Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Voyage across the seven seas

Well.. not quite the seven seas, maybe a couple of seas and a couple of oceans. Doesn't make the travel any less bearable though. Every time I travel to the US the interest to put up with the whole charade dies that little bit more. Writing this from the Hong Kong airport, while the memories are still fresh. nose smile

This to me is like the problem we have with white cricket balls used in one-day internationals. Somehow with all the technology and feedback the situation doesn't improve. Usually I go for non-veg asian, and since I haven't exactly enjoy the spread earlier, I chose veg asian meal this time around. And verdict... no better!


HongKong-SFO {Dinner}:

HongKing-SFO {Lunch}:

The photos above doesn't tell the full story because with all the equisite packing any food will look good. I look around and see all the chinkies(includes japs, koreans, singaporeans etc) gorging on what has been served to them. Am I picky or do the non-indian airlines not know how to make a decent indian meal?? Since I am not a food connosieur I would think its the latter.

Security Checks {OBL Standard}:
I fit into the classic wheatish complexion bracket and this is enough for every security officer to suddenly feel the need to do their duty! In the flight from Singapore to Hong Kong there were only 2 indians(yup.. just 2) on board. Don't know about the other chap, but of all passengers an officer came up to me and said "Sir, random passport check...'. Something told me it was not so random! nose smile He looked long and hard at my face, a little too much eye contact, if you ask me. I was dressed as decently as I could, not creating any ruckus, no extra baggage(just the laptop bag) and minding my own business. I really wonder what qualified me to be the lucky guy! It was racial profiling at its best, but felt quaintly special too. I felt like looking up to all the chinkies and telling "You can only dream of this much attention!" wink nose But then, on second thoughts, if all this racial profiling can ensure that I don't die saying "Howdy" to some guy sitting in some high rise building, I am all for it!

Even the help staff would rather help anyone but brown skin. Here was me walking all around the place with nothing to do and an obvious question mark on my face. I didn't have anyone come up to me and ask "Can I help you?", while I saw about 4 chinkies and couple of goras being ment this special treatment. Now, ofcourse we desis are smart(me included :-)) and don't need this help, but then, remember I am now expecting special treatment till I reach fatherland! Looks like special treatment is only when someone feels like groping me under the guise of checking and not when I am looking around for McDonalds and obviously going the wrong way.

Initially the surprise was limited to the ever changing requirement of the photo dimensions for an US visa. Now, the whole travel is filled with such surprises.

Surprise #1: Batteries not allowed! Wait a sec... rechargable batteries are special, but the officer is not sure and disallows them. It almost looked like this fresh rule is made on the fly, almost like "Aaah.. Ajay is travelling, lets just make his travel that much more exciting!" Just while I was wondering what I would with the batteries... Surprise #2 attacks.
Surprise #2: I am told that I can have only one hand baggage. All I have is one laptop bag and my backpack(a small one at that). I suddenly have to squeeze anything important or costly into my already filled up laptop bag. Luckily my batteries found a way of getting into the now have to be checked-in backpack. I now comply with the rules and have only one hand baggage, having checked-in my now empty and "free to open" backpack.
Surprise #3: Now that rules for Ajay have been formulated, its time to make him sorry for not having bleached his skin! Almost all chinkies getting into the plane are carrying cameras and in fact taking photos! Some are carrying more than one hand baggage and no one is stopping them. The situation gets worse at Singapore and Hong Kong where you are allowed to carry in as many "duty free shopping bags" as you want/can. Grrr... and they make me part ways with my good ol' backpack! angry


My memories of Singapore Airlines will always be good, as I cannot remember taking my eyes of the personalized TV screens. Nice movies, new movies, food/service/sleep/anything else can wait! But in Cathay, as has been the case the last couple of times, they expect you to pay to watch the new movies. They play old movies, but they are ones that have already been screened a zillion times on HBO or Star Movies. Radio channels have one/two english ones and one hindi in a very short repeat loop. The travel just got very boring!! Add to the fact that since the time diff between my Indian and Cathay was about 45 mins, I got the window seats for
the leg from Singapore to Hong Kong and also for the Hong Kong to SFO one! Sigh....


How can I forget work! Usually these Business trip types are 50% timepass, 50% work. But with my current employer, it almost certain that I will be slogging it out there. I almost feel the duckling walking into a desert with vultures almost impatiently waiting for me. :-(

Why do I put myself through this? Do I have to come to fatherland? Do I have to eat this food? While these questions keep consuming me, I am interrupted by myself... "Hey, Did I just see a Circuit City 2 miles from office? Did I just see a Fry's flyer with an almost moronic deal on a Sandisk Memory Stick?"
nose smile nose smile

Categorized As:


nsd said...

Dude, think what I would have gone through when I traveled 3 days after 911 on a delta.
All this racist shit pisses me off and I apply one of my tried and successful theories. "If you f*ck with me and I can not harm you; I will make sure, I f*ck with your brain and you will not sleep quietly @ night."
First, make sure you are well within rules_&_regulations. If they ask for 1 cabin baggage; take exactly one. Never exceed check-in baggage weight limit. Check-in well in advance; basically all good boy stuff. And then when they select you *randomly*; make sure you f*ck their brains out with your talk (and remember never to raise your voice). I asked questions like “What is your logic behind random selection? Every 20th guy? I will wait here and see whom are you selecting next *randomly*?” If they ask what is in there or in there? Never answer (you are not entitled to). Say “You are anyway gonna check it, right?”. After they shuffle stuff in your bag up-side-down; ask them to put everything where it was. Make them fold every piece of cloth as it was. Tell them you paid 5$ for laundry for each shirt and you do not appreciate them, putting their sweaty hands on it. Tell them you are allergic to other people's sweat and you are not sure where there hands have been; seeing how *randomly* they select people. If they ask you one question; ask them two back. If they tell you, “your cooperation will only speed up the checking”, tell them “their humanity will only make the world a better place to live”. Ask them; while pointing to every guy walking by; why they are not *random* checking them?
And believe me, I did all that. And how about playing this ( animation on your laptop; while they do the checking? I did not try it though. :)

Ajay said...

Though I didn't do the *dare* that you did, I think the frustration is warranted. But as I said, I cannot think of many others ways of making the world a safer place. Can you?