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DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4482
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:19 pm    Post subject: DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802 Reply with quote

DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802

This trip report can be found on the following URL:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10809.html

Chennai again, in the same month? No, I am not that frequent a
traveller. This was the LTC trip. I discovered that my LTC would
lapse, given that there was hardly any time left to claim it, and
Air India (IC) and our travel agent could only manage Chennai,
that too on flights at very odd times. An LTC trip meant that all
three of us would make the trip - The Wife, and Junior. Let us
refer to them as TW and Jr, respectively. We made it out from
our house around 04:30am, and after warming up with a very minor
altercation, we sped off towards T3. Very minor altercation? The
previous night, TW had specifically mentioned that I was to apply
cold cream in my face before going to bed. And as a
self-respecting Delhi'ite male, I promptly refused outright.
Cosmetics were for women and children, not Delhi'ite males.
TW's words were to come true, and as I would look at a mirror in
T3, I would see my skin resembling a piece of cardamom, which had
been exposed to the elements for three days, in a typical Mumbai
rainy season. White patches all over.
It was quite dark when we set out. Vehicles now often prefer
to take the dedicated T1-T3 link road, which skirts past the main
runway 28-10, beside the ARC area, and then onto the T3 entry
road. This new road has been constructed as an extension to what
used to be the free parking for T1. There is a nice tunnel on the
way. Jr was fast asleep, occasionally letting out squeaks, much
like a soft pressure cooker occasionally does, when cooking a
rather adamant Arhar (Toor) dal. Just as we stopped in front of
the Air India entrance (3-4), Jr awoke. We call him
`Ubuntu/Linux', as he boots up very quickly. He sighted cars and
vans all around him, and was understandably excited, reeling off
his knowledge of vehicular transport in a soft but excited voice.
With him nice and comfy on the pram, we entered the terminal
building. This was to be their first experience of T3, and hey -
what with three trips though it? T3 will never cease to amaze me.
We were running short of time, and that limited our excursions.
After a customary/obligatory photo-shoot in front of the elephant
pair, we shot off towards the security check. Yes, the very nice
sculptures of Papa Elephant, and Baby elephant. Please notice
the two parts of the picture. Underneath the elephantine pair
were the mammoth Papa Elephant (Yours Truly, of course),
and Jr (hardly huge) perched on Papa elephant's huge belly.





Jr soaked in the atmosphere. As we headed left from the ramp part
(we were to board from gate 28A - very close-by), we found that
boarding had already commenced. From the well-lit interiors, Jr
noticed buses and trucks on the tarmac, along with vans and
tractors, which he excitedly mentioned to us. Then he noticed
the planes - and wasn't he excited?

This part of the itinerary was as follows:
Set out 28 Dec (Tue) for Chennai from New Delhi
IC 439: Air India (A321) [Seats: 09E, 09F]
New Delhi (DEL) - Chennai (MAA)
[06:10 am - 08:30 am]

We were a bit apprehensive, since there was some very thick fog
at IGI airport two days back. Would the flight be late?
No, not much. The flight that was supposed to take off at 06:10
am - we started boarding around that time. We sat down in our
assigned seats, and Jr excitedly looked out at the proceedings
going on, outside.



There was some congestion - in my respiratory system, as usual,
ah - and also on the new runway, which was being used for
take-offs - this was on 29-11, towards the west - the Dwarka
side. When we approached the end of the taxiway, we had two Air
India (IC) 321s in front, and an IT 320 right ahead. Behind us
was a plane which I could not see clearly, as Jr was excitedly
staring out of the window, on TW's lap, in the darkness.
The loads were quite good, at least in Y (Economy). The J
(Business) class loads were a bit sparse - I counted only three
passengers on the left side of the plane, from what was visible
from my seat. I have no idea about the other side. Y was
chock-a-block. There was no empty seat in the vicinity. Good
loads on Air India bode well for it! VT-PPN was to be our steed
for the journey.

