Saturday Mar 29, 2008

Life and times ...

I realize its been ages since i last posted anything here ... i did travel a bit ... some interesting trips to Wayanad (yes, again! with the super team that i'm part of), Chennai (to attend to a good friend's wedding) and Singapore (generally on a sudden trip!) ... hopefully i can now keep adding more content here in the days ahead.

For this post, i thought i'd write a few words about an interesting experience I had while coming back from Singapore. So, here goes ... Would you ever have imagined that a single stray dog can bring an entire airport to its knees, preventing all international and domestic flights from either landing or taking off ... the airport was virtually closed for couple of hours and incoming flights were diverted to another city ! Well, i'd never have thought such a thing could happen until i had the luck to be part of this event. Here're the details ...

I was aboard a Singapore Airlines flight traveling from Singapore to Bangalore. The flight was due to land in Bangalore Airport at ~ 9:30 - 9:45 PM. Just as we were hovering above the city, the pilot announced that our flight was being diverted to another city (Chennai) due to some problem at the Bangalore Airport. We did not then have much other information on happenings. After having landed in Chennai airport all we could do was stay in the plane and were not allowed to come out of it. Again, i did'nt have much to complain about, as a matter of fact i'm glad i got to go through this experience. I got to know the cabin crew much better, very nice folks working extremely hard to make sure the needs of the passengers were met. Since the plane wasn't too full, many of the passengers chose to occupy multiple adjacent seats and lie down for a nap. Also, none knew when we would reach Bangalore - so sleep seemed to be a good option with nothing much else possible. To me, sleep did'nt seem like the best thing to do especially when I was in such an interesting situation. As the saying goes ... When life gives you lemons ... make lemonade !

Decided to stroll around the plane and doing so, got to sit & chat with some of the cabin crew. We talked about the nature of their work, Indian and Singaporean cultures, etc. and shared some soft drinks and small eats. We were soon joined by a few other interesting passengers. Before we realized it, all of us were talking like old friends, joking, laughing (in the process waking up a few passengers who did'nt seem too amused with the boisterous proceedings) and generally having a great time ! After what seemed like a short while, the captain announced that the Bangalore airport was now open and we would be leaving to Bangalore. I did a quick time check .. it was 2 AM on a bright beautiful new day ... we'd spent nearly four hours on the plane at the Chennai airport ... having a nice time !

We returned to the now crowded Bangalore airport and after landing we had to wait a while to disembark. Finally, got out of the airport by ~ 4 AM. Looking back, it really seemed like a nice ending to a good trip. During that short stop at Chennai, made friends with an industrialist from Indonesia with a good knack for communicating & connecting with people, a friendly and cheerful Equity Researcher from HSBC and an IT professional from Infosys who along with his wife were returning from Hong Kong via Singapore. On hind sight I would'nt have minded a little more delay in returning to Bangalore, especially if I could meet with and connect with a few more such wonderful people !

Oh ! lest I forget, the reason for the delays at the Bangalore airport was - apparently a domestic flight hit a stray dog that wandered onto the run way just when the plane was about to take off.  This resulted in the plane's landing gear getting damaged and the entire airport had to be closed for domestic and international operations until the runway was cleared. Whoever said that every dog has its day, was right. This one's had its day and what a day its been !

Anyways, that to me was an interesting experience, but not an isolated one though ... i've been through similar interesting experiences. The last time i had a similar kind of an experience was during January this year, when I & my colleague Kalyan landed at London's Heathrow airport. At that time a British Airways plane crash landed just minutes before our flight reached there. Fortunately for us, this did not affect our onward journey out of London. We did however hear a lot about it on the news & from fellow passengers.

Anyways, looking forward to more interesting experiences in the days ahead !

Signing off this post with a quote by Alexander Woollcott, "There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day."

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Sunday Dec 23, 2007

nothing special ...

Its been quite a while since i've posted anything ... hold on, i'm trying to think of an excuse ... lemme see ... aha! the oft repeated phrase ... frankly i've been busy lately ... thought i'd simply post a quick update on my recent activities and so here's an update on a recent short trip to Chennai ....

So, whats special about this trip ? Absolutely nothing and thats probably of interest ... i'd say its time we rejoiced in the ordinary rather than wait for something extra-ordinary to happen.

