Sunday, November 05, 2006

How do you know you've actually arrived in India...

All the Indians working at the airport would be 1 clue.

All the guys hanging out at baggage claim to help you find your bad would be another.

My guy, I'll call him Ravi-I-think-I'm-the-best-at-finding-a-sucker, picks me, and starts in. What does my bag look like, did I fly business class. Is it this one (no, it's a purple wheely bag - borrowed Nava's at the last minute, so I'd have more room for stuff to bring home, just in case), is it that one (no, it's purple), is it that one (no, that has wheels, but it's like a roll-on bag, just bigger). Off to the back area - it's coming out now. Nothing comes out that's purple. Purple - yes, exactly like the bag you helped the first guy with. Off to window to look at the luggage carts coming in, and then to the back again. Ok - it's really coming out now. Not this one? No, it's a roll-on one. One more trip to the back - I think maybe he's given up on me, as he's gone for 10 minutes, but he comes out smiling. It's really on the way this time - he found the bag w/ the luggage tag that matched my back-pack. Didn't notice him eye-balling that, but my bag comes out, and now he's rolling me out to customs. Stop him, hand him $2 (don't have any rupees yet, and he did make my bag come out a bit faster). Get the look of increduousness. No - $2 is not enough - I had to crawl over 7 baggage carts to find it. I broke down way to easily and gave him another $1, and let him know that was it. First $2 was fine - it was an interesting show, and he did help a bit. I am annoyed that I caved in and gave him another $1, just cause I should have seen it coming.

Out through customs, and into the threshold area, where the guys in suits meet you from the hotel. Guy from my hotel is walking somebody else out, I'm told, so I wait a few minutes. He comes back, and escorts me outside, to where the Taxi driver from my hotel is waiting, and hands me off. I thought the guy from the threshold area was the Taxi driver, so didn't have a tip ready to go, and whiffed it and he got nothing. Taxi driver was fun - not to chatty, but pointed out the highlights on the way. And let me finish my cigarette in the car. Smoking is such a mental thing for me - I can last a 3, 6 or even 12 hour flight without thinking about smoking. But, once the plane touches down, I need a cigarette.

So back to the question "How do you know you've actually arrived in India on your business trip?" Neither of the first 2 were really clicked - especially not the successive tip opportunities. Had a 1 day lay-over in Cairo on a trip once. From the porter hanging out on the floor (1st tip), to the front desk porter (2nd), taxi organizer (3rd), guy who takes your bags from the taxi (4th), guy who pushes your luggage cart to the airport entrance (5th), entrance to security (6th) and finally post security to checkin (7th tip). It's a fact-of-life in countries with high under-employment that the more times someone can get helped, the more chances there are for tips.

For me, it was the first cow walking on the street. Kind of like a teenager hanging out - no plans, no place to go, just there. That was when I got the "Oh - I'm in India" feeling!

And now I have rupees, which is very good, as my supply of $1 bills was out.

Le Meridien in Bangalore is quiet nice - rooms are good (3-4 star), and the service is great (4-5 star).

My room safe refused to accept a new PIN, so on my way to breakfast I stopped by the front desk to mention it. In the US, it'd quite often be "Oh - we'll inform maintenance", and then at some random point later, something might be done about it. Here it was "Are you going back to your room now?" No, I'm goint to breakfast "Ok - can you come by this desk after breakfast, and we'll send someone with you to fix it." Stop back by after breakfast, and "someone" is one of the person you're chatting with. No delays in trying to find someone else. Unfortunately, it wasn't stupid user error, or just a simple reset, so she had to call down to maintenance.

They came up and replaced the battery, but the lock still wouldn't work. So - out comes the safe, and 5 minutes later, I had a new safe installed and working fine. Sunday morning, 9am.

Good thing about visiting a country with under-employment is that they can have a full staff of folks to solve your problems right away.


Nava said...

Or can it be that they actually care to make your stay pleasant, as opposed to the "Have-a-nice-day-but-your-problems-are-your-own-Ma'am"?

Nice pics, but it pretty such looks like any place in the world. That is not why I made TexieD bring back the camera you gave him...

We wanna see cows! On the street, that is, not as your dinner entree.

JohnnyB said...

Well, I'll try to actually leave the hotel today!

I was so wiped out yesterday, I slept from 10am to 3pm, and then sat in a daze for a while, blogged, had dinner, and went back to sleep @ 9pm!