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Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:26 pm    Post subject: Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011 Reply with quote

Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011

This trip report can be found at the following URL:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12157.html

I seem to go to places which people on this forum do not visit,
at least, frequently. This sounds ominous...a bit like the PJ
about why Star Trek's Mr. Spock set out for the Ladies Washroom.
I seem to have been lucky to visit some off-beat and some exotic
destinations, in addition to some bog-standard routes, which have
been reported on many times. This does not deter me however, from
putting in my tuppence, as a trip report.

Off-beat places? Jabalpur it would be this time, the city of
marble rocks, as one studied back in school. The trip started on
an overcast morning, when I was absolutely loathe to get up.
After an `alarming' moment (which woke up TW - `The Wife', but
thankfully, not Junior), I reluctantly left the cosy comfort of
the bed, to get ready. It was 03:10am, and the taxi was supposed
to come in less than an hour. In the darkness, I searched for my
slippers with my feet, but this did not yield the desired
results. I looked under the bed after turning on a small light.
I found the pair of slippers sulking down there. They soon adored
(albeit, reluctantly) my (smelly) feet, and I proceeded with my
morning chores. It was warm and humid, and I set out in the early
hours towards IGI airport Delhi, T3.

It was not light yet - and in such serene surroundings, one gets
to see sights which at least to me, are quite unfamiliar. Like
many others, I absolutely dislike starting the morning with
getting up. In fact, my bachelor days saw me waking up when the
first rays of the sun entered my room - which incidentally, faced
west. The car took the T1 route, the road that has a long tunnel
which goes just under the threshold of the main runway 28-10, a
fragment of which was the earlier `free parking' behind Terminal
1. We rushed past the serene ARC area, which had the two B707s,
an Il-76 Gajraj, and a few other planes. We would overfly this
place on take-off soon!

This part of my itinerary was as follows:

Set out 23 Jul (Sat) for Jabalpur from New Delhi
AI 9807: Air India (ATR-42) [Seat: 03D; PNR: Y9JBS]
New Delhi (DEL) - Jabalpur (JLR)
[06:10 am - 08:10 am]

T3 had its own surprises. This was the first anniversary, and
there was a shopping festival that was on.



There was the same good-looking Renault Fluence car nearby, that
I had seen the last time round. Only the blue tape around it was
missing. I guess the DIAL management does not believe in any tape -
any red tape gives them the blues.



I made my customary escalator trip to the food court and
immediately back, to catch...no, not a quick bite, but a quick
view of the action on the tarmac.



An Air India A330-200 was parked on the international side. That
and an Air India 777-200LR apart, there was not much to catch
one's notice. There was an A320 in the classic Indian Airlines
livery amidst quite a few Air India A321s and A319s all around.
Gate 42C! I was looking forward to this one. Why? This would be a
bus gate, on the ground floor. Before setting out towards the
private airlines' end (where Gate 42 is located, by the way), I
peeped amidst the darkness towards the planes which got the bus
gates. There was a Jet Airways ATR-72, an Air India CRJ-700
(VT-RJB, as I was was to figure out, later), and...an Air India
Regional ATR-42-320 in the old Alliance Air livery (VT-ABB, as I
was to figure out again, later). I sincerely hoped that I would
not be aboard this plane. I actually hoped against hope, since
there was no other Air India ATR-42 in sight. Why did I resent
this? Ah, I have flown on an old Air India ATR-42 in the
Alliance Air colours before (DEL-JAI, January 2010). and wanted
to fly one in the new livery.

I went down two levels to the bus gates 42 A, B and C. Gate 42 B
had a Jet Airways flight to Jaipur departing from it, followed by
a flight to Udaipur, followed by a Kingfisher Airlines flight to
Jabalpur - my destination! The Air India flight was to depart
from Gate 42C. I was disappointed at not seeing too many working
power-ports in the Gate 42 hold area. I made do with one beside
an empty airlines counter, beside a very noisy crowd of Americans
on their way to Udaipur. We boarded the bus on time, which took
us towards...no guesses, VT-ABB (sometimes termed as
the `powerful' plane, after the Swedish power giant ABB). In
front of us, the new runway 11-29 was being used for both
take-offs and landings. A Global Supply Systems B744F landed,
followed by a Finnair A330 in the new livery, a Turkmenistan
Boeing 737, and a Speedbird British Airways B777-200ER - among
interesting planes. I was the first to alight from the bus. As I
headed excitedly towards the internal stairs (the ATR-42 has its
internal stairs on the inside of the rear left door - the main
entrance/exit), I noticed the Captain doing a visual inspection
of the plane. Captain Ashok Chaudhary was in command today, and
was in an amiable mood. I wished him good morning, he smiled back
and ascended the stairs. The instructions say that the stairs
must not have more than one person ascending on them, at a time.
I wanted for the Captain, and rushed to my seat, 03D. The plane
wore a tired look in the old Alliance Air livery from the
outside. The inside was no different.



