on
the benches (three at a time), and on the floor.
This train gets a lot of foreign tourists, most of them bound for
either Agra and Bhopal. Agra is the eternal favourite as a
tourist destination in India, and a large part of the Caucasian
crowd (and a large number part of the Japanese one, as well)
is usually destined for the city of the Taj. Bhopal on the
other hand, has foreign tourists on the Buddhist circuit, most of
them headed for Sanchi, close to the city of Bhopal. ThestUpa
at Sanchi can also be seen from the train.
For trains coming out of Bhopal for instance, the Sanchi stUpa
can be seen to the right. The three countries from which tourists
patronise this train are Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
We started on the dot, from New Delhi station's platform number 1
(the Paharganj side), and sped towards Gwalior. The Bhopal
Shatabdi was (at the time of my journey, Jul'14) India's fastest train
as far as the instantaneous speed goes.
The train actually used to touch 150kmph in a stretch
between Agra and Delhi, though engines in India are capable of
doing far greater speeds. The track infrastructure precludes the
regular travel at exceedingly high speeds however. The 2014 rail
budget announced a high speed train corridor between Mumbai and
Ahmedabad, so India would perhaps see a bullet train, after all.
The itinerary for this leg of the journey was as follows:
Set out 12 Jul (Sat) for Gwalior (GWL) from New Delhi (NDLS) at 06:00 am
12002 Bhopal Shatabdi Express, Executive AC Chair Car
Coach C7, Seat 04 (Window) [PNR: 246-0799346]
to reach Gwalior (GWL) 03 Jan (Tue) at 09:23 am - 09:28 am
The announcements on the train were loud and clear.
For a change, the announcements have been modified, in a way not
to announce what the stops on the way are famous for.
I wonder, why.96.2 Food for Thought
The bottle of mineral water was foll wed by a choice of hot
beverages. as is my wont, I went in for the coffee.
Even before the coffee went into my system, my sleepiness went
out at the sight of the sachet of instant coffee inside
the beverage pack. Nescafe Classic. I needed something warm at
this moment, so I went on with it. I washed it down with a cup of
hot water, lest any remnants of the ghastly taste linger in my mouth.
I rinsed my mouth well.
Cup? Yes, I was travelling in the Executive class (this was an
official visit). Beverages were served in `Meals on Wheels'
branded chinaware. There was a pack of two McVities Digestive
biscuits to give the beverage, company. I like Digestive biscuits,
whatever the company they come from, Britannia, or McVities.
Ah, I can visualise my friend Mr. Frederick Foresight admonishing
me for my language usage. `Company' should have been replaced with `brand',
but the weak pun would not even raise a ripple, otherwise!
The decision to wash down the insipid coffee was an inspired one.
It had a side-effect, which would be useful if I were at home.
The hydraulic pressure created by the warm water often coaxes the
other part of the digestive system into action.
The bowels now wanted to empty themselves into the toilet bowl/well.
Before things get too gross, let my quickly divert my mind into
other activities. On the train, that is exactly what I tried to
do, as well. After all, we would be served breakfast as well.
Would it be advisable to make space for that, right now?
I decided against it.
The hungry pig that I am, it was at 07:10 am that I was
contemplating when breakfast would be served. Around Agra?
No perhaps, since a large proportion of passengers was destined
for the place. Just then, the breakfast tray made its appearance.
I pinched myself, just to check if I had fallen asleep.
Since the main course was still some time away, I took a picture
of the items on the tray, and drooled, as I read the menu.
As this time, I could expect cornflakes with milk (which I love),
brown bread (another of my favourites) with butter and honey
(the love for this delicacy is not limited to Winnie the Pooh, alone).
The fruit served would be an apple, and orange or a banana,
announced the menu. It turned out to be the cheapest of the lot,
a banana (which I like, by the way).
A gentleman also came with a jug full of steaming hot milk.
Why do most Indians seem to love their cereal with piping hot milk?
My bowl got filled to an acceptable limit (beyond which the hot
liquid would not do any favours to the clothes of the person
trying to have it, or the skin under the clothes, for that matter).
I decided to delay the corn flakes-with-hot milk experience as much as I could.
I started with the brown bread. It was nice, moist and fresh.
