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. ♣
IT NEVER RAINS but it pours in Ole Bengaluru – but it certainly is pouring right now. The mausam started yesterday and will continue off and on for three months or so.
And Bloody HAL! Ole HAL Bangalore airport shuts down on the 23rd, so our return fright to London will be from the new airport.
We talked to our hotel manager – you remember we are at the Centre of Laundry Excellence – and our flight is at 6:45 on Sunday from the new one. He says this is the schedule. I leave from Indiranagar at half past midnight to get to the airport about 3:30AM to make my fright.
It will cost quite a bit more than the Rs250 I paid from HAL to get there. I suppose I can sleep in the car. The traffic might be less heavy at that time in the morning. Let’s look on the bright side.
No wonder most Bangalore businessmen are choosing to drive to Chennai rather than drive three hours to the airport to get there two hours early to take an hour to fly and another hour or two to get to their destination.
I hear you ask – how about the proposed Bengaluru Metro? There is no completion date for that. Must check out the hotels near the new airport so I can make a staggered journey next time round. ♣
AT THE DOMESTIC terminal of HAL airport in Bangalore – the airport that was supposed to be doomed but reprieved because the new airport isn’t ready yet.
It isn’t just Bangalore that’s suffering from the SNAFU. Sonia Gandhi opened the new Hyderabad airport last week only for it to close the next day because it wasn’t ready.
One businessmen in Bangalore observed that even if the new airport here gets operational, it will take as long as three to five hours to get there and if you pay by taxi it will cost Rs1,000 – meaning that the bother of getting there will cost more than flights to many spots.
Bangalore HAL now has a problem too, because many of the staff here have been wooed away by the new airport, making things slightly more interesting than before.♣
BOGGARD There’s a wooden statue of Ganesh outside the Karnataka government shop here in Old HAL. We were interested to see how many airport employees took time out to touch the lotus feet of the elephant headed god.