Chennai is at a distance of about 360+ kilometers from Bangalore. Boarded a train (Sanghamitra Express) that goes to Patna via Chennai, from the Bangalore City Railway Station at 9AM last Thursday. The coach was'nt too full, which is a good thing. I like the idea of traveling during the day and having a window seat is a bonus ! Was wondering who my fellow passengers would be ... my wait ended shortly when an elderly husband-wife duo perched on the seat opposite mine. They seemed like nice folks and there were just two instances when they communicated with me - the first instance was a request from the lady asking to borrow my copy of the day's newspaper for her to solve the daily cross-word puzzle and the second instance was actually a high-pitched squeal directed at me ... i'll explain the squeal bit shortly.

Its been ages since i've traveled by train and i must admit its truly a fine experience ... there's always something interesting happening if you keep looking around ... anyways, there was a steady stream of vendors traversing the length and breadth of the coach selling bottled water, breakfast, soup, beverages, snacks and hawking their wares pretty loudly. Close to lunch time, a railway attendant arrived to take our meal order. Lunch was delivered at about 1 PM. Just as i was about to dutifully complete my task of polishing off the contents of the lunch tray ... the lady sitting opposite my seat let out that high-pitched squeal which i alluded to earlier in this post. Although taken by surprise, i retained my grip on the spoon and looked up at the source of the noise only to see her looking at me and pointing a finger ... apparently trying to communicate something. And, she did look a wee bit uncomfortable as she gestured towards the side of my right hand.  Looking to my right i noticed  that  we had another fellow passenger (probably hungry too) ... it was a fairly cute looking rat ! I soon realized that the ticklish feeling that i felt couple of times earlier on was probably this rodent trying to grab my attention and share some of the food with it. Anyways, the rat soon realized that it was the center of all the attention and probably being a tad too introverted, it scampered out of sight ... leaving behind some not very comfortable passengers  ... this was one of the times i missed all those cats of mine ...

The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful and we reached Chennai at about 3:30 PM.  Took one of the famed Auto-rickshaws of Chennai to my destination (needless to state the obvious - we had a short haggling session to decide the fare). Anyway, this was a short trip and my plan was to leave to Bangalore the same day after finishing some personal work at Chennai. I returned back to the Chennai central railway station by about 6:30 PM. Before entering the railway station, took a leisurely walk on the streets outside and gorged on some very tasty street food. As darkness set in, slowly trudged back to the railway station and looked for the return train to Bangalore. The train was due at 9:30 PM and i had close to three hours to spend in the railway station, which seems like eternity when there's not much to keep you occupied. The station is truly a sprawling place teeming with humanity ... its so easy to get lost in the crowd here and after walking around for a while, in a slightly less crowded area, found an interesting place to sit, where i could spend some time quietly observing the crowds & activities at the station ... the seat was a large unused railway trolley which is generally used to ferry luggage ... hey there's a  bit of the kid within ! After about half-hour of watching people watch me, I wanted some solitude and paradoxical as it may sound, sometimes the best way to get alone is to be part of the crowd. So, went ahead and joined the milling crowds; walked past various platforms and watched trains from different parts of the country arrive and depart ... and finally the time came when the Mysore Express (thats my train to Bangalore) chugged into the platform and before i knew it, a whole sea of humanity converged on the train and even before the train stopped there were hordes of people scrambling to get in. Thankfully i had reserved my seat and could take it a little easier.

The train left on time and all that was left to do was to catch some shut eye. My fellow passengers were again an elderly couple (don't ask me why !) .. who after a while, woke me up from my beauty sleep to ask me my seat number ... apparently they seemed a little confused about their seat numbers and soon figured that they were in the wrong seat numbers. They soon left and suddenly i had the entire area to myself ... just as i drifted back to sleep, an entire family with tonnes of luggage packed in innumerable boxes of all shapes and sizes, landed next to me and occupied every inch of free space. Their banter made it hard to get back to sleep. After an hour or so, they seemed to have gotten tired with their vocal exercises and settled down to take a nap which afforded me another chance to sleep. This time i was terribly tired and simply slept like a log until about 4 AM in the morning whence a couple of excited little girls ran down the aisle shouting that their station had arrived. I realized that in the next half hour we would be reaching the Bangalore City station. As the train chugged into the City railway station in the wee hours of dawn, it felt good to be back after a pretty interesting trip. That, was a short quick update from my side.

Happiness is a journey not a destination, work like you don't need money, love like you never been hurt, and dance like no ones looking ...

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John Morrison


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