If the reader is wondering about when the food part would come
in, so was I. Having woken up at an unearthly hour, and performed
the morning clearance duties well in time, the middle was sending
some urgent vacancy signals to my brain. It turned out that all
three of us were quite hungry. Mummy had brought some nice
chocolate cake the previous night, and TW had packed it in, very
thoughtfully. The family took (to) the cake, and ate it, too.
The cake disappeared within no time. Jr, infamous as a very fussy
eater, took a special liking to it, and the cake vanished by the
time push-back was well in place. We had a smooth take-off in
foggy conditions, with the beautiful T3 visible to our right.
Captain Mehboob Butt was in command. We had good weather
throughout the flight. Good. But food?
Yes, it came in quickly.
Fresh lemon drink, a fruit bowl, and the main course, followed by
tea/coffee. The fruit bowl had two slices of a sweet papaya, one
of pineapple, and one musk mellon/cantaloupe slice. A nice way to
start the day. TW took a veg box, and Yours Truly the devoted
carnivore-when-out-of-the-house, took the non-veg option. The
non-veg option was good, but nothing special - a large omlette,
and baked beans in tomato gravy. The veg option was quite
exciting - an anupam upama, vadas, and sambhar. Why anupam upama?
Jr took a fancy for it, and took quite a few helpings. TW also
seemed to enjoy it. Jr was also interested in playing with the
nice things on view - the butter chiplet soon became
down-to-earth. The fruit pieces were particularly attractive for
him. He tried a bit of each, and decided that they were better to
play around with, than to be tasted, chewed, and digested. Bacon
(the Sir Francis kind) apart, he did not find himself in the good
books of Mummy, since he decided to do a few bench-press-like
moves with the table in front. The first casualty was the
sambhar, which found its way right into TW's purse. Now, you know
how possessive ladies are about their purses - more so, brand new
ones. Hell hath no fury than a lady scorned, due to her
possessions smitten - so said Shakespeare. Or at least some of
the words above, if not all.
A scolding later, and there was a period of relative
inactivity. This was the lull before the storm. The low-pressure
area developed around the coffee cup - and was more than a storm
in a tea-cup. Some of the hot coffee went on TW's lap due to the
projectile motion of the fluid - due to a factor which physicists
simply refer to by the term `g', and some of it duly found its
way into the much-maligned purse. Jr would do Mr. Edsel Murphy
quite proud - yes, the same person after whom the famous
universal law is named. No crying over spilt milk - coffee,
rather. That was the mantra, as we decided to keep Jr's spirits
up, rather than tell him to behave. What if he let loose his lung
power on the full Economy section of an Airbus 321?

A quick aside. In my days as a contented bachelor (read, a
bachelor to contend with), one of my friends who had got married
a while back, was pouring out some of the typical husband woes to
his other friends. Here is how he put it, to a person who was in
the accounts section of a Government organisation. Yes, in a pure
chaste vernacular rendition of The Queen's Language.
``L(D)ook, it izzz reeeeally very ZimBle,'' he started off.
The gist of the rest of his description was as follows.
When a married woman's prized possessions get damaged, the
husband usually finds himself short on imprest cash. Plaintive
protests of ignorance and recession-driven austerity measures are
not given an official nod by the Home Ministry. A
Letter-of-Intent is generated, and three quotations get obtained
very quickly. In a break from officialese, the highest bidder
usually gets selected. The friend (an aviation buff, by the way)
then announced that the entire process is performed at Supersonic
speed. In Caesarian terms, ``I came, I saw, I was Concorde.''
Ah, but there are exceptions, right?
In my case, I was more concerned about what would happen in case
there was a shift in wind direction. I mean, the direction of the
hot winds - the direction the anger would shift to, in case it
did. Unlike husbands, planes do better when taking off against
the winds, and landing against them. Testing conditions for
planes are often in `hot and high conditions'. This holds for
husbands, too. I must end this here, as TW reads what I write.

After a usual nice Air India meal, Yours Truly nodded in
appreciation. And soon, nodded off to sleep. The sleep was a bit
disturbed one, since Jr decided that once he was awake, he would
also re-try his bench-presses. I finally awoke when the plane was
coming in to land. I had hoped for a sea-side approach into the
main runway, with the Marina Beach, the Commissioner's office,
the Chennai port, the clock-tower, perhaps even St. Thomas
church - would all come into view. But that was wishful thinking.
While TW was busy watching `The Three Idiots' for the nth time, I
switched on to the moving map, which clearly told us that we had
circled over the city, and were coming in from the other
direction. The terminal appeared to the right, and once
ex-Paramount aircraft with its new registration was still there
on the tarmac. Another was on the opposite side, near the
secondary runway. There was not much action at MAA - a Srilankan
330 had come in, and parked beside an Emirates A330. There were
quite a few narrow-body movements. Ah! Captain Mehboob Butt had made
a very smooth landing, which made the trip quite memorable. Even
more memorable input to the conclusion of the leg - came from the
fact that our baggage, which was tagged `Priority', indeed came
out quite quickly. Jr's pram, one huge suitcase (full of his
things), one large kit bag (no guesses as to the contents), a
small bag (mostly our stuff), all came out without much ado,
though the kit bag was delayed a little bit.
The temperature outside was 22 degrees centigrade, and we soaked
in the Chennai overcast weather, as we headed into the city in a
pre-paid taxi.

