A Travellerspoint blog

November 2006

My Itchy Little Feet

Part II


The adventure began from here!

Well let me take back to that day again when my Boss called and asked me to fly to Kolkat. I was dead broke, my bank account showed meager 1500/- cash! I had no time to ponder about by finances. I had to travel. The tickets were no issue as they were booked on credit; I did a wise thing by calling the hotel where I was to stay and confirmed the fact that the hotel accepted credit card. So this made the 1500/- cash quite a big amount.

As I handed the credit card, the bellboy said that they would not accept credit card and I need to pay cash. My irritation, which otherwise remains passive amplified! I took the credit card and hurried towards the elevator. I wanted to speak to the manager. The elevator was out of order. I walked down three floors and as I reached the last ten stairs I was horrified to see the entire reception counter submerged! The water went knee deep and the people on the ground floor rooms had been shifted elsewhere. There was no electricity either. I had to report at the airport by 9.00 a.m and it was past seven thirty now. The nearest ATM was in Minto Park but there the water reached up till the waist. I was advised not to go. Time was running out and I decided to cancel my flight. That was the only thing I could do lest I miss my flight and burn some cash for not canceling the tickets too. But then how do I call! My mobile was not working; there was no electricity; the telephones went dead and I could not move out either. The bellboy I guess could feel the dilemma I was in and he handed me his cell phone. He said he would charge five bucks per call – outgoing or incoming and I agreed blindly to this deal! Besides the rickety cell phone with the most astounding ring tones I ever heard there was no other way I could communicate. I called home; boss (well in this order only) and airlines office to cancel my flight. And in the mean time the corridor on the first floor was turned into a reception counter. The printer was not squealing; rather every work was being done manually. Many got stranded. Some acted smart and checked out but they could never make it to the station or the airport and when they came back even the rooms were occupied! The plight of everyone was dismal. Good that I had not checked out. I knew I had the room to spend the night; yet I was tensed, as I didn’t know how to make my payments in cash! The dilemma still persisted. I went back to my room and I actually I had done a good thing by saving a bucket of water! I don’t know why I did! But I knew this is the only bucket of water I had to use for the next twenty-four hours! Someone knocked my door and it was just another bellboy who came to take order for lunch. Well! Since the kitchen was almost under water the lunch was the basic rice, dal and veggies. I tried to get some sleep but nothing could make my eyes or my mind rest. I went back to the first floor; peeped through the window. The level of water had not gone down nor the rains stopped. The Manager did not seem busy and we started chatting. In the due course I told the manger that in no way I could make cash payment until and unless I swam to the ATM counter at Minto Park! The manager devised one option and since there was nothing else I could do I agreed to his suggestion. He said that if I trusted him with my credit card he could swipe it elsewhere on his way back home and return it to me the next morning. Well! I know it’s not healthy to trust strangers you started speaking just ten minutes ago with your credit card but then what the heck!

I went back to my room, got my card and handed it to the Manager. It was late evening and almost everyone had gathered in the corridor and it seemed like we were one excursion team! Candles were lit everywhere. Every room was sanctioned two candles but I smuggled four. I cannot sleep when the room is pitch dark; I hoped the four would last me as long as I didn’t fell fast asleep. Dinner was no better. And I made it early to bed for I expected the worse for the next morning.

The next morning the knock on my door was my wake up call. I opened the door and saw one of the bellboys (who had given me his cell phone) with tea and my credit card and the settled bills. Suddenly everything seemed to fall in places. The rains hadn’t stopped, but the level of water had subsided. I knew I had to walk on the mud-spattered and grimy water hence taking a shower was out of question. Still in my shorts and tee and slippers I swaggered towards the main road and I negotiated with a cab driver to go to the airport. The driver asked me what time the flight was and I replied I didn’t have a ticket! I picked my bags and hopped in the cab. It took me around forty-five minutes to reach the airport. I checked the entire airline counters and booked the earliest flight back to Guwahati. As I handed my credit card I prayed and hope in the back of my mind nothing would go wrong and boy! It didn’t! I walked in though the security, checked in and as I looked at my watch I still had an hour at my disposal. I ordered for a cup of coffee and as I was waiting I for the coffee to arrive I realized that I was still tee/shorts & sandals clad! My baggage had already been checked; marked and sealed and there was nothing I could do but board the flight without trying to look too conscious!

