Monday, February 19, 2007

As Tense as all the trips ! Part II!

The flight to Dubai was spent pretty peacefully..in fact the moment the flight took of both of us slept of... I for one dint wake up untill the announcement came that we were abt to land in Dubai in a short while.. This got me all excited..Emirates airlines has this really good in house television where we can actually be privy to what can be observed at the cockpit..pretty neat i thought.. also there was another video channel which gives the flight directions... the topographical map etc.. A cool feature..especially for a first timer in emirates...I was trying to see if I can see the Ship like hotel (burj-al-something) from above but no such luk..not sure if there is any construction like that anyway....Dubai Airport had pretty neat construction... no pictures of the airport though...trust me to have actually checked in the camera :(...anyway although we were awestruck by the airport ... everything wasnt as smooth...how could it be with the kind of luck that we were having...we had some problems while boarding the flight..coz amazingly a couple of indians and we had our passport being taken away for some stupid excuse like scanning (is it coincidental that only Indians were faced with this problem?...worth thinking abt)..anyway that incident apart we boarded the flight for moscow...there were a couple more indian students ( medical....pretty obvious..eh) travelling to moscow along with us..really dint strike much of a conversation coz I wasnt feeling that alrite ( this is more of an understatement.... i had sharp pains shooting in my stomach periodically and i was struggling with this ailment throughout the trip) guess it was to do with predominant travelling in a sitting posture....my friend sampled a bit of the cuisine served in the flight and completely lost his apetite...a rude welcome to the world of bland uncooked/semicooked european food:)...I for one had food as the last thing on my mind...struggling with my stomach ache...We taxied into mocow at arnd 2:00 p.m. moscow time.. Temperature outside was announced as -16 degrees...This really had me all excited.. I had my jacket with me and the gloves...thought i was ready for battling the cold...all arnd me ppl were gearing up... for the battle with jackets et all...from the flight we there was an aero bridge connecting directly into the airport..The way open for barely abt 3 seconds...Just for three seconds we were exposed to the cold of -16 degrees... for the first time in my life...The experience completely knocked the wind out of us.. we actually could not speak for a minute..completely taken aback by the coldness..everywhere arnd it was ice... and even the runway was covered with ice..on hindsight a great job by the pilot to land smoothly in the runway..too numbed by the cold to evenr notice the skills displayed by the pilot..At the immigration, we faced our first hurdle..A commmunicating challenge..none on the officials knew english..and they asked some queries..we had no clue as to what they were asking.. Fortunately there was somebody from the client side waiting for us at the airport wo talked to the officials and clarified as to why we were in Russia braving the cold :)..Moscow airport was a bit of a letdown... Dubai airport set too high a standard :)... The client representative handed us the ticket for our Next Flight from Moscow to a lil known place called Ufa some 1200 kms from moscow.. In most countries that would be a formidable distance including India.. but not in Russia..where the trans siberian network takes eight looong days to complete its journey!!!.. We had to kill arnd five hours at moscow airport...Dint even think abt venturing out in the numbing cold...Killing time at the airport..is a bit of a bore...My friend was browsing thro our ticket.. and thats when we got a real rude shock.. the ticket was dated for the previous day.. most of the stuff (meaning all the literals) was in russian but thankfully the numbers were the same as english numbers... and clearly the date was for the previous day...another adminsitrative goof up...We wanted to confirm our fears... but then communicating in English is one of the biggest challenges.. we did find out a person at the informative desk who had a semblance of knowledge of english who confirmed our fears... The person also direct us to the counter of the airlines where we can try to get the date changed provided of course tickets were available for the day of travel..Luckily Tickets were available...After a bit of contemplation we bought the tickets 1033 roubles each... pretty decent price i guess for a distance of arnd 1200 kms.. at short notice..