The seats had the new Air India ochre-and-vermillion coloured
covers. Though the plane was relatively neat and clean - the
plastic surfaces and the upholstery too, the plane showed her
age. The plastic had a few cracks, and the seat 03D reclined
without provocation. The windows had scratches, and were quite
translucent. Captain Chaudhary came into the cabin and announced
that there would be a slight delay as someone had been
off-loaded, and his baggage was being identified. The well-built
jolly senior gentleman then joked around with a few passengers
before going back in to the cabin. The loads were moderate - I
counted 30 passengers out of a maximum possible number of 42.

Seat 03D has a good view of the right propeller and...is quite a
noisy seat!



There was the usual pulsation one associates with this type, as
we waited for a while after push-back, and were directed to the
main runway 10-28, to take off towards the east. It was raining
moderately, and we made a noisy take-off, climbed over JNU, and
turned right over IIT Delhi.

Yes, I was hungry, as usual.
The initial offering was a bottle of water - before take-off.
As soon as the seat belt sign was switched off, the two members
of the cabin crew came with a small bottle of lemonade, and a
small tray with a croissant, and a brownie. I hesitantly bit into
the croissant, to be in for a pleasant surprise. While the
croissant itself was not warm (Air India Regional's ATR-42s
perhaps to not have ovens), it had a good helping of mozzarella
cheese on the inside, with some pieces of shredded coriander
leaves. The walnut brownie was simply delicious. Generously
spiced with small walnut pieces, the brownie was moist, not too
oily, and very tasty. Having some of the fire in my belly
quenched with this offering, I sat down to work on my laptop.

No guesses as to what the last line implied. I dozed off almost
immediately. The feature-less white clouds did not have much to
offer in terms of the view outside, so I did not miss much. When
I woke up, the landing announcement had been made, and the view
outside was just fantastic - it was all emerald green. I had
heard a lot about the great weather in Jabalpur at this time of
the year, and was looking forward to it. Captain Chaudhary made a
feather-touch landing on the runway - we hardly felt anything!
We had landed with a lot of runway length to spare.
When he came out, I thanked him for such a marvellous landing -
he smiled, and simply laughed it off, saying that it was a fluke.
He spoke to a few other passengers around as well, and was the
last-but-one to deplane (with me just behind him). It was 22
degrees centigrade outside, and there were occassional sprays of
fine rain. Great weather! My attention was diverted by Captain
Chaudhary calling out to the ground staff, ``ok, where is my rishwat
(bribe)?'' The smiles on the faces of the two ground personnel
and the ensuing conversation told me that the `bribe' was
actually a steaming cup of tea, as an order for 6 cups of tea
(two pilots, two cabin crew, two ground handlers) was soon under
way. The captain was not done, ``Ah, I have parked just in
front of the Kingfisher ATR - I will not allow them to take off
before me!'' The slight delay at Delhi had meant the Kingfisher
flight taking off before us, and landing first - this was what he
had referred to. This cheerful gentleman is a pleasure to fly with!

I was to leave these pristine surroundings the very next day.
My return itinerary was to be the following:

Set out 24 Jul (Sun) for New Delhi from Jabalpur
AI 9808: Air India (ATR-42) [Seat: 03A; PNR: Y9JJR]
Jabalpur (JLR) - New Delhi (DEL)
[12:55 pm - 02:55 pm]

I had started out well in time, so the Air India SMS telling me
that the scheduled time of arrival had been pushed back by an
hour - meant I would be working in the small but functional
Jabalpur Airport. This is also called the Dumna airport, after
the area in which this is located. The weather was nice: cool,
with minor fine showers occassionally. The weather at Delhi or
Jabalpur was not an issue - the plane had come in late from
Kulu's Bhuntar airport (KUU: an airport I haven't visited since
in 1981, when I flew in there on an Indian Airlines HAL-748, with
Captain Suresh in command - I remember the pleasant flight from
Chandigarh's old airport, and the very smooth touchdown into
Bhuntar.) Apparently, bad weather in Kulu had contributed to the
delay. Here is a view of the check-in area inside the Dumna
airport:



