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Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11

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

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 10:05 am    Post subject: Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11 Reply with quote

Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11

http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12333.html

I debated hard over the title of this trip report.
I had woken up at 02:45 am - a rather unearthly hour, to be in
time to catch the Air India flight to Nagpur.
As my senses incredulously responded to the
alarm-at-that-ungodly-hour,
some parts of my brain cajoled me into action.
The senses react well to the usual 05:00 am alarm that I set.
They promptly goad the hands into action,
to switch off the alarm,
switch off all other brain functions,
and go back to sleep.
As the realisation dawned on my sleepy visage that it was not the
usual day, I sleepily looked at the time, and woke up with a start.
The sleepiness vanished with the sudden start to the day.
I got ready quickly, and went back into the bed
room, where I jealously looked at The Wife (`TW') and Junior
(`Jr') sleeping peacefully. Strange thoughts crossed my mind.
Was I like Siddhartha Gautama, looking at his wife and son?
Nothing could be worse as a comparison, as I was hardly intent on
anything close to enlightenment, or seeking the truth,
whatever form it may be in.
I chose not to turn on the lights (`enlightenment'), else it may
turn out to be the moment of truth for me, as they say.
What if Jr woke up?
The transliteration from the chaste vernacular says,
`The wild look best in the wilderness; and
kids, with their mothers', or its corollary,
`kids, in their sleep'.

While I went about the motions (er...bad pun), I needed a
bit more time (and perhaps, some caffeine too), to get into a
fully working state. I went about the motions on auto-pilot.
My sleepy brain refused to be cajoled into thoughtful action.
I wanted to think of a suitable title for this trip report.
For this, I needed every neuron to fire.
Nagpur is a city one naturally associates with one of the main
produces of the Vidarbha region, oranges. Going Bananas?
No, this would not make any sense.
But then, neither do the contents of my trip reports.
To Orange land?
This would be too bland.
Orange August?
No, it would not serve as an august beginning to a somewhat
bland trip report.
Oranje?
No, this would bring thoughts of Holland/The Netherlands - my
sleepy fingers typed in `The Netherworld' before something told
me that what I had typed was not quite correct.
Citrus Citations?
Now, my tummy was signalling that it needed attention, in case I
let the thought of food items regurgitate in my mind.
Tired over the above random musings, I settled for a combination
of some of the above, and settled down on the current title,
hoping that this would help the storm brewing up in the form of
hunger pangs, tide over.

The taxi came in at 03:45 am on the dot, and the friendly man
behind the wheel asked me why I was 15 minutes early today. I
take a few 6 am flights and trains, and usually ensure that he is
as sleep deprived as me - this time, by an extra quarter hour.
We spend towards IGI Airport's Terminal 3 in the wet environs.
Delhi has the incredible occurrences of water logging right on
top of flyovers, and large speeding trucks are not particularly
welcome to pass by. The vehicle ended up absolutely sloshed up in
a muddy bath in one such instance - with the entire windscreen
going blank for a few seconds.
T3 wore a somewhat empty look.
There were only a handful of flights around this time.
The date was 20 August, 2011.
The excitement of seeing common Air India counters - which I had
experienced the last time I flew out of T3 (04 August, 2011, on a
trip to Kolkata), was dampened by seeing the familiar sight of
counters dedicated to each flight. However, there were few people
in the terminal at that time, and the people manning the counters
were quite efficient, and there were no long lines to be seen
anywhere around. I guess this must be a time-based occurrence -
they perhaps have common counters during rush hour timings, and
revert back to the dedicated counters at other times, though the
logic clearly beats me. I add here that the situation changed for
the better very soon, this was circa August, 2011.

IGIA T3 seems to have new things almost each time I visit the place.
Full length display panels had come up at the departures
level. Here is a bad quality snap, from my cellphone camera.



