Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nine A.M. phone calls and taxi driver handshakes

Mumbai Ten thirty in the morning. Nine pm yesterday back home. Mind and body someplace in between.

The plane ride from Seattle to Paris was a dream. Little child behind me didn't bang the seat too much. Lots of legroom at a small extra cost. The food was what you would expect, not what you would hope for. I mean it was Thanksgiving, you'd have thought that maybe they would have turkey as the poultry offering Alas not, it was chicken in goop over white stuff. It tasted like all the other airplane chicken in mystery sauce over white stuff I've ever had before

It's kind of funny how if you do something nice for someone they feel that they must do something nice back to you. I gave Starbucks cards to the cabin crew. After that it was all, “Anything I can do for you?”, can I get you another something ? I tried to explain that I wasn't looking for anything else, though to be honest if they offered a First Class upgrade, I might have reluctantly accepted it. I thought they had accepted it when they gave me a thank you card signed by the crew and then at landing in Paris one of the crew came over and handed me a full bottle of wine. I was thrilled with the note, for chrissy sakes. I told her that I was going to go through Paris' TSA and they would take it away from me because of the No Liquids policy. She wasn't taking that for an excuse until he third time finally accepting that I might be right and offered it to my seat mate, who was disembarking in Paris. He and his wife were in Paris for a romantic getaway and really appreciated it.

After a short train ride to another part of the airport and a ride back on the same train to the place I started from and the theater that is airport security I found my way to the correct gate for the next leg of my trip. A eight and a half hour tip from Paris to Mumbai. They didn't have any of those extra legroom at extra cost seats on his flight. Just the normal seating for normal midgets. The little plane that flys from Seattle to Bellingham, a 30 minute flight has more legroom than Air France's Airbus 330 configuration. This was uncomfortable enough and then the woman in from reclined to the set's full setting, crashing my knees into the seat pocket and making the television screen so close in front of me that I could actually stretch out my hand, touch my nose with my thumb and my little finger touch the screen. Yes, I measured it. The man next to me had a most unusual odor. I don’t know if it was a bad odor, but it was something that I didn't find olfactorily pleasing. Eventually this scented contortion-ism came to an end and Mumbai lay just a 20 minute walk to Immigration and then another 10 minute stroll to baggage claim.

The plane arrived an hour later than scheduled, Immigration took longer than I wanted. For some reason the new fangled digital fingerprint scanners absolutely hate me. This wouldn't be a bad thing if I was a cat burglar or safe cracker, but just someone who wants to get past the bureaucrat to a bed made for a long time. Eventually the machine got a decent enough reading and I was allowed to enter the heat and chaos that is India at three am.

A quick x-ray of my luggage and Welcome to Mumbai.

I am not real happy with my accommodations. Oh, the room is nice. Exactly what you would expect for a hotel in the over a hundred dollars a night range in a major Asian city. But for some reason Mr. Hilton thought that Paris Hilton needed a new dog or something, and I should help the poor thing get her required support animal, and if I wasn't ready to do that it was time for me to move on.

The hotel had emailed me that for a mere $15 they would pick me up at the airport. The prepaid taxi was $4. It honestly took longer to exit the airport property than to drive to the hotel. At check in I was asked if I wanted to extend my stay and I said yes. Somehow the price jumped from about from $100 to over $200 a night. Hey, it's a nice place, but I could stay at the Taj, in downtown Mumbai with a view of the ocean for that price and it is a world renowned hotel, not some airport chain. I told her she needed psychiatric help and went to the room.

Got into bed all wired from the trip and popped a Valium and crashed into the downy softness of my pillow. I woke up at home and confused why there was light coming from that part of my bedroom, before I realized that I wasn't at home. The clock said it was 8:30. So I got close to 5 hours of sleep which wasn't too bad. I would have liked another REM cycle and awoke at ten, but it was what it was. A cup of Starbucks best instant and I was ready to face the day, almost. That was until 9 am when the phone rang. It was Ms. Reception wondering what time I would be checking out. WTF ?!? Can you be serious ? I can't think of a single hotel from a one star cold water hotel in Ethiopia to a five plus star hotel in Bangkok that has ever done that. Pretty low rent on high rent if you ask me.