The `Hearty Brown' branded dual slice pack has some interesting
history of bread printed behind it. It said that the Egyptians
were the first to add yeast to bread, transforming it from flat bread,
to something lighter. It also said that Otto Frederick
Rohwedder was said to be the father of sliced bread.
I uttered a silent thanks to him, as I read the third line, which
said that around 10,000 BC, man first started eating a crude form
of flat bread, a baked combination of flour and water.
I opened the butter chiplet to be faced with another bummer.
Warm butter. Ugh.
Another item we Indians seem to like.
Come on, why do we not like our butter, rock-hard?
The bread went in with the butter, and most of the honey.
As I experienced the fluidity of the honey in the sachet, I let
about half of it drip into the hot milk.
Two sugar sachets looked at me invitingly, but a sudden vision of
The Wife admonishing me for ingesting too many useless calories,
made me resolve to enjoy the corn flakes with the honey.
Once it cooled down, of course.
The banana went in next.
No, I could not wait for the main course, as I was hungry.
The milk had cooled down a bit by now.
The corn flakes disappeared in no time.
The main course came in just then.
The non-vegetarian offering had a two-egg tomato-and-onion omelette
(with just a hint of green chillies, for that yummy
flavour, as opposed to a generous serving of the same, which
would set my brain on fire), on a bed of boiled peas, and a slice
(cottage cheese). I doused it with tomato
sauce/ketchup, and finished it in no time at all.
I looked around me. Boiled eggs also constituted an option.
The vegetarian options includes iDlI
raised rice dumplings) vaDA
(a rice-and-pulses doughnut
deep-fried on the outside), upamA
a delightful durum wheat
preparation with vegetables, and sAmbhar
, a pigeon
peas-based preparation with seasonal vegetables. I had spent quite a
lot of time debating as to whether I should take the
non-vegetarian option at all, or go in for my favourite South
Indian snacks. The North Indian offering was a parAnThA
wheat-based fried unleavened bread), with pickles and
curd/yogurt. Other items on the menu includedchanA-kulchA
, which had large gram/chick-peas
, as opposed to the more healthy kAlA chanA
, black gram or Bengal gram) cooked in a
gooey spicy gravy, and served with kulchA
, a leavened
and baked North Indian baked bread.
By now, the train was approaching Agra Cantonment.
We had stopped at Mathura, on the way.
It as then that deep sleep set in.
Dhaulpur came and went, and we crossed the picturesque Chambal
river, which I saw through my drowsy eyes.
I woke up (in the proper sense) some time before the train
stopped at Morena, the penultimate stop before Gwalior.
The train was five minutes late.
The gluttony which had taken place before, was now telling on me.At Gwalior, my first pit stop would be...a pot stop.96.4 A train-related indecent digestion-related digression: forum-round-up
A prominent member of this forum (the WhatsApp version, to be
precise), hates train journeys, primarily
because of two bodily noises, snores, and farts. Let us call him X.
X wrote, ``Just finished the tomato soup and bread stick on the
12951 Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express. The uncle in the next berth
is lying down, and has already farted loudly, twice.''
X posted a picture of the person in question.
Y replied, ``Can't see the fart in the picture.''
Z added, ``Trains are where people sleep on, and half the things
that go on in the human body cannot be controlled, so...''
X clarified, ``that least he's a bit far away. Sound effects only.''
Y replied, ``sound travels faster than smells,'' but then reasoned,
``you are talking as if...there can be a precise control on farts, how much,
how long, in which direction, with or without noise...''
W nudged in, ``maybe with enough practice...''
X replied, ``Aircraft farts get passed into the cushions, and
then slowly stink up the surroundings.''
Z posted a picture of a comparison of sneezes and farts. With a
sneeze, one's heart stops, the face explodes, and boogers and
disease spray out of the mouth at 70mph. The result is that one
gets germs on people around, and they respond with, ``bless you''
and ``Aww...you poor thing.'' For the other, it relieves gastric
distress, one feels nice, it sounds nice, and releases a tiny
cloud of methane. The result is a harmless action, but people
respond with ``I don't love you, anymore.''