Jabalpur is a very small airport with 3 flights a day (circa July
2011): two Kingfisher flights from the big two cities DEL
(morning) and BOM (evening), and one Air India flight (morning).
There is not even a snack joint in the terminal. Yet, all
passengers were served tea and biscuits from the little shelf
outside the building, that serves as the only source of edible
items available in a radius of a few kilometres! This is a nice
gesture from Air India - more often than not, delays mean
passengers directed to snack/meal joints in whatever airport they
are in, or snack boxes brought in. (At the Thiruvananthapuram
airport in 2008 early May, The Wife and I were amazed to see food
boxes being distributed even as the plane in question just
touched down.) The security check was quite thorough and
comprehensive, conducted by smart men and women in smart nice
light khaki apparel, with one pot-bellied medium-aged man (in
the usual dark khaki clothing) being a notable exception. There
is one departure gate, and two Eicher mini-buses wait to fetch
passengers to/from the apron area (surprisingly some distance
away from the terminal). A Reliance aviation Eicher truck does
the re-fuelling. The waiting hall has quite a few power ports
(both two- as well as three-point ones), for charging mobile
phones and laptops. We heard a sudden drone, and...it was VT-ABB
again, in the old Alliance Air colours. But Captain Ashok
Chaudhary was in command again!

We boarded without much ado.
The plane had come in on runway 24-06 again (as in my onward
trip). I counted 29 passengers this time in the flight. The wind
directions had not changed, and we took off on 24-06 again. We
had a different set of cabin crew, two cheerful ladies with
something close to an entire service term separating them, in
terms of age. We took off again, with a lot of runway length
remaining. It was quite overcast, but once we reached cruising
altitude and the seat belt signs were switched off, I realised
that most windows did not have shades! Dainik Jagaran came to the
rescue - this newspaper acted as my sunscreen, as I turned on my
laptop to work. No, I did not doze off, this time. Of course, I
was a bit hungry. I had come to a prominent city of the state of
Madhya Pradesh, but my Madhya Pradesh (`Central State') was
prominently in a relatively empty state, and loudly clamouring
for some inputs! Food, of course.
The catering on this flight seemed to have been done in Delhi.
In addition to the lemonade prior to take-off, the snack tray
served promptly after the seat-belt sign had been turned off,
had a three-layer brown-and-white bread cheese-and-marmalade
sandwich, and a dry fruit cake. Both were passable in terms of
taste, but I did not allow the opportunity to pass! I devoured
both of them, and then sat back to work.

Captain Chaudhary again came out and chatted around with the
passengers mid-flight. He made a very smooth landing at Delhi, on
the new runway, and brought the plane to a halt on the tarmac, at
the `small aircraft' enclosure, which lies between the Air India
domestic wing, and the private airlines part.
Here is a view of the engine from my seat, 03A:



As expected, we got a bus gate. Here is a view of the inside:



This is strategically located, to minimise the time and distance
one has to walk to get to the baggage belts. IGI Airport T3
almost always has a pleasant surprise in terms of the greenery
inside. Here is a view of some plants:



The baggage came out fairly quickly, and very soon, I was on my
way back home in a pre-paid taxi.
---
Links to my previous TRs, in reverse chronological order:

14. The Fish-Eye Beckons! Madurai, on Air India. Jul 2011
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12136.html

13. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 3: Monino!
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12091.html

12. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The Central Museum
of the Armed Forces
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12016.html

11. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 1: The Overall Trip
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11717.html

10. The City of Lakes: Mother's Heart, Heart of the Motherland
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11556.html

9. Mostly Indoors, in Indore:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11533.html

8. Inter-metro Shuttling on AI: DEL-BOM on AI810, BOM-DEL on AI888
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11449.html

7. On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11160.html

6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10986.html

5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10809.html

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
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Spiderguy252
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Joined: 10 Aug 2007
Posts: 4257
Location: Indian Ocean

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another good one, always loved them prop rides.

