Jan 17, 2007

Why is my sidebar still down there?... and more India

As I was saying, we don't even know if they'll let us land. Some time later, we hear that they are in fact permitting us to land, but this is a priviledge reserved only for long-haul flights with connections and the planes are being spaced out over time. We had gotten a late start to begin with, and now it looked like we'd have to fly around the airport a bit and waste some more time. Our fairly generous layover was starting to look shorter and shorter - after we landed, we sat around for at least an hour before we got a gate, and by that time we would have missed our connecting flight had we not been pretty sure that was delayed in getting off the ground as well.

About forty of us ran through the terminal (a thing I hate doing, running through airport terminals) to get to the Mumbai flight. We talked to one girl while going through security (yes, again) with our hand luggage. She was going to India for her own wedding, which was to be one week later. The screener tried to give her a hard time about all the candles that were in her carryon, but she shut him down nicely with fierce stress-induced aggression. She herself was from Long Island, but was marrying an Indian dude; she had her mother in tow as well. Anyway, we did all make it onto the flight, which was also delayed by three hours.

Somehow I wasn't surprised when we landed in Mumbai and our luggage was nowhere to be found. Wait, hold on, back up.

Landing in Mumbai International airport is confusing because depending on which side of the plane you're on, you can't quite get a sense of what kind of city you're at. You can see some tall buildings and some air pollution, so you know there's a city there, but you also see the slapped-together shacks of the slums coming right smack up to the airport, practically spilling onto the runways. It looks like an undulating sea of corrugated metal.

The plane landed and we had the novelty pleasure of getting off onto one of those rolling stairway things. Entering the terminal, things are a little dusty and there are all these random potted plants along the hallway to the baggage claim - the plants look a little confused. "Why are we here?" they are asking.

Now, as I was saying, our baggage was nowhere, but at least it seemed that all the people from our Newark flight were in the same boat. We waiting in a chaotic "queue" of frustrated travellers, and bit by bit we became aware of little things like the fact that people were smoking. Inside. In the line. Actually, those were the Germans, but still - it's the little things that strike you as different when you first get somewhere.

For the sake of getting anywhere, I can't tell this story in real time, but if I could, we'd be at the lost luggage counter for quite a while. We eventually got our pink slips with some kind of vague instructions to call British Airways if we don't hear from them soon. We were told that our luggage would be brought to us in Pune as soon as it came in. The people telling us this did not look overly concerned with the veracity of this claim. We shrugged and went through customs, then out into the midday chaos. I saw a million faces, lots of taxis, and a goat...


Blogger Megan opined...

You use the rolling stairway to de-plane at Burbank Airport. I love it every single time, and wave to my constituents in a grand and distinguished manner.

12:31 PM  

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