Saturday, November 05, 2011

Carnatic Guitar - vandE mAtaram


Just a freestyle experiment.. not played to rhythm... bear with me.. Comments welcome..

Thursday, August 23, 2007

""The rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage" -Mark Russel

Thanks to Air India and many other things, I left for the air port in Chennai on Sunday sometime late in the evening and arrived in Ann Arbor (yeah...not the moon or some such place) after a good two and a half days.

When it rain, it pours :-|
I reached the international terminal in madras a good 2 hours before my flight and hurried to the check in counter just to find that they had not begun checking baggage in, for no particular reason. They started the check-in process at about 2:10 for the 3:45 flight despite being grossly understaffed (just 3 people to check some 300 x N baggages in). after checking in, I had some 20 minutes to clear immigration and security check. Once I did all that, it was some relief to find out that the flight was leaving 30 minutes late (for no reason apart from the fact that the checkin process took long). What I did not realise then was that, that was well and truly just the tip of the iceberg (enjoy that metaphor, like Coulbert says, for your grandchildren will have no idea what an iceberg is :( )

We arrived in Mumbai (45 minutes past schedule) and hurried to the new gate. The AI personnel in Mumbai had the audacity to tell us that the international flight to London decided to leave before the connecting flight from chennai arrived :-| This was by far the most unacceptable thing that anyone had told me in recent times... 45 minutes was certainly small by AI standards and moreover irrespective of all that it made absolutely no sense to fly the internation thing since the connecting flight was meant to almost exclusively serve that particular international flight and was also operated by AI :-|. The lady at the counter said. "You can take AI 125 tomorrow sir, we'll be taking you to a hotel shortly". I was like "What the duck ?! x-( ". Desperate attempts to try and get them to buy me a flight on the same day on whatever airlines did not work :(. I told them that I have an important business meeting in the morning and girlfriend's birthday in the evening that I absolutely had to go to and the lady was like "I totally understand how you are feeling, but you can go tomorrow" x-(. That wasn't even the most annoying part in Mumbai. Since I had cleared immigration in chennai and left India on paper, I was not supposed to roam around in Bombay :-|. So my passport for seized and I was escorted to and from the hotel and the airport, just that handcuffs were not invoked :-|. Then I spent the whole day in my claustrophobic room and then was given my passport once I reached the airport on the next day. Since I was delayed by a day, AI also booked a new connecting flight from Chicago to Ann Arbor that I would take one I arrive in chicago and gave me a PNR number and told me that it was a confirmed researvation.

I must add rare events here. The trip from Mumbai to London and London to chicago were largely eventless !!!!!

In chicago, I cleared immigration peacefully and even my baggage arrived (albeit after a delay of about a couple of hours). It was 5 pm on Tuesday by then :(. My connecting flight was supposed to be at 7:30, so I hurried through customs and did all sorts of desi stuff to break the queue and reach the head of the United Airlines counter (on which I had this 'confirmed reservation'). The UA guy somehow found out that there were absolutely no researvations in my name and their PNR numbers dont even look like the one AI had provided me with :-|. I was like "Try this name, try that name etc.." till the guy finally gave up and said "I am sorry sir, but I dont think I can help you, you have absolutely nothing for me to spend more time on you" :-|. Then I went to the AI counter nearby and they told me that that counter doesnt handle transit stuff x-(. I had to go to another terminal to reach the Air India counter (which unfathomably was there in a US domestic terminal). O'Hare being the largest airport in the world, it took me a good one hour of slow road transit to the other terminal. Finally after having reached the AI counter which had the female with a mandarin_max accent. That wasnt as much of a problem to me, since Indians can understand most accents, but the female had no inkling on what I was trying to say x-(. I gave up on trying to explain the 'confirmed researvation on UA' part and was decided to communicate just the fact that I had to go to Ann Arbor and it was her responsiblity. Finally some respite after the communication was successful but then there were no fllights with room for one person :-|. She finally booked me on a Northwest carrier at 2 am to Detroit and that ducking thing was on another terminal. The luggage was checked in, with the appropriate(?) rerouting info and this time, I took the train (dont know why it did not work in the international terminal) and hence it took me only 5 mins this time.

I arrived at the gate and the Northwest guy gave a boarding pass with an 'ssss' written in bold big font on it x-(. (For the uninitiated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_Security_Screening_Selection). The idiot did not understand when I explained that the reservation was made in the last minute because it was a ducking reroute and that it was made by Air India ground staff in Chicago :-| and went on and on about how the 'system' 'always' does that x-(. So I had to go through additional pain_max security. They did everything they could do short of stripping me naked.( example, my wallet was emptied and inspected, my tooth paste which was less than 3 ounce in mass was thrown away, a keychain was thrown away after the keys were removed and given to me). I finally arrived at the gate and found that I had about 6 hours to go. I called up chennai and then went to sleep, assuming that there was nothing else to possibly go wrong and that now I just need to go home.

I reached detroit at about 4 and tried to call up my shuttle to Ann Arbor. But none of the shuttles operated till 5 am. So I thought I'll pick up my luggage and then try my luck again. I was waiting at the carousel just to find that after about 30 minutes, everybody else having gone away, the belt stopped moving :-|. That was it.. I went to the baggage counter and filed a claim and reached home in Ann Arbor at around 6 with just my hand luggage :-|.

The luggage tracking was kinda funny :-| x-( =))
They had given me a file reference number which I could use when I call up and find the baggage status. When I called at 9 am, I was told that it was in Montreal =)). I was like.. "What the.. ".. by 10 am, it had reached Houston.. phew that was quick. So I decided to randomly keep calling more frequently, since a miracle had just happened and lo, by 10:30 it was in an I_dont_remember_what_place in Florida. :-|
I had by then given up on the system, which was supposed to recognise my voice when I utter my file number and last four digits of my phone number. I tried my luck online, assuming that Northwest Airlines was sophisticated enough to have some system online too :-|. They sure did, but the system told me that no claim was filed on that number with lastname:BHARADWAJ. Now it was time to try out random permutations and alternatives like BHARADWA, BHARDWAJ, HARI, BHARDAWAJ etc. :-| I then remembered that the lady who registered my pronouned it something like "bhaaradwaay", some latin/german kinda thing. So I randomly tried BHARADWAY ======)))))))) and the woreshtu part was that it worked :O :O :O :O. However it now stands that they have absolutely no further information on my luggage after I filed the claim :-|

One trippy_max part was that there was this guy in chicago, desi guy who had come in the same flight as I did (he was supposed to come on that.. unlike me), who had dropped his passport somewhere in the plane :-| I was trying to console him saying that if he informed the aircrew soon they would probably find it. They guy seemed to be unmoved by the incident and was complaining to me that he would not be able to booze or visit strip clubs if he didnt have his passport, since he did not have any other govenment ID :-|

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Couple of lasts ..............


Our last fart session as guru.. this time as alumni of IITM :)

A pic to remember our last music session at IITM.. Audi on violin.. me on guitar.. SK on vocals and behind the cam.. James *vetti* Bhaand looks on :)