X said that he had a captive audience as well, as he couldn't run
out of the compartment, either.96.5 A Whirlwind Gwalior trip
I had woken up at 04:00 am for this Gwalior trip. It would be a
hard day's work. I sleep-walked back to my room in the Guest
house at around 11:30pm. My friends were shocked at my resilience:
for once, I did not sleep at all, all this while. When I hit the bed,
I did, and had great difficulty in dragging myself out of
bed the next morning. 13 July 2014, a Sunday. Work meant an early
start to the day. I reached the breakfast table embarrassingly late,
and finally managed to make it to the meeting on time.
Would it be over by lunch time?
By the time it was over, so was the time to catch up with lunch.
I had to set out, now.
The vehicle as nowhere to be found.
When it was finally located, it was time for the train to leave the platform.
The scheduled time, that is. My host had texted me
that the train was thankfully, late. When the driver was finally located,
he rushed me through lanes and by-lanes, in an attempt
to get me to the station, on time. Platform 4 was the closest, so
he dropped me there, with three minutes to go, for the train's
revised arrival time. As I rushed down, another train made it to
the scheduled platform 2, which made a confused Sumantra drag his
huge weight back to platform 1, to check out the situation at the
enquiry counter. Finally, the train turned up 50 minutes late.
Set out 13 Jul (Sun) for Hazrat Nizamuddin (NZM)
from Gwalior (GWL) at 01:51 pm - 01:56 pm
18237 Chattisgarh Express, I AC
Coach HA1, Seat A2 (Upper) [PNR: 623-1624635]
to reach Hazrat Nizamuddin (NZM) 13 Jul (Sun) at 07:45 pm - 08:15 pm
I had checked my berth and coach number on the Internet in the morning,
so there were no suprises here. It was an upper berth,
but the facing lower berth was empty. I took the liberty of
setting up myself there. The Wife texted me as to whether I had
had anything to eat, and that it was raining at Delhi, finally.
Gwalior in the summer, often has a temperature about two or three
degrees Celcius higher than the temperature at Delhi.
Gwalior was dry, and scorching hot.
The city was on fire.So was my belly.
The realisation slowly dawned on me that even if there were a
pantry car on board, chances of me getting a decent bite would be
remote, at this late hour.
At 03:50 pm, a cup of tea announced itself as possibly the only
calories I would get. This announced itself as the evidence of a
pantry car on board. However, it would not be of much use.
Much to my delight, a member of the catering staff came in
exactly ten minutes later. Bread-cutlet, bread-omelette, and chowmein.
I wanted to avoid white refined flour, and decided to
opt for the chow-mean. Yes, I mean...it was mean.
It had a full two days' quota of salt for an ordinary person,
smelt strongly of ajinomoto (the infamous monosodium glutamate),
and had a few shredded vegetables, and was cooked in
an amount of oil that would fulfill an ordinary person's daily needs.
I was hungry however, and went in for it,
ending up poorer by forty rupees...and heavier, by forty pounds.
Or so, I felt.
It would hopefully, hold me in good stead, till dinner.96.6 Nagpur beckons...with an even earlier start to the day
03:15 am. What an unearthly time, and way...to start the day!
I woke up with a start, as the alarm announced its role of a saviour.
After the morning duties performed in a jiffy, the friendly cab
operator arrived outside at the scheduled time. We set out for
the airport, IGI airport, T3, and reached there in the humid darkness.
It had rained in Delhi the previous afternoon.
Air India officials were prioritising passengers for certain
flights at check-in. First was the Pune morning flight AI 851.
This was followed by the above Bhubaneshwar-Port Blair flight,
and the Nagpur flight.
The date was 14 July, 2014.
Air India had formally joined the Star Alliance three days back.
This was my first flight after Air India was formally inducted
into the world's largest alliance of airlines, the Star Alliance.
14 July, 2014. Two and a half years back. And this sight has become
quite standard at airports, now.
Indeed, this was the Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi.
A Hussain painting.
The greenery inside the IGIA T3 is always a treat for the senses.
The early morning low lighting simply adds to the magic.
Cars form a prominent part of the usual display at IGIA T3.
Here is a lovely Audi A6 2.0 TDI.
Here is another view of the car's lovely lines.
A Nissan Terrano was up, next.
Another view of the same, with the driver's door slightly ajar.
