The Joys of the Journey…In the Jet Age

Now that we are safe and sound (not to mention snug) in San Francisco, the travel tale can be told. 

 It is all very well to say “the destination is not important, the journey is”. The fact is that the destination decides the journey and when the destaination is US of A, the journey necessarily becomes long and tiring. Long and tiring, no dobt,

At the Mumbai Airport

but interesting no less…

We started for the airport well in time (no surprises, there) and were there at Mumbai International airport by 8.30 pm for our 1.00 a.m flight. As Daddy had requested wheel chair service, we recived express clearnce everywhere, cut through lines at all places and were ready to board by 10.00pm. (BTW, our flight was scheduled for 1.00a.m, if you recall).

It happens only in India

Filling in the Immigration form

Though Daddy had requested wheel chair service, all of us (additional 5 people) were included in that!. Actually, the airport was very crowded. There were scores of people going everywhere.

Moving on

Guess it is the holiday season and more and more Indians are travelling. There was a flight to Bangkok and Singapore just before us (typical holiday destinations). And because of the wheelchair, we could make it through immigration, security clearance etc very quickly.

Of course, as we are not travelling back with Daddy, it will be interesting to see how we stand in lines while coming back!

Waiting to go to Hongkong

…..And We are Off

Finally, we stumbled into the plane and promptly went off to sleep. Of course difficult and uncomfortable  to sleep sitting. But we managed it. Landed in Honkkong at about 9.00 am local time. Again, long live the wheelchair. From where we landed, we had to take the Metrotrain (!!) to the terminal from where we were to depart. The train was so fast. Wondering whether it is a cousin of the famed Japanese Bullet train. And also wondering if apna Mumbai Metro can be as fast!!

Waiting to board

Hi Hongkong

All that we saw of Hongkong was the airport and that was quite impressive. There were so many (7 I think) walkators thorughout the length of the area where we were. And it took roughly 20 minutes going from one end to the other.

In the Hongkong Metro

We know it because we did it. We went to the Foodcourt. As in Mumbai, the MacDonalds outlet was very crowded.

Hi Hongkong

But we avoided buying things there because “vegetarian Chinese  food” is an oxymoron (does not exist).

 

 

“Spotting the Differences” at Hongkong

And We are Off…..Again

And we got ready for flying again (12 hours, no less). I kept wondering how time would pass. But time has a way of passing whether you like it or not. And we finally we reached San Francisco. The in-flight food was OK.

Tip 1: Don’t expect too much in terms of service and taste and you won’t be disappointed.

Tip2: Don’t take too many activities (fun things) to do for kids on board. They get bored soon and get restless anyway. And the weight you would have lugged would be all or nothing.

Tip 3: Cathay Pacific———No comments (which should reveal all, if u know what i mean)

In future, it may be a good idea to carry foodstuff for plane journey as we would for a train journey.

On second thoughts

It is easy to criticize, but when you think of advacnces in techology that has made it possible to be in a place thousands of miles away in a matter of hours, it does seem unfair to nitpick.  Life after all is a combination of these various experiences, some good, some not so good and some clearly bad and some essenially unforgeattable. While the Cathay Pacific experiecne may not be unforgettable, it definiely was not so bad…..Life goes on…as they say and so does the plane.

“A gaint metal box hurtling through the sky at a high speed” is how someone described  a plane once. And as you sit in the box, you cannot even feel the speed!.

And when the kids slept, I watched TV for 3-4 hours straight. Something I have not done in a long long time.

One of the movie options for the in-flight entertainment program was ‘The Dirty Picture’ and every 2nd or 3rd Indian passenger was watching that. So when people say Vidhya Balan is high up in the air, they mean it quite literally.

Boys are ‘Pushy’

Pushy Abhinav

What is it about boys and trolleys? Abhinav is so keen on pushing trolleys. He (and Kaamya to a certain extent) were so ‘pushy’, both at Mumbai airport and at Hongkong. It is the same when we go to malls in Mumbai. We had a tough time keeping him from banging the trolley into others / hurting others. And the thing is he wants no help. He wants to push the trolley himself, which takes ages and he would most likley end up steering it in the wrong direction...And so are girld

And Finally we are home

After what seemed like enternity, we finally touched down at San Francisco airport.

It happens only in India – Proof…

Once we landed in San Francisco, Daddy decided to opt out of wheelchair service. And we all stood in the queue. But we observed that only the ‘wheelchairers’ and maximum one accompanying person recieved the expres treatment. In any case, we would have had to come through the line. The line was OK, moved fast and soon we made it out. Oh yeah, we were finger printed and retina scanned to establish identity.