There was more on the walls:



One wouldn't want to comment on the aesthetics,
but money makes the mare run, I guess.
It was quite dark outside, so I could not take too many pictures.
Here is a picture of the rain soaked tarmac, from the meeting
point of the private airlines part, and the Air India part, on
the departures level.


I waited in the holding area for gate 32, which was the last gate
at that end of the terminal. I had experienced the gate just
before this, on my previous Kolkata trip.

My itinerary for this leg was as follows:

Set out 20 Aug (Sat) for Nagpur from New Delhi
AI 469: Air India (A319) [Seat: 04A; PNR: Z59SS]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - Mana Airport, Raipur -
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (Sonegaon Airport), Nagpur
New Delhi (DEL) - Raipur (RPR) - Nagpur (NAG)
[05:50 am - 07:30 am, 08:05 am - 08:45 am]

The Jetlite S2-750 flight to Raipur announced boarding at 04:55 am.
We were heading towards Raipur too, albeit a bit later.
We boarded the plane about 10 minutes behind schedule. It was
quite dark outside, and I missed noting down the registration of
the new A319 we boarded. Captain V. K. Singh and Captain Preeti
Singh were in command. We took off from the new runway 11-29
toward the east, and made a right turn very soon. The loads were
about 80% in economy (Y). There were two passengers on the 8
Business Class (J) seats.

The reader may well be familiar with what would happen next.
Needless to say, just as the seat belt sign was switched off
after reaching cruising altitude,
I was eagerly waiting for an announcement. Which one?
Yes, this came in quickly.
The announcement said that breakfast would be served on the
flight. As water is for parched throats, the sights, sounds,
smells, and even the mention of food - does the same for me.
Air India did not disappoint.
The breakfast started around 06:35 am with a fruit bowl, which
had slices of papaya, melon, and pineapple, with a small cherry
on top. The bun tasted fresh (though nothing special - but how
can a bun be anything else?), with the usual accompaniments of
butter and a mixed fruit preserve. The main course on the non-veg
platter had a nice `hara-bhara kabab/kebab' a green vegetable
mince, lightly fried just so. There was a large fluffy omlette,
with a subtle potato preparation. No, not the usual
french fries/freedom fries/finger chips - as the sinful item is
called, depending on what meridian of longitude one is on. This
was a preparation of small potato parallels. Ah - I do come back
to latitudes and longitudes, or parallels and meridians, if you
please. No, not that I remember some geography from my school
days - the geography of my face had changed on seeing the food.
Changed for the better, of course.
The potato parallels had been cooked with a hint of fine and
tender Methi(Fenugreek) stirred in. Not too much, lest the
bitterness induce a similar feeling in the mood of the eater -
after all, many people do not like bitter items such as the
above, and of course, Karela/Bitter Gourd, or Neem/Margosa
leaves. The subtle bitter taste of the the hint of
Methi(Fenugreek) complemented the fluffy omlette very well. The
presence of these two items of South American descent (potatoes
and tomatoes) reminded me of my friend from Bengaluru, who
referred to a book whose title transliterated as, `South America
in Your Stomach'. Yes, these two items have almost become staple
food for most Indian households - and coming to think of it, they
came into India only with the Portuguese.
Needless to say, my friend shares my love for food.
Yes, the love for food only, not his food.
Neither do I.
The gluttons that we are,
we end up having more than our prescribed portions!
A very ordinary coffee completed the breakfast.

The intermediate halt was at Raipur, where the captain made a
smooth landing on runway 24. The old terminal was in operation,
with construction on a new terminal visible some distance behind
the old terminal. The old terminal:



Here is a view of the control tower:



I watched as almost half the plane emptied out,
as passengers disembarked at Raipur. A slightly lower number of
passengers boarded on the plane. As we taxied out towards runway
24 for take-off again, the new terminal building came into view.
This will be a large glass-and-steel structure, with an
impressive roof design - which looked (at least, at this stage of
the construction) a bit different from the numerous other
terminals being constructed in airports across the country. The
plane made a powerful take-off over the emerald green monsoon
surroundings, rarely punctuated by the wet red soil. When the
plan reached cruising altitude, the usual bi-lingual announcement
came up. The captain had switched off the seat belt signs, but
from a safety viewpoint, it would be prudent to keep it on during
the flight. It would take us 40 minutes to get to Nagpur.
[Pause].
If you need anything, please do not hesitate to inform us - we
will be at your service.
All seemed right except... except - the pause!
Yes, this is where the usual food announcement is made.
While I was certainly not hungry, I was a trifle disappointed.
I set down to work, as usual, when some metallic sounds told my
senses that a food cart was making its way up the aisle.
I could hardly believe my ears.
And other senses, as well.
The tension was palpable.
I chose not to look up, lest I be disappointed.
Just then, a pleasant young gentleman came up to me, and asked if
I would like to have a bottle of lemon drink.
Would I not?
As a pacifier is to an irritable little kid,
so was the lemon drink for me!
I set down back to work again, albeit in a better mood.

We came in to the Nagpur airport on runway 32, with the
air force part on the left (I was on the left side of the plane),
and the derelict Boeing 720B to the right of the plane. Nagpur's
airport is better known as the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
International Airport, or simply as the Sonegaon airport. The
last time I had landed in Nagpur was en route to Nanded.

http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10169.html

This time, the situation was completely complementary.
The air force area was completely empty, and I barely got a
glimpse of the 720B. Moreover, we got the new terminal this time!

It on this trip in August 2011 that I first sighted a
Jetlite plane with the `Jetlite' titles:





There are two aero-bridges, and the new terminal building has a
cheerful appearance - there is a huge lot of natural light in the
glass-and-steel structure. The two pictures below show the
baggage claim area, from two angles.





The baggage came out quickly, and I was received by an old
friend, who works at VNIT, Nagpur. This ensured that I would be
able to photograph the gift from the Indian Air Force in the VNIT
campus, a `Flogger'. The registration number of this plane is
SM224, and the board proclaims this to be a Mig-23 which last saw
active action in the Kargil war. Here are two pictures of this
aircraft.





The beautiful VNIT campus has a bust of Dr. Mokshagundam
Visvesvaraiyya. Here is a picture of the rain-washed area. Do not
miss the cat resting nearby (at the right bottom of the
photograph), enjoying the company of the great man, in the nice
ambiance of one of India's best Engineering institutions. The
Hindi language has an expression which transliterates as `wet
cat'. However, the contented expression on the cat's visage
hardly indicated such a situation.



My friend also took me in the late evening to the Ambazari lake -
a very prominent picnic spot in the city of Nagpur. This is a
beautiful spot, with the vast expanse of water in the elevated
area, with a stiff cool breeze blowing right then. The name
comes from the Amba Mandir (Temple of The Mother), and a small
stream waterfall (the `zar'/jharNA), which is supposed to supply
water to the lake. This is very close to the large, beautiful and
green VNIT campus.

The return trip the next morning saw me entering the departures
part of the new terminal building for the first time. There are
quite a few check-in counters, and the domestic airside area is
moderately-sized, with only three power-ports. While the terminal
is new, the maintenance (or the lack of it) shows up a bit -
clearly rough around the edges. The main waiting
hall has three bus gates. This has a view of the aircraft
parking area, with the view cluttered with the waiting buses.
The first floor has a nice view of the action on the tarmac.



