They Just Won’t let me leave!

posted by on 2007.12.15, under India, Travel

It seems fitting that my departure from Hyderabad would be an struggle. 4 months ago, I would never have imagined over 30 people coming to see me off. The day itself was chaotic, as the work in the office was not completely finished, but as with any start up endeavor nothing really goes as planned. I said my goodbyes at the Threshold office I had tenured at, went to my house to say goodbye to my new family. I bought a beautiful painting of a famous lord krishna scene to thank them for the generosity the past 120 days. After all, they gave me a wonderful home without charge, and showed me the kind of warmth and hospitality that traditional Indian household’s are famous for having.

While we ate dinner, the neighbors stopped over to say goodbye. The young boy, Aditya presented me with a handmade card. He probably had taken a liking to me because my American accent reminded him of the place he was born. The gift was completely unexpected and caught me off guard. Days before he woke me up at 7am to play cricket, pounding on my door with his brand new bat. I only woke up to answer out of fear that the Indian officials were after me for somehow violating my visa. I couldn’t refuse to play with him when I saw how excited he was with his new sporting equipment, and went outside to bowl to him.

His gift (below) put to shame the painting I had gifted to my host family *Note that he called me “Jason Uncle” like the kids we had taken to the park for Children’s Day through the AIDS organization….I don’t know if Im ready for that title.

(It was nice meeting you we had a great time and lot of fun. Look forward meeting you again and playing cricket with you again. Have a nice trip around the world. See you again buddy bye bye. It’s a Four4 Dude)

2 hours later I was on my way to the airport, after the third round of goodbyes at Bottles and Chimneys. Satya seemed down all day, but got me to the airport as soon as possible. For the first time, Satya was not able to get me to my destination in time however, as the airlines refused to let me leave Hyderabad. I had arrived just 5 minutes after the check in time, and they closed the gate while I was in line.

Obviously I was pretty upset about the situation. People were still going through security check! Moreover, Goair never mentioned to me anything about a final check-in time. I’ve flown over 15 flights in India the past 4 months. Only 3 flights have ever left on time, so I assumed the usual 30 min rule I use for air travel really applied. Lesson learned – Indian Standard Time is not something to depend upon with airports.

Since the airlines mishandled the entire situation, refusing to let me talk to anyone in charge until the flight actually took off, I felt the need to vocalize my frustrations. I created a scene worth writing an episode of curb your enthusiasm on. I spent 45 minutes yelling at the man in charge for how his company acted at the check in, for not printing flight details on etickets, and for just being an obnoxious human being. My most trusted friends in the city witness all of this, as they came to the airport immediately after hearing I missed the flight, and stayed with me until 3 AM.

This man, a complete stranger, had been observing my behavior since I arrived at the airport.
He eventually interrupted my monologue damning GoAir to years of soft business. He surprisingly took my side in the argument, telling the GoAir manager that it was completely unreasonable not to put me on the plane saying “come on yaar, this is India.”

After I realized that i succeeded in humiliating the manager, I wrote down all of the employees names. I told them that they “handled the situation like a bunch of monkeys” I drafted up a statement, describing all of the incidents that had happened at the airport, and presented it to the manager, who agreed with everything I had written. I asked him to sign the document, and he refused. I called him a coward, and left it at that. It was an ugly scene, I am not proud of my behavior, but I don’t regret it… I said all that I needed to say.

I needed to get to Bombay, so I booked a 3am flight with Spice Jet (which was supposed to leave at 9pm the previous evening).

That was my exit from the city I was not ready to leave. I was off for a 10 day adventure through Bombay, Pune, Goa, and the Rajisthan cities of Udaipur and Jaipur. The joke of the whole debacle in the airport was that in two weeks I would return to Hyderabad on an unexpected business accidentally book a flight with the same airlines trying to avoid an airline that I had also had problems with in Goa. I was reunited with the crew I had publicly scolded, and yes, everyone remembered me the second time around. They made it very clear of this at check in time. To their detriment, I arrived to the airport not just 30 minutes early, but an hour and thirty minutes early. Not even GoAir could screw me with that kind of timeliness.

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