Set out 14 Jul (Mon) for Nagpur from New Delhi
AI 469: Air India (A319) [Seat: 04F; PNR: HK0GK]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International
Airport (Sonegaon Airport), Nagpur
New Delhi (DEL) - Nagpur (NAG)
[05:45 am - 07:10 am]
Would I be able to see the SF the `safe plane'? VT-ESF was an old
ex-Indian Airlines double bogey V2500 engine powered A320, which
had been painted as a Star Alliance logojet. The Star branding
was there at all places. The check-in monitors carried it.
So did the boarding passes. The planes had the Star Alliance decals,
but the logojet was not to be seen around. From the
domestic departures side, I examined the view outside, from in
front of the food court escalator. There was an Air India
Dream)liner at an international gate, and another approached there,
stealthily, as if it were a salamander. The Dream)liner's
nose reminds me of this reptile each time I see one! On the other
side of the domestic pier, I looked out of the T-junction windows.
There was an AI B77L in the middle, operating the
morning flight to Chennai, I guessed. The small planes visible
around included two (yes, that surprised me!) ATR-42-320s, one in
the new Air India flying swan livery, and one in the original
Alliance Air livery. The older one had its tail light on. Two Air
India CRJ-700 `masked bandit's were parked there, out of which
JE the `Junior Engineer' plane soon pushed back for its morning
flight, I guessed, to Bhubaneshwar, and Port Blair. 96.7 AI 469, DEL-NAG 14 Jul'14, and at Nagpur
I headed to the designated gate 34A, where CK, the `stylish'
plane (VT-SCK) was waiting for us. Loads looked moderate, about 70% or so.
The displays here also had the Star Alliance log displayed.
The Star Alliance also prominently figured in the announcements,
with regard to Star Gold members, for instance. Boarding was
announced row-wise. For a change, I was pleased to see perfect
order being maintained, and no one boarding out of turn.
Captain Vipin Kumar Bhalla was in command. The flight time
announced was 01:25 hours. I was pleased to see the old Indian
Airlines-style pattered interiors inside. Much to my delight, the
plastic surfaces were grime-free, and the plane looked nice,
though the fabric looked a bit tired. The PTVs being on was a
positive sign (it was Jul'14). The safety demonstration was shown on the PTVs,
with both the audio and video in good shape. The big question was,
would they leave them on for the rest of the journey?
Air India stopped offering programmes on the PTVs, circa late 2016.
Much to my delight, the PTVs came on after we reached cruising altitude.
5 of the 6 non-AVOD video channels were showing programmes.
The 6th regional movie channel did not have any content.
Channel 5 was showing Hindi film songs including old ones.
I stuck to this, for the remainder of the flight.
To my disappointment, the audio channel content had not been loaded.
A view to be moonstruck, all the while.
The `refreshment' came in. I did not expect anything, and I was
not disappointed. Two Marie biscuits in a small packet, and a cup
of hot passable instant coffee. While I was not disappointed,
I was hungry, in addition to being sleepy.
The Vidarbha region is a very dry one, yet when the rains come in,
the view is simply amazing. A few lakes are located in and around Nagpur.
Is this the Ambazari lake, by any chance?
Captain Bhalla had put the plane down like a feather,
on Nagpur Sonegaon's runway 32.
Captain Gupta's Continental Airways B720B lay derelict close to the
32 end of the main runway. The plane has now been towed away to the
North-East corner of the airport, I believe.
My friend (and host) picked me up from the airport. The baggage
had come in relatively quickly. He is an electrical engineer.
Both of us share a passion for food. The breakfast in the Guest
house was filling, but the AlU parAnThA
unleavened bread, with potato stuffing inside) was the result of
`thin-film' technology, he said.
We shared three
breakfasts among us.
The day would proceed with me struggling to stay awake, but to my credit,
I did not fall asleep even for once. The working lunch
was a grand offering: a Maharaja thAlI
from Haldiram, the
famous confectioners, who hail from this city. I was more than full.
I commented to my host, that this would guarantee me
sleeping in the post-lunch session. Miraculously, I didn't.
When I got back to my Guest house room around 6pm, I did not wake
up until 9pm, when he came to pick me up for dinner.
No, I could not be one of the courses for dinner, he picked me up
to take me out for dinner, where he treated me to a nice
Maharashtrian-style chicken curry with its rich and spicy gravy.
When two friends get together after a long time, it is almost
mandatory that there be some constant leg-pulling,
and jokes will flow around, at the other's expense.
It is also almost mandatory that alcohol will flow around as well.