The Touching Meeting

And then we met Mala Athai. In a role reversal of sorts, we were the visitors and she was the host.

Here we are

USA, we are ready to rock.

More, soon….

Tired at the end of the journey

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My Bags are all Packed…..

One of my favorite songs. I think it is “All my bags are packed, I am ready to go”… the title of the song is ‘leaving on a jet plane’. I don’t know who it is by, but will soon find out and post the link in this blog. It is at times like this that I wonder where we would all be without the ‘aashirwaad’ of Google over our heads.

This song incidentally featured in the Bruce Willis movie ‘Armaggadon’ (not sure of the spelling), where a bunch of guys went to drill a hole in space (or something like that). The reason the song is my favorite is because it is one of the few songs Anand knows and can sing. I always ask him to oblige at family gatherings, but he always refuses. Will try again at Kunju’s mehendi/marriage.

This song is apt right now because indeed  “all my bags are packed and I am ready to go”. It is 4.00 right now and waiting till 8.00 for the taxi is going 2 b difficult.

Yes. One can be over-organized and over well-prepared as we are. I am going crazy trying to figure out if i have missed packing anything and packing and repacking again and again just so I have something to do. Perhaps, it is best after all to leave things till the last minute. It is more exciting that way and things are ‘happening’ till the very end. But then again…..it is better this way I guess. Because in the former scenario, I would surely not had the time to write this post. So lucky you guys, I finished early and you can read these pearls of wisdom (hopefully).

Kids are super duper exited and have not slept a wink in the afternoon. Wonder how we are going to handle them at the airport. Our flight for Hongkong  (or Honkon, as Abhinav says) leaves at 1:05 a.m tomorrow. We will land up at the airport by 9:30-10:00pm tonite.  So you can well imagine the task of managing kids and adults as well, sleep deprived to the eyelids. Will be quite an experience and material for the next post.

And one more thing. We have one bag each and though we are allowed 20kg/bag, our bags on an average

weigh 10 kg. This is a strategic decision so that we can shop more. Currently requests for shopping are being taken. Anybody looking for anything specific from good old Uncle Sam, just ‘bring it on’.

Thanks mom, dad and Prabha for making yesterday so special and converting it into a pre-deparure party almost. Ramesh and Radha, you were missed. All eats from Trivandrum are lovely and also making the long and arduous journey to San Francisco, albeit without ticket and visa. In fact. my mother-in-law’s hand baggage is full of murukhu, chips, oreo, and so on…and to my credit, I have that digestive fibre biscuits (Prabha, the ones u gave) and diet chakli. The final bastion of sticking to a diet before drowning in the depths of delicious delicacies..all waste to the waist…

On that yummy note, it is goodbye for now. Hopefully things will go well. Next post mostly from San Farncisco, but u may receive an email from Honkon….

Goodbye. God Blesss

PS the song is by John Denver and can be downloaded/heard/lyrics seen at

http://www.elyrics.net/read/j/john-denver-lyrics/leaving-on-a-jet-plane-lyrics.html

Enjoy

Getting Ready….To Go

usa flag

usa flag (Photo credit: R.Duran)

The purpose of this blog is mainly to capture the wonderful experiences of our forthcoming US trip. Besides the fact that we will have photos, videos and memories within the heart, a little external copy always helps.

I have always wanted to maintain a record of my travels just like Huen Tsang any other historians. I have numerous of those German Remedies note pads, half used, religiously updated the first couple of days (if not the first couple of hours) but no more than that. The creation of this blog will hopefully serve the purpose better.

Now coming to the ‘title’ of this blog. I tried so many. “musings  memories’- cliched but apt and taken. Next was ‘high on life’- i was not the only one with that bright idea. Even the nondescript ‘we travel’ was not available. Finally settled on ‘how far how near’ because it sort of remotely is connected with travel and more importantly was available for free.

I have always felt travel is the best thing that can happen to you. The exposure, the education, the excitement, the energy and the exhaustion cannot come from elsewhere. Our world is beautiful The more we explore it , the more we live.

Here is to many many more explorations and so many more stories associated with them. This is for Abhinav and Kaamya to cherish when they grow up and to share with their own children.

Let us embark on the journey called life. How far or how near does not matter… it is the journey that counts…..

On that note…Bon Voyage to me…and us