Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trip Report

I 'm in New Delhi!! And what a trip. Here's the diary I wrote yesterday;

Chicago to New Delhi
November  7 2011
I’m updating this post from New Delhi, this is what I wrote about my trip to the airport up until the time of landing. My arrival story to follow as I get settled in.

I waited six hours in the Flagship lounge with periodic walks throughout the terminals so that I could stretch my legs. While waiting I tried the chicken noodle soup, didn’t like it. Ate more sushi, liked it a lot. The fruits were great, had no need to try out the booze or wine selection. Got tempted with a beer but my tummy wasn’t feeling great. Maybe it was nerves. I have no idea why but a little bit of me is a bit nervous about going to India. I never get nervous traveling anywhere else so I don’t understand it. I ate a bunch of the raw or pickled ginger from the sushi plate and it helped to settle my stomach quite a bit. Even packed away a bunch of ginger into my back pack. 

3:10pm – walked out the back exit door right into gate 16, our gate. Tons of people everywhere, chaos. Boarding called at 3:15 for first class, getting to the front not easy with all 230 people thinking they’re in first class.  Finally get to the front, then board.  I like my seat, the first class seat on American Airline’s Boeing 777 is excellent and is referred to as the Flagship Suite. The seat swivels 90 degrees to face the window and the desk, the desk is pretty handy for doing all this typing (I’m typing a lot of this now while I have time). When the seat is at 45 degrees it lays flat into a bed at which time the