We joked around with Maharashtrian surnames.
(He is a Maharashtrian himself).
At teacher at his alma mater is named Waghmare (literally, one
who has killed a tiger), who once had a group of two students working
with him, with surnames Singh (not really a Maharashtrian surname)
and Bakre (literally, lion, and goat). The examiner was a Wagh
(literally, tiger). As we were gorging on the food, this
completed the food chain, we contemplated.
Talking of other surnames, he joked about
a Pati from Orissa, Patni from Punjab.
That rings a bell, he said, reminded of a chain of thought.
``Yes, that is the only thing ringing. He is not taking the call,''
he said of a common acquaintance, whom he was trying to get in
touch with, on the phone.
When the food was taking some time to come in, he mentioned that
one just has to be patient. Doctors like patients, though we were
doctors of a completely useless kind, of no use to the country,
society, or humanity, as a (w)hole.
Vidarbha is a dry region of the state of Maharashtra.
It got its first rains that afternoon.
Even the skies cry out, when I land up at a place, I surmised.
And hit the bed almost immediately.
My friend had insisted, that it was a dry region, but then,
people did not believe in dry days. Cheers to Bacchus worshippers like us!
Alcohol is supposed to be a good night-cap.
The second-best, as they say.96.8 AI 469 NAG-RPR-DEL
The Nagpur flight from Delhi has a unique same number, on the
circular route. Initially, it used to do DEL-RPR-NAG, and come
back to Delhi straight from Nagpur. Changed ATC timings at
Raipur's Swami Vivekananda Airport, Mana, Raipur: ensured that Raipur
would be covered on the return leg.
I have written on Nagpur's Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International
Airport at Sonegaon, quite a few times, on this forum.
It was my fourth trip to Nagpur by air, and fifth trip in all.
The previous visits had me saddened a bit, on the state of the
new terminal building at the airport. It had been built quite nicely,
but the upkeep had been rather poor. This trip sprang up a
pleasant surprise. The washrooms had been completely re-done,
with lighted mirrors, nice fittings, and was maintained well.
I have appreciated the security X-ray installation here, before.
The installation has trays come in towards passengers in a slope.
The other side of the machine also has a slope on the outside,
to enable trays to slide out of the machine with ease.
I have not seen this anywhere else, on my travels all around the country.
My friend came in on the dot, at 6am, and I was at the airport soon.
The Air India check-in had opened early, and I was air-side
in almost no time at all. I headed to the first floor waiting
hall, and fired up my laptop. Our plane came in at 07:17 am, some
seven minutes behind schedule, and made a very soft landing on runway 32.
It was CV, the `biodata' plane, VT-SCV. An Indigo
flight to Delhi also came in, and started boarding - before us.
We would take off before them, however.
Ms. Saroj was in charge of the cabin, and made some extremely
professional announcements, with some great voice modulation.
There was pride in her voice, as she welcomed passengers to
`Air India, a member of the prestigious Star Alliance'.
Captain J. S. Dhaliwal was in command.
This was a familiar name: I have flown with him at least four times,
prior to this trip. The flight time to Raipur was announced as 25 minutes.
The loads were in the region of above 80%.
I fell asleep on the plane soon after, and Captain Dhaliwal's
feather-light landing on runway 24 at Raipur gently woke me up
from my slumber. I looked on interested, as almost half the plane
got empty at this point in time. Air India possibly has a winner
on this triangular route, with the right aircraft type.
The temperature at Raipur was 26 degrees Celcius, the same as I
experienced, on landing at Nagpur.
The plane was refuelled at Raipur.
We had a full flight here. The plane completely filled up on the
economy section, while at least three of the eight business class
seats were occupied, from what I could see from my seat, 04F.
I could see the port side of the plane alone: three of the four
seats were occupied. The plane was pleasantly clean, with the
fabric also looking fresh, in addition to clean plastic surfaces.
The PTVs were not switched on, to my disappointment.
Captain Dhaliwal took off from runway 24 at Raipur.
Ms. Saroj announced the flight time as 01:45 hours.96.9 Surprise, surprise...a filling snack! circa Jul'14
The regular reader may have understood what I am hinting at.
Unfortunately, I did not get the hint right then.
I got it some time after take-off, when some lovely re-heat
smells wafted around the cabin. I did not hazard any guesses,
lest I be proved wrong, and disappointment set in.