As I took my seat and looked up The Telegraph it read that Kolkata witnessed heaviest downpour since 1971! I didn’t really want to read that news. I was trapped for twenty-four hours in hotel with my life thrown out of gear.

As the airplane ascended I reclined and closed my eyes and got calculating about my next training session scheduled to be in Nagaland within the next two days….

Posted by incommunicado 06:57 Archived in India Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

My Itchy little feet



The best part about my job is that it lets me go to places, which I would have never even remotely thought about traveling otherwise. These travels have been either an hour’s drive from my domicile or at other times have been one unending and meandering expedition. Whatever be the roads like or whatever be season, one thing which has left me perplexed is that every place has it own beauty – it’s just another matter that people don’t observe or realize.

Travels have been ample. Some have been adventurous, some dull; and some left me gripping and mad. In three months I have traveled more than I had in the thirty years of my existence! They say business and pleasure do not mix. And sure it doesn’t. But then to look the other way round if I keep my work just to work and try to enjoy the rest of whatever little time I get; it sure becomes a travel so much like me – a freebee… a soul with itchy feet!

Kolkata was one classic example of a roller- coaster ride.
My boss called me one morning and asked me to get my bags packed and check with our travel agent for the earliest possible flight. Within the next twenty-four hours I was airborne. We touched down exactly forty-five minutes later and I was in Kolkata after nearly a decade. As I passed the streets everything had changed. The picture of Kolkata I had in my mind was certainly not the one I was seeing. Well off course for one factor that remains constant – the traffic snarls – that is perhaps one antagonizing phase of this colossal metro.

The driver took a long time to locate the 9 Shakespeare Sarani. As we waited in one long jam the driver popped out his head and asked a passer by in the local dialect where exactly was the 9 Shakespeare Sarani. The passer by looked at me and asked “Aap ko Brook House jana hai?” (Do you want to go to Brook House?) & I affirmed. He explained the driver something. The driver nodded his head and looked at me and said, “Madam, aap ne pehle kyun nahin kaha aapko Hindustan Lever office jana hia”?! (Madam why didn’t you tell me before that you want to go to the Hindustan Lever office?)

I felt like an idiot for reasons I may perhaps never comprehend! But nevertheless!

I reached 9 Shakespeare Sarani and almost immediately I was in the most posh, stylish & sleek office. This is the second office I’ve even seen so very chic. One was the Hughes office in New Delhi. I went there when I was doing my apprenticeship during my mass communication days – a story I will tell some other rainy day! The whole day went by and I didn’t even realize that it was time to call it a day. I was to stay in Camac Street; the hotel booked by the travel desk guys of the Kolkata office. It’s just a five-minute walk from the office. I reached the hotel and was dog-tired. My limbs I knew wanted to relax. I was not here to relax and I had only fifteen minutes in hand to freshen up and get going for the mega programme. Minto Park is again a ten-minute walk from my hotel and I trotted down the aisle rapidly. The awards function was a long one and I excused myself by nine. Ma’am (my boss) understood that I need to unwind and she let me go with a reminder that I should be back at 9 Shakespeare Sarani sharp ten the next day.

The next day I woke up and found a slight drizzle. I had not carried an umbrella. I waited in the lobby of my hotel for a few minutes but there was no respite and the minutes were passing by. I thought of taking a cab but that would not settle my state of affairs as the entire passage is a one-way route and the five-minute would become a nerve wrecking half an hour! So I decided to walk down no matter if I got faintly drenched.

By the time I walked out of office the drizzle was a downpour now. I wanted to rush back to the hotel but the aroma of the kebabs and rolls lured me to stop by in of the take away counters. I looked at the menu and ordered one double egg, chicken and cheese roll. This was sure indulgence but then this is again something I am up-to everyday.

I was soaking wet by the time I arrived the hotel. I asked the receptionist to get the bills ready, as I would be out of the place early next day. I waited for an hour or so but the bills did not arrive. I called up the reception and I was informed that I could settle it the next morning before leaving. No! I insisted that I settle my accounts now, as I don’t like last minute snags. But I was moderately pacified that I could settle the bills the next day.

I woke up much before the bellboy came (he had assured that he would give me a wake-up call at six thirty) to knock my door with the bed tea. I asked him to get my bills while in the mean time I freshened up and got ready. The bills came and I handed out my credit card.

Posted by incommunicado 05:55 Archived in India Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

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