The security check at moscow is pretty rugged process... We had to take out even our shoes and get it scanned...Boarding the flight to ufa in the cold would now be our next big challenge... We had to go out in the open and board a bus which would take us to the flight..no aero bridge this time arnd...This time though we were better prepared.. We had all our winter gear on us.. including thermals, monkey cap and gloves....The prepapration though barely seemed like anything...I mean it was as if we were stark naked in that cold.. Made me think that what was civilization doing in this extreme temperature... again we were way too shocked by the cold... and completely speechless...and to top it all since the airport did not have any buildings nearby it was actually a lil windy....Finally boarded the flight to Ufa.. By now you would have guessed how i spent time in the flight..yeah u guessed it right...completely knocked out.. dint even know when the flight took off... in fact when i woke up the flight was actually taxiing to a stop in a wilderness which i later came to know as Ufa at 2 o clock in the morning local time.. There was no runway and as far the eyes could see everywhere it was a thick blanket of snow..the pilot did quite an amazing job once again... We got out of the flight.. to a temperature of -2 degrees and more windy conditions...boy we were getting used to the conditions pretty fast :)...We boarded the bus and ater a few monutes the bus stopped at some gates...It seemed a lil strange coz i couldnt actually see any airport beyond the gate..we found out that the gate was exit out or the airport and we actually had to wait outside in the cold in open windy conditions till our baggage arrives..imagine our shock...Cold is an understatement to the feeling that was engulfing us during our wait.. for the baggage..Einstien Theory of relativity worked with perfection.. and it seemed like we had to wait till eternity till our baggage came along.. We were trying to keep ourselves warm by walking in cirles( quite an exercise given the fact there was thick feet of snow all arnd) and rubbing our hands and for the first time without cigarettes i was letting out smoke from my mouth like a chimney...Me and my friend were distinctly feeling the cold more than anyone else and this was partly because ppl there were used to it i guess.. and then partly because i guess our equipments for preparing us for the cold wasnt really that great as what is available locally, which is what everybody arnd was decked with.. Finally after the wait till eternity the baggage arrived...and we quickly grabbed ours..thankfuly our cab was waiting for us and we quickly got in.. back in the comforts of the heated car...Finally we reached our hotel and were just abt ready to hit the sack for some more and much needed sleep..this time in the proper posture...but then our day and the string of bad luck was not to end so soon :)... we reached the hotel and got to know though our resevrations were for the day but the check in time is usually 12 in the afternoon..the time in UFA was three o clock in the morning..The ppl at the reservation who thankfully knew english said that at present no rooms were empty and we would have to wait till 6 in the morning for the rooms to get empty... All we could was kill time at teh 24 hrs cafe at the hotel.. till then..Although we did have tea at the cafe...the caffeine content was not enuff.. and i again went into deep slumber in a sitting posture.. finally my friend awakened me at six in the morning and said the rooms were... immidiately we grabbed the keys and hit the sack for a much needed rest...

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3 Comments:

Blogger Jaya said...

Welcome to the cold world.. I dont mean to boast.. but it gets to -30C here in Cincinnati and we had ice rain and snow and evrything under the sun (not really) last week. Another thing I should have warne dyou about... The winter wear you get back in India is not worth anything. You should buy yourself winter jackets at the destination. They arent too expensive (atleast in the US) and are super durable. Also to make u feel better, you really cant tell the difference between -20 and -30. All feels the same. :-)

Welcome back to bloggin by the way. And do the one good thing you can while u r out there. Learn Russian.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Raghunathan Srinivasan said...

Well, I wasnt surprisd by the fact that you struggled in the cold for someone who hs not seen even the Indian Winter. By the way was it - 16 C or - 16 F. Well i think both are around the same. Welcome to cold lands. But i guess UFA airport might have been a bad experience. What is the conversion rate by the way?

7:39 AM  
Blogger Sudarshan said...

Jaya--> well i found out the tuff way abt the winter wear u get in india and hw sufficient they are ... thanks for the early warning :P...blogging.. well i guess its just to do with topics and laziness :)... Russian has become more than a good thing.. it has become a means of survival...
Raghu--> Thank god it wasnt -16 F... though i am not sure i would be able to say the difference..well conversion rate thankfullly is good..welcome to the cheaper part of eastern europe a rouble is worth 1.6 rupees approx..anyway i am getting accustomed the cold i guess...

Will update more soon..

8:12 PM  

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