The cabin crew had two senior ladies, and some fairly fresh
ladies and gentlemen. I was drifting in and out of sleep,
waiting for perhaps the usual refreshment of a hot beverage,
with two biscuits, with only the Business class passengers getting
lucky with the lovely aroma wafting around. Before the recent
cost-cutting measures in vogue at the time of my journey (Jul'14),
Air India used to serve a full breakfast on this route,
in both directions, as recent as the previous January.
``Veg, or non-veg, Sir?'' asked a pleasant voice.
I was taken aback.
As I muttered out my usual preference in a confused voice,
I was handed over a full tray.
The presentation was not anything to write home about.
The food had possibly been loaded at Delhi itself.
Or had it been loaded at Nagpur, which would perhaps partly explain
the slight delay? Of course, the Indigo A320 was a much larger
plane as compared to the Air India A319.
The white bread sandwich was a cheese-and-cucumber one.
While the bread was not sliced in a very precise manner,
it tasted extremely fresh. It must have come from a good bakery
around, and certainly was not a usual brand of sandwich bread.
That was a good start to the meal!
The main course had a slightly strange half flat bun, with some
molten cheese, sauteed tomato and onion topping. The bread again
tasted very fresh, and the cabin crew had performed the warming,
to perfection. The skewered chicken pieces were slightly
`conventional' and a bit over-done, but the taste was quite
acceptable. The serving was quite generous in itself. I had this
with the tomato sauce/ketchup.
The dessert did not appeal much to the eye.
It was a slice of cake, with red and green garnishing.
The slightly garrulous garnishing however did not tell the entire story.
It was a vanilla cake, with a hint of ghee
The aroma of the combination of the two was unmistakable.
The cake was moist, and tasted very fresh.
While it did not take the cake, it was certainly a piece of cake.
The coffee was the usual brand of instant coffee.
It was strong and hot however, so I was not terribly disappointed.
Captain Dhaliwal landed the plane like a feather, on the new runway 11.
From the pleasant 26 degrees Centigrade of both Nagpur and Raipur,
we had landed into a very warm and humid 33 degrees Celcius Delhi.
Ms. Saroj was on the air again, and in her pleasant voice,
made announcements in both Hindi and English. She said that
Captain Dhaliwal and the crew thanked passengers for making Air
India, a member of the prestigious Star Alliance, their airline of choice.
The content, a well as the delivery, embodied the
pride she took in working for Air India. There was no
standardised announcement, it was made in many different ways, by
members of the cabin crew, talking straight from their heart.
I texted some details about the flight, to a common friend.
He asked an improper question about the cabin crew: Hotties, or haughties?
The service on this flight was far from the latter kind.
As we taxied to our gate, a sight came before my eyes which one will
miss for the times to come. The CRJ-700 `masked bandits' are due
to leave the Air India fleet quite soon, possibly in 2017.
The other plane in the picture is a beautiful Air India A332,
whose left engine nacelle had been damaged in a freakish incident,
when a sudden freakish thunderstorm had blown a step ladder right in here.
I focussed on the damaged nacelle.
Connections were announced to ATQ and CDG, Amritsar and Paris.
I have often found connections being announced on the basis of
connecting passengers: Air India passes this information on the
basis of the passenger manifest. What if some connection is missed out?
The announcements usually cover the ones which they have,
but occasionally they announce other connections,
or make a generic announcement regarding passengers with connections to
come to the transfer desk, with agents making announcements
usually around the gates.
It was nice to see Air India taking its Delhi hubbing seriously!
I will sign off with three nice pictures visible at the arrivals level:
this is where the connections are facilitated: there are Air
India transfer desks around this area. The first is a common sight,
two Air India A321s, one at a gate, and one on a taxiway.
There were two Air India Regional (Alliance Air) ATR-42-300s on
the remote stands this day. The first was one in the old Alliance Air colours.
This was BD, the `Indian cigarette' plane, VT-ABD.
The second was BO, the `smelly' plane, VT-ABO.
This beautiful bird had been written off in an accident at
Calcutta airport around end-May 2016, when a Jet Airways bus had
rammed into the engine, in the early hours of the day, putting a
temporary halt to all of Air India's short-haul operations to the
North East, for a short while.
Links to my 96 trip reports:https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/