Just a general question on all your TRs- how is it that you have them formatted a little more vertically than the rest of us? Do you voluntarily press the 'enter' key sooner than the line actually ends?
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me111993
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fabulous! I love reading your TR's! Very Happy
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for your kind words, Varun and Rishul!
It is ironical that the rest of this mail has a common reply, since it concerns both of you. How?
Varun: the strange `aspect ratio' comes from my being in the past. Right from the days of the 25x80 text terminals, I have been using `vi' (and its later incarnations vim/gvim) as my favourite text editor, with a wrap margin of 15. I still use good'ol text windows for typing, text-based email, and am a bit tech-challenged.
Rishul: looking at your posts, I often noticed something similar - you had then mentioned that it was due to your not-too-wide opera window on your mobile device. I had thought that it was for the same reason!
For smaller posts (like this one), I allow the text to wrap wherever it does so, naturally.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely report, great fun to read. Seems like the captain is a real asset for AI - personable, friendly and able to land the plane smoothly. Hopefully he sticks on with AI, and AI expands it's prop fleet to do a proper job of feeder/ secondary city traffic.
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot, Nimish - yes, it was nice seeing a very senior commander being so young at heart, and complete in every aspect a passenger could dream of!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What can I say another great report keep it going.

Sri_Bom
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me111993
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Posts: 3215
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Sumantra, the font issue happens in my opera mini when i'm copying and pasting stuff from another website, otherwise it doesn't bother me as much. I'm so used to using my E5 that even when my laptop's around me, i prefer using my phone. (like i'm now :- ))

Nimish wrote:
Lovely report, great fun to read. Seems like the captain is a real asset for AI - personable, friendly and able to land the plane smoothly. Hopefully he sticks on with AI, and AI expands it's prop fleet to do a proper job of feeder/ secondary city traffic.



Most captains are Fantastic! You very rarely get a grumpy guy sitting up there!

Earlier this year, which coming back to MAA from AMD I happened to choose S2 (AMD-BLR-CJB-MAA), the transit at CJB was 1:20 mins and I was the only transit passenger they had, believe me, I spent almost an hour in the cockpit with the 2 pilots, had the most incredible time! + a sandwich + coffee complementary!

Now both of them are very good friends, and both do the routing - AMD-BLR-CJB-MAA-CCU (they call it the "bharat darshan route" a lot, with this route now operated by a 737-900ER, I can't wait to do this routing again!

Equally friendly guys in Kingfisher too, 1 in the night after a 2 hour delayed flight, but who cares, they'll always be awesome to you!
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Causal Determinism : We are hardwired to need answers. The Caveman who heard a rustle in the bushes and checked out to see what it was, lived longer than the guy, who assumed it was just a breeze.

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Optimus.Prime
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely TR there sumantra, as always!

And by the looks of it, you did enjoy flying on our 42 - "my pride and joy"!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sri_bom wrote:
What can I say another great report keep it going.

Thanks a lot for the kind words, Srinivas!

Optimus.Prime wrote:
And by the looks of it, you did enjoy flying on our 42 - "my pride and joy"!

Captain, thanks a lot. In fact, every time I have set foot on an Air India ATR-42 (only three times thus far, I haven't flown this type as much as I would have liked to, and unfortunately, none in the new Flying Swan livery), I have had my ears pricking to hear your name in an announcement from the flight deck. I have had to be content with just your wonderful photographs you post on various forums.

me111993 wrote:
Most captains are Fantastic! You very rarely get a grumpy guy sitting up there!

Rishul, I certainly envy your S2 and IT experiences!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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flightgearpilot
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice read! Smile I've always loved flying in the turboprops and to quaint airports that have 3 flights a day! Best thing about flying to small airports is that typically they do not have ILS and landing is VFR, which means the pilot overflies the runway and comes back in a teardrop landing, offering great views of the tarmac.

And a fellow vi user, that too! Quite an endangered breed these days..
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot, Professor. It is nice to see you active on the forum after quite some time. For small airports, I have not yet seen much of the overfly, except for perhaps once, at IXM, in the early 2000s. This time's JLR trip did not have an overlfy as far as I remember, but then, I was sleeping until descent was announced. As for `editorial' preference of the text kind, I guess vi is quite powerful, and regulars often swear by it (and not `at it' Smile ).
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Optimus.Prime
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Captain, thanks a lot. In fact, every time I have set foot on an Air India ATR-42 (only three times thus far, I haven't flown this type as much as I would have liked to, and unfortunately, none in the new Flying Swan livery), I have had my ears pricking to hear your name in an announcement from the flight deck. I have had to be content with just your wonderful photographs you post on various forums.


On a few flights ex-CCU you might get to hear me, certainly not ex-DEL!
Also, Glad you liked the photos!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Optimus.Prime wrote:
On a few flights ex-CCU you might get to hear me, certainly not ex-DEL!
Also, Glad you liked the photos!

I'll look forward to official assignments in cities reachable on Air India Regional ATR flights from CCU, now! Yes, we like your photography work!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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