Our plane arrived on the dot, in fact, a good 5 minutes before the
scheduled arrival time. This was CT, the `scan' plane (VT-SCT),
with Captain Avantika in command. We took off along the CAT-1
runway 32 and overflew the Ambazari lake as we entered a wispy
cloud cover. I had seen a moderate number of people boarding at
Nagpur, but on boarding had discovered a nearly full flight.
There were two passengers in Business Class (J) when I had
boarded the plane - I was one of the first to do so. The
itinerary for this leg was as follows:

Set out 21 Aug (Sun) for New Delhi from Nagpur
AI 469: Air India (A319) [Seat: 04F; PNR: Z6T0Z]
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (Sonegaon Airport),
Nagpur - IGI Airport T3, New Delhi
Nagpur (NAG) - New Delhi (DEL)
[09:20 am - 10:45 am]

The food on this leg was quite interesting. I was not my usual
hungry self, as I had taken a light breakfast at Nagpur itself.
However, on seeing the Air India offering, I could not resist
myself. There was an ordinary cheese sandwich, followed by the
main course. This had a small vada, with a nice pulses-and-spices
filling inside. The next item was tart-like, with a very thin
crust, and the scooped-out volume filled with a very tasty
combination of light cream, some potato mash, and a bit of
spinach. The chicken tikka (skewered pieces) were very well
marinated, and cooked just right. The dessert was a pie piece,
again with a very thin crust/covering, with the inside being a
lovely concoction of mashed boiled apples, figs, cashew and
almonds. This was heavenly. I opted for the tea this time (the
coffee comes in later, and I did not want to write about a
`bland, tasteless and ordinary instant coffee'). The tea was the
usual tea-bag kind, with an intermediate consistency: neither
too strong, nor too light. Nor did it have the tired taste as I
experienced on my last Air India trip.

Captain Avantika made a smooth low-speed landing on the new
runway 11-29 coming in from the west, the Dwarka side,
and we waited a bit on the tarmac before going to
an aerobridge very close to the Jet Airways area of IGI T3.
The luggage came out very promptly, and I set out for home (All roads
lead to home) in a pre-paid taxi.
---
Links to my previous TRs, in reverse chronological order:

17. To the City of Joy and back, on Air India: Aug'11
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12238.html

16. To Chennai, Mar'12 with a Celebrity Captain!
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12196.html
(This is out of sequence owing to sheer excitement, and nothing else!)

15. Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12157.html

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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justbala
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting pics from my Alma Mater!! : Brings back nostalgic memories!! Smile
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting, seems like a routine uneventful trip. How were the crew on board and how was the ground handling?
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bala, this is wonderful to hear! I was there again this year, 21 - 22 Jan, 2012. Unfortunately, I did not get much chance to click more pictures of the beautiful campus - it was a very hurried visit. I will post a trip report on this.

Nimish wrote:
Thanks for posting, seems like a routine uneventful trip. How were the crew on board and how was the ground handling?

Thanks, Nimish. As someone who has been flying the national carriers for quite some time, I have found the overall change to be so nice, that I hardly notice it now-a-days. With the new planes at both Indian Airlines as well as the erstwhile Air India, came a new set of cabin crew as well, and it has been a real pleasure to see the old grumpy people magically transform into pleasant people. Air India has more than its share of troubles, but the positive change in service, from a traveller's perspective, only bodes well for it. Of course, there has been the odd person who was still grumpy, or at times, obnoxious. Yes, I experienced this on check-in at CCU (no less) on 24 March, 2012. I will write about this in a future trip report - I have quite a few in the pipeline. I have now got down to posting a report on bog-standard routes and bog-standard flights (in addition to quite a few exotic ones, no doubt!) - but I guess it is the excitement that I share with many like-minded members on this forum and others, that makes it all worthwhile. Thanks for your constant encouragement!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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himmat01
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next report.
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its nice trip report with usual Sumantra type pictures! It seems there are quite a few lady pilots in AI fleet. Also Nagpour airport seems to be better equipped than old Kolkata international terminal. That shows how differential airport infra. are all over India. Very Happy
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot, Himmat! I too look forward to your short and witty posts on FB.

sabya99 wrote:
Its nice trip report with usual Sumantra type pictures!