The day was spent in locating our hotel, and meeting Bro dear and
his wife (who are Chennai'ites), which culminated in a nice lunch
at a Sangeetha's joint. Jr was in high spirits. He slept well in
the afternoon, which gave us some breathing space, and pumped us
up before our overnight train journey to Ooty. Yes,
Udhagamandalam, or Ootacamud, as it is sometimes called. This
part of our itinerary was as follows:

Set out 28 Dec (Tue) for Metupalaiyam (MTP) from
Chennai Central (MAS) at 09:00 pm
12671 Nilagiri Express, II Tier AC
Coach A1, Berths 31, 33 (Lower, Lower)
to reach Metupalaiyam (MTP) 29 Dec (Wed) at 06:15 am

Jr was awake for a very long time, and when TW went to the
platform at Coimbatore station (to get us some welcome refreshment), he was well up and awake. After a
long struggle, he finally went to sleep, and so did we. We did
the journey from Metupalaiyam to Ooty in a Maruti Omni van. Here
is a beautiful view of the Ooty town from our hotel.



Ooty has a lake called (unsurprisingly), the Ooty Lake.



Beside the Ooty lake is the Deer Park. We were not quite welcome.
How did we find that out? Please check out a picture of this male
deer showing us the Traditional Maori insult: baring his
posterior in the direction of some visitors.



We went to the more famous Pycara lake, where there was an
ancestral moment.



It had rained a bit, and the sky was overcast.



We did not miss the Pycara falls, when the sun came out again.



On the way back, we went past the Ooty station. We could not get
bookings on the toy train - a miss for us. We seem to be missing
the toy trains everywhere - at Matheran, the track had been
washed away after the 26 Jul torrential cloudburst in 2005. In
2006, we cancelled our trip owing to ill-health of a relative
who was supposed to accompany us. And now, this!



The next day, we visited the top-most point in South India in some
glorious sunny weather, with clear visibility all around -
Doddabetta Peak!



On the way down, we stopped by at the Doddabetta Tea Factory - a
wonderful guided tour!



Ooty specialises in essential oils, and... `home-made chocolate'!



On the way down, we saw some lovely terraced fields.
Ooty is well-known for potatoes, small carrots, and other nice things.



We paid a hurried visit to the Botanical gardens. This had been
established in 1848, and is an extremely well-maintained place.
We were getting a bit late, so we made a quick hop in, went
click-click-click, and then set out for Metupalaiyam in a
Santro. Here are some pictures of the Botanical gardens.



A `canonical' view!





...and we boarded the Nilagiri Express back to Chennai.

Set out 30 Dec (Thu) for Chennai Central (MAS) from
Metupalaiyam (MTP) at 07:45 pm
12672 Nilagiri Express, xxxx
Coach xx, Berths xx, xx (xx, xx)
to reach Chennai Central (MAS) 31 Dec (Thu) at 05:10 am

We had one more sortie up in our itinerary - Mahabalipuram!
The sun was a bit unbearable, and most of it was a hurried
run-around.



We were back for a nice late lunch with Bro dear and his wife at
a Mediterranean joint called `Tangerine', and then bid them good
bye, and went to the Chennai airport. This part of our itinerary
was as follows:

Set out 31 Dec (Fri) for New Delhi from Chennai
IC 802: Air India (A321) [Seats: xx, xx]
Chennai (MAA) - New Delhi (DEL)
[08:15 pm - 11:05 pm]

Jr had got tired all this while, and had fallen asleep; right in
the hotel. Yours Truly garnered some brownie points by taking him
in his lap, and maintaining Jr's state of perfect bliss all
throughout the trip - just before boarding the plane. The plane
arrived a bit late. Now, we missed taking off over the sea, as
the plane did a quick turnaround, and turned over the bustling
Chennai city. Jr did not miss a minute of the take-off, planes
all around him. When the action subsided, he promptly fell
asleep.

Ah yes, Dinner! IC did not disappoint. TW's constant crib was
that we had not got even a single opportunity to sample
Chettinad cuisine. Her prayers were answered! Yes, the fresh salad
had a slice of lemon beside it. The non-veg dinner option had a
parantha wrapped on top of the food box. And inside was... a
simple cauliflower curry (not too oily, or spicy), it was very
tasty. But what took the cake was the Chicken Chettinad! This was
a continentalised version of the original fiery dish - mildly, but
delicately spiced. This seems to be a standard on IC 810 out of
Chennai - the evening IC flight, as some of my colleagues later
confirmed. The marination was done just so, and the pieces were
nice and succulent. This went very well with the steamed rice. TW
and I really enjoyed the meal, which was topped up with a
delicious Shahi tukda - a piece of leavened bread sinfully
immersed in sugary syrup with pieces of pistachos and a piece of
saffron thrown in, in a tight concoction of sweet dessicated
milk. If IC's load factors are high just because of the
incredible food, I would not be surprised! Jr did not appreciate
much of the culinary delights his parents were devouring in his
presence - he chose to sleep on. Which was quite nice, since TW
was able to enjoy a very ordinary coffee - but at least in
peace.

