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Thursday, May 29, 2008

My friend Sivakumar's recent trip/ordeal to India

Shivakumar- one of my good friends lives in Chicago. He went to India recently and vented out his frustration in a mail. I am reproducing his mail with his permission:

In Shivas' words:

"My India trip was for just 10 days.

Flew by Air India and was as usual bad. In Bombay, the pilot started backing the flight with aero bridge still connected and scratched the doors. So there was a fight between the flight crew and ground staff on this on whose was at fault. After an hour passengers started shouting at them, then they deplaned us, started looking for the rules book to find out what to do with us, as there were passengers from Newark, Chicago, Paris and singapore - part of them had completed immigration and customs in Bombay and some of them are suppose to do it at chennai.

After 5 hours of confusion, they found that the flight had only minor scratch, so decided to fly the same flight - which left me with barely 5 minutes to connect to my Coimbatore flight, which I miraculously managed to make it! Then after boarding that flight, there was some problem with that flight too (it was Jet Airways) so they took another 2 hours to replace something in the front wheel.

Finally reached home very tired, hungry, dehydrated and had food poisoning. The very next day, after consulting a doctor for my stomach upset, I set off to Kodaikanal with my family for a 3 days/ 2 nights trip. On the way to Kodai, stopped at Pazani and had a quick VIP darshan of Lord Subramanya, and hogged few cans of panjaamirtham.

Kodaikanal was very crowded, dirty, commercialized with shops, and damn expensive (a ordinary dosa was 41 ruppees) but there was no place to pee! I think TN has the worst tourism dept. In Karnataka, the popular places used to be at least cleaner than TN.

With 500 rupee bribe and a letter in written in green ink, we got permission to visit the forest preserve Berijam - this place is pretty good and looks less inhabited. Has lot of view points and would be best for trekking with its valleys and steep hills. But in a years time, it will be as dirty & crowded as any other tourist spot in TN.

Then visited the usual places in and around Kodai - lake, boating, bryant park, Kokkers Walk etc. It was fun.

Then came back home to attend a relatives wedding, did little bit of shopping in chennai silks at Erode, and slept over for a day at home. Then its time to pack the bags again for USA.

• The most advanced cell phones are found and used to the core only in India and every body has atleast 3 different phones and 5 different SIM cards.

• Schools seem to be the lucrative business - there were two international schools in my home town and were about dozen new matriculation schools. There were 3 new engineering colleges & 2 polytechnic colleges since my last visit (a year and half back).

• Job opportunities even in non-IT sectors seem to be abundant. An adult who had just passed 8th std can easily find a job with Rs. 5000 salary in no time ; they were posters everywhere hunting for people. Even govt arts college students studying BSc physics seem to be getting a job in campus interviews!

• People are crazily spending money. All book stores, CD/DVD/electronics stores, restaurants are bubbling with people.

• For very small town like mine, I'm surprised to find 4 stock brokerage firms!

• Chinese foods seem to be very popular too. Almost all decent looking restaurants offer Chinese menu!"

Looks like flight problem was reported in the news as well..