I FLEW BACK from the really very wonderful international airport at Bengaluru this morning, just as the rays of dawn were illuminating Karnataka. The weather in Bangalore is great right now – the temperature is about 25° Celsius, the rains have almost stopped, and the dragonflies and butterflies are having a field day, following Diwali. The trees are flowering, the black bees (madhukara) are flying. The many mosquitoes are not as attractive for some odd reason.
The ever present Meru Cars was my vahan of choice, swiftly speeding me towards BIAL and hence with a short hop, skip and a jump to London Heathrow.
There isn’t and hasn’t been much news about the UK in India over the last month – unless it’s to do with the weird ball game called cricket, an ever present obsession in India.
The immigration officers and security guards at BIAL are unfailingly courteous and friendly. I have said for the last few years to anyone who cares to be bored, that Indian security at airports is second to none, worldwide. Because of previous outrages, the airports check, re-check and check everything again, without ever being over officious. The security guard’s wand detected the titanium plate in my right leg – there since 1981 – which led to a very interesting conversation about two wheelers in Bengaluru and elsewhere. The man said: “So you don’t drive motorbikes any more? You just fly planes?” I am no pilot.
Strangely, I am missing the mosquitoes. Bengaluru and most of Karnataka is not a malarial zone, and the streets are swept every morning. It’s a wonderful place. I heartily recommend it for people of a certain age, that is to say younger than I am. And I missed Guy Fawkes night in Ole London town! And the 4th of November night in Yorkshire is called Mischievous Night. Missed that too. Sheer Bliss. ♣
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Tagged BIAL, butterflies, Deepavali, Diwali, dragonflies, Guido Fawkes, gunpowder treason and plot, Guy Fawkes, Karnataka, London Heathrow, Meru Cars, mosquitoes, titanium
LAST TIME I rode in a Meru cab from Ole Bengaluru to BIAL airport, I had an uncanny experience. Caught short in the middle of the ride, I asked driverji to stop at the side of the road so I could make a call of nature.
Driverji obligingly let me off at the side of a road, outside a village, where I made my oblations and went back to the car. Just as I was getting in, five or six stray dogs started running towards me, barking furiously. I closed the door, and as the car drew off, the dogs banged into the side of the door. And kept banging.
There’s also a large pack of dogs which runs up and down the concourse at BIAL, in search of goodness knows what, and much to the bemusement of recently arrived international travellers. And the Louis Vuitton sculpture at BIAL has totally disappeared. What gives with that? ♥
FLEW OUT yesterday to Bengalaru and I was a Terminal Five virgin, because BA has finally switched practically all of its frights to the new big place at Heathrow.
I was lucky enough to be in one of the lounges and they’re certainly massive enough – you have clear views of what look like carefully cultivated acres of dull grey stones, and above you are girders, girders and more girders.
But there’s something about the place that makes you feel like you’re in a Jean-Paul Satre novel – I felt either half alive or half dead, and most of the other passengers looked that way too. And most of the staff for that matter. There’s something very very soulless about T5.
That feeling is even more pronounced in the vast shopping mall that is T5. Endless rows of glossy shops less than half full, and such a feeling of space above that you’re reduced to what you are – an insignificant little bit of data being shoved at vast expense into silvery tubes and shipped out to points on the moral compass.
And so after nine hours or so, we arrived at BIAL – you’ll recall that we were one of the first to fly out from the new Bangalore airport. Lobbed in at 4AM in the morning, we found immigration and everything else to be painless – despite large queues of people, we were all “processed” politely and swiftly so before a twitch of a lamb’s tail, we were facing the Louis Vuitton sculpture once again.
And at 4:45AM, the drive into Indiranagar from the BIAL airport was hitch free and swift – we made it back to the Centre of Laundry Excellence in only an hour and five minutes. ♣
I FLEW BACK from Bangalore’s new BIAL airport yesterday – but set off at Indiranagar at 1AM to catch a 6:45 fright.
While by day, Bangalore’s roads are a living nightmare, at 1AM in the morning they’re clear and I reached the airport in one hour and 15 minutes. Despite reports in the local press, the road to BIAL is pretty good, and the airport is a vast improvement on HAL.
Not everything is quite finished. The shops are half empty – the boys told me that the alcohol for the duty free area had yet to clear customs. Books don’t need to clear customs – the bookshop had hardly anything in it.
There’s a shortage of tags for hand baggage, so a queue formed of people who had almost got through security to be sent back and wait for the authorities to, presumably, print some more.
You can’t get through emigration without having a script called the user development fee which costs Rs 1,070 – you’re exempt if you’re under two years old. This has been “approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India”. And a leaflet says: “If you are paying by cash you are requested to provide exact change.” The taxi fare to the airport was over Rs 1,000 – to the old HAL airport it would have been about Rs 200.
In the small international area there’s a bar – we did fancy a beer believe it or not. Heck, yesterday was a “dry day”. What’s this in the bottom picture? Yeah, it’s a piece of “designer sculpture” set to bemuse on and all, and a stone’s throw from a Subway. Heck. The wonder that is India. ♣