We had been delayed a bit, and when we stepped out of the aero-bridge -
lo and behold, there was a battery-operated vehicle which pulled
up right in front of us. This was too much to refuse, and TW
mentioned to the driver that it would have been even better had
he dropped us right home! We got down from the escalators in front
of the mudras gallery, and TW and I had a couple of obligatory
photo-sessions. We were politely refused priority baggage tags at
Chennai, but our luggage came out quite promptly. The captain had
made an incredibly smooth touchdown. The very senior captain
wished all the cabin crew a very happy new year - personally, and
extended his new year greetings to the ground staff who had come
to man the aero-bridge as well. The lady co-pilot was also in a
good mood. I thanked the captain for a real feather-touch
landing, and his genuine smile of warmth in appreciation - said it all.
Wow - are these the same IC/AI which we hear horror stories about?

We were reminded of an IC trip from Bengaluru in 2009, when our
baggage items were tagged with priority tags (and they indeed
came out quickly). Not just that, we were taking some time in
getting up (Jr was in TW's lap, and we had quite a bit of cabin
luggage). We were the last to disembark - we thanked the chief
stewardess for a nice flight. As we did that, the captain and the
second-in-command came out, saw us, and ordered for a special
small vehicle (the type that is generally reserved for the
pilots) - just for us! This was touching, and we were assisted
into the vehicle. The royal treatment was to continue - we were
bused in from the extreme left gate (which was opened just for
us), and TW and Jr were able to sit in a relatively unobtrusive
place in Terminal 1C! These little pieces of help are touching,
and just about make me choose IC/AI almost each time I travel.

Here is a now-customary shot of the mudras gallery.



The moving pen writeth, and having writ, moveth on.
The roving finger typeth, and having typeth, moveth on.
On to the next trip report!
Cheers, Sumantra.
---
Links to my previous TRs, in reverse chronological order:

4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10510.html

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10401.html

2. DEL-NAG-NDC, NDC-BOM-DEL on G8
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10169.html

1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10018.html


Last edited by sumantra on Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR Sumantra. A very funny third party narration too.

Cheers
Shivendra
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely trip report - sounds like a nice fight (err, sorry flight) as well Wink!
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G-BYGB
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great TR.Its nice to see more elaborate report of the entire trip and the places visited,apart from the usual airport scene.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shivendra, Nimish and Sreenivas: thank you for your kind words!
Nimish: after fights, husbands generally take flight - not flight(s) Smile
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice narrative TR. You have a good script to make a video out of it Smile

Sri_Bom
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avbuff
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR, sumantara.
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the appreciation, Sri and Ojas!
Sri: video - Hmm... Jr scripts up a new story each time!
Ojas: I am surprised you of all people - a Punekar - got my name wrong again. `Sumantra' - a bahuvrhI (`bahuvruhi' to most Maharashtrians) samAs, ``su mantraNA dadAti ya.h, sa.h''. Literally, `one who gives good advice'. Remember King Dasharatha's chief minister in the Ramayana?
Cheers, Sumantra.
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GuyFromBOM
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic TR, Sumantra..!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...glad you liked it, Hiren - thank you!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great TR and interesting shots as well, thanks a ton for sharing! Looking forward to your next one. Smile
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Varun! The next three are on a non-exotic sector, DEL-BOM/BOM-DEL. However, each has some reason to be described in detail...TW and Jr with me on the Jan one (IT+IC); a Metro and Airport Express Experience, and flights on the IC-AI cusp in Feb (26/27); and some interesting snippets in the Mar one. I'll try to complete them, soon.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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himmat01
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It always a pleasure going through your TRs. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this TR.

cheers,

Himmat
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I especially appreciate your kind words, Himmat, since I have long admired your informative posts on both A.net and AI.net. I also remember your advice on travelling with little kids, and the fact that your daughter has been a frequent flyer since the age of 3 months!
Thanks, Sumantra.
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PNQIAD
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome TR Smile thoroughly enjoyed the narration.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for your kind words, @PNQIAD!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thoroughly enjoyed your TR Sumantra! It took me down memory lane...I visited Ooty in March 1991....could still remember the Botanical Gardens. The toy train ride to Coimbatore was the highlight of my trip!
Thanks!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot, PAL@YWG - I have enjoyed reading your posts, and look forward to more, including trip reports!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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