Anyway finished a couple pieces of bread and coffee and now time to go find another abode.


After checking out I caught a taxi to my new hotel. Half the price, twice as manic. Once you are out of the public areas it settles down nicely. The room is nice, but is showing it's age a bit. It is one of those hotels that changed hands recently so none of the taxi drivers know the name, if you give the old name and 'Bob's your Uncle.” (Maybe I shouldn't use that phrase here, since it refers to General named Robert or Roberts who was to the Indians what Custer was to the other Indians, except Bob didn't get killed)

I wanted to see the India Gate, Mumbai's iconic landmark. The desk man said it was too far to walk, but he did give me a map and pointed “That-away pardner” I set out and immediately made a right when I should have made a left, ended up in an Army base. Did my best About Face ! And made another right when I should have kept straight. A friendly taxi driver showed me the error of my ways as he drove me there.

It was underwhelming. Maybe with better light, maybe with less police presence, maybe with fewer
Mumbai Ten thirty in the morning. Nine pm yesterday back home. Mind and body someplace in between.

The plane ride from Seattle to Paris was a dream. Little child behind me didn't bang the seat too much. Lots of legroom at a small extra cost. The food was what you would expect, not what you would hope for. I mean it was Thanksgiving, you'd have thought that maybe they would have turkey as the poultry offering Alas not, it was chicken in goop over white stuff. It tasted like all the other airplane chicken in mystery sauce over white stuff I've ever had before

It's kind of funny how if you do something nice for someone they feel that they must do something nice back to you. I gave Starbucks cards to the cabin crew. After that it was all, “Anything I can do for you?”, can I get you another something ? I tried to explain that I wasn't looking for anything else, though to be honest if they offered a First Class upgrade, I might have reluctantly accepted it. I thought they had accepted it when they gave me a thank you card signed by the crew and then at landing in Paris one of the crew came over and handed me a full bottle of wine. I was thrilled with the note, for chrissy sakes. I told her that I was going to go through Paris' TSA and they would take it away from me because of the No Liquids policy. She wasn't taking that for an excuse until he third time finally accepting that I might be right and offered it to my seat mate, who was disembarking in Paris. He and his wife were in Paris for a romantic getaway and really appreciated it.

After a short train ride to another part of the airport and a ride back on the same train to the place I started from and the theater that is airport security I found my way to the correct gate fr the next leg of my trip. A eight and a half hour tip from Paris to Mumbai. They didn't have any of those extra legroom at extra cost seats on his flight. Just the normal seating for normal midgets. The little plane that flys from Seattle to Bellingham, a 30 minute flight has more legroom than Air France's Airbus 330 configuration. This was uncomfortable enough and then the woman in from reclined to the set's full setting, crashing my knees into the seat pocket and making the television screen so close in front of me that I could actually stretch out my hand, touch my nose with my thumb and my little finger touch the screen. Yes, I measured it. The man next to me had a most unusual odor. I don’t know if it was a bad odor, but it was something that I didn't find olfactorily pleasing. Eventually this scented contortion-ism came to an end and Mumbai lay just a 20 minute walk to Immigration and then another 10 minute stroll to baggage claim.

The plane arrived an hour later than scheduled, Immigration took longer than I wanted. For some reason the new fangled digital fingerprint scanners absolutely hate me. This wouldn't be a bad thing if I was a cat burglar or safe cracker, but just someone who wants to get past the bureaucrat to a bed made for a long time. Eventually the machine got a decent enough reading and I was allowed to enter the heat and chaos that is India at three am.

A quick x-ray of my luggage and Welcome to Mumbai.

I am not real happy with my accommodations. Oh, the room is nice. Exactly what you would expect for a hotel in the over a hundred dollars a night range in a major Asian city. But for some reason Mr. Hilton thought that Paris Hilton needed a new dog or something, and I should help the poor thing get her required support animal, and if I wasn't ready to do that it was time for me to move on.