Thanks, Sabyasachi! On a different note, `Sumantra type' pictures mean hazy, fuzzy, defocussed, colour bleed, over-saturation... I guess I am running out of (b)ad-jectives Smile
Cheers, Sumantra.
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me111993
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR Sumantra, thanks a lot for posting!
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sumantra, I really did not mean the quality of your pictures. What I meant was the pictures of Mig 23; it is truely your landmark. Just that picture indicated me that it was your post.You are good at fighter aircraft picture taking. Very Happy
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot, Rishul! You owe us a TR for quite some time, I guess.
Sabyasachi - wow, just a stray visit to an exotic museum in an exotic land makes me...well, thank you, though I am sure I do not deserve the accolades! In this 44 degree Delhi heat, I guess I deserve a lemonade more Smile
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PAL@YWG
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another excellent TR on another Indian city! This one is even crispier in terms of length! I really appreciate your enoromous energy when you commit (to yourself) that how many more TRs you got to write to catch up with the backlog.

I have never been to most of the Indian cities that you travel and post TRs but I am selecting some of them as future travel destinations when time and money will permit Smile

Kepp on writing, Sumantra.
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me111993
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Thanks a lot, Rishul! You owe us a TR for quite some time, I guess.


yeah I do. Sad
one guaranteed the moment I get back from London.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

me111993 wrote:
yeah I do. Sad
one guaranteed the moment I get back from London.

...and can we get greedy? I presume you will cover all legs of the trip, in addition to spotting at some prominent airports there, visiting places of tourist interest all around the UK, and more!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PAL@YWG wrote:
Another excellent TR on another Indian city! This one is even crispier in terms of length! I really appreciate your enoromous energy when you commit (to yourself) that how many more TRs you got to write to catch up with the backlog.
I have never been to most of the Indian cities that you travel and post TRs but I am selecting some of them as future travel destinations when time and money will permit Smile
Kepp on writing, Sumantra.

Mr. Pal, let me express my heartfelt thanks for your constant encouragement. I have admired your memory before - you remember that I have a huge backlog to cover! You have been to far more exciting places than I have, and I eagerly look forward to hear you "dust those SD cards", and pull out yet another magic report from your hat, of the period you spent in the erstwhile USSR!

As for my next report, it will be in three parts, and will cover my 2011 Beijing trip. I went via HKG on both sides, so there will be a bit of spotting there. I also got a chance to visit the Chinese equivalent of the Monino museum near Moscow, the Chinese Aviation Museum at Datangshan, which has quite a few exotic planes which one will simply not find anywhere else in the world. I will report on tourist sites in Beijing itself, and the trip back. This was one amazing trip, and I am looking forward to describing the sights, sounds (and needless to say, the smells and tastes, too Smile ) which I experienced there.
With warm regards,
Sumantra.
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me111993
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
me111993 wrote:
yeah I do. Sad
one guaranteed the moment I get back from London.

...and can we get greedy? I presume you will cover all legs of the trip, in addition to spotting at some prominent airports there, visiting places of tourist interest all around the UK, and more!


Will do! Very Happy
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

me111993 wrote:
Will do! Very Happy

Thanks, Rishul. If you get the time, please do not miss the RAF Museum at Hendon. This is reachable via the Tube, and is a lovely museum. As the name indicates, it has the planes of the RAF. On my last visit to London (2009), it had me completely thrilled. Unfortunately, I only had my analog SLR with me then, and had not debuted with my trip reports. At Heathrow, spotting from inside the old terminals is a big pain, as there aren't too many big panes around, though there are lots of big planes around!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Spiderguy252
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Joined: 10 Aug 2007
Posts: 4257
Location: Indian Ocean

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey - those LEDs showing sport/cricket updates on T3's walls & pillars are quite handy!

Thanks for sharing.
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Yeah.
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spiderguy252 wrote:
Hey - those LEDs showing sport/cricket updates on T3's walls & pillars are quite handy!
Thanks for sharing.

Here is a fellow sport enthusiast pressing the like button to this move by DIAL Smile
Thanks, Varun.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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