The hotel had emailed me that for a mere $15 they would pick me up at the airport. The prepaid taxi was $4. It honestly took longer to exit the airport property than to drive to the hotel. At check in I was asked if I wanted to extend my stay and I said yes. Somehow the price jumped from about from $100 to over $200 a night. Hey, it's a nice place, but I could stay at the Taj, in downtown Mumbai with a view of the ocean for that price and it is a world renowned hotel, not some airport chain. I told her she needed psychiatric help and went to the room.
Got into bed all wired from the trip and popped a Valium and crashed into the downy softness of my pillow. I woke up at home and confused why there was light coming from that part of my bedroom, before I realized that I wasn't at home. The clock said it was 8:30. So I got close to 5 hours of sleep which wasn't too bad. I would have liked another REM cycle and awoke at ten, but it was what it was. A cup of Starbucks best instant and I was ready to face the day, almost. That was until 9 am when the phone rang. It was Ms. Reception wondering what time I would be checking out. WTF ?!? Can you be serious ? I can't think of a single hotel from a one star cold water hotel in Ethiopia to a five plus star hotel in Bangkok that has ever done that. Pretty low rent on high rent if you ask me.

Anyway finished a couple pieces of bread and coffee and now time to go find another abode.


After checking out I caught a taxi to my new hotel. Half the price, twice as manic. Once you are out of the public areas it settles down nicely. The room is nice, but is showing it's age a bit. It is one of those hotels that changed hands recently so none of the taxi drivers know the name, if you give the old name and 'Bob's your Uncle.” (Maybe I shouldn't use that phrase here, since it refers to General named Robert or Roberts who was to the Indians what Custer was to the other Indians, except Bob didn't get killed)

I wanted to see the India Gate, Mumbai's iconic landmark. The desk man said it was too far to walk, but he did give me a map and pointed “That-away pardner” I set out and immediately made a right when I should have made a left, ended up in an Army base. Did my best About Face ! And made another right when I should have kept straight. A friendly taxi driver showed me the error of my ways as he drove me there.

It was underwhelming. Maybe with better light, maybe with less police presence, maybe with fewer people (though I believe that is an impossibility) it would have been worth the look. As it was, it was cheek to jowl with people in their Saturday best The main area was blocked off so it was a ¾ stroll around the edifice and back again. I think the picture I want, the image is one from a boat or point of land at sunset. Up close it is just too big.

I walked around the area for a bit. Fended off the postcard sellers, the balloon vendors. Walked by the Pashmina salesmen, had a hard time shaking the milk scam man and baby, and demurred to the orphanage, with color pictures, solicitors.

Eventually my water bottle was empty, jet lag was tickling my heat exhaustion, so I caught another taxi back to the hotel. The price he asked was outrageous, and we settled on just one that overcharged me. When we got to the hotel I gave him the agreed upon fee and he asked for a dollar. I told him that he had charged me three times the going rate and didn’t think I wanted to add a dollar to that. He got the biggest grin, held out his hand and shook mine. Guess it was acknowledgment that I knew I was an Anglo mark and accepted my place in the Indian taxi hierarchy.

Back at the hotel, it is almost 4 pm, and I am starting to fade. Gotta power through the next couple hours before bed. Maybe a caffeine jolt from a Coke will do it.
people (though I believe that is an impossibility) it would have been worth the look. As it was, it was cheek to jowl with people in their Saturday best The main area was blocked off so it was a ¾ stroll around the edifice and back again. I think the picture I want, the image is one from a boat or point of land at sunset. Up close it is just too big.

I walked around the area for a bit. Fended off the postcard sellers, the balloon vendors. Walked by the Pashmina salesmen, had a hard time shaking the milk scam man and baby, and demurred to the orphanage, with color pictures, solicitors.

Eventually my water bottle was empty, jet lag was tickling my heat exhaustion, so I caught another taxi back to the hotel. The price he asked was outrageous, and we settled on just one that overcharged me. When we got to the hotel I gave him the agreed upon fee and he asked for a dollar. I told him that he had charged me three times the going rate and didn’t think I wanted to add a dollar to that. He got the biggest grin, held out his hand and shook mine. Guess it was acknowledgment that I knew I was an Anglo mark and accepted my place in the Indian taxi hierarchy.

Back at the hotel, it is almost 4 pm, and I am starting to fade. Gotta power through the next couple hours before bed. Maybe a caffeine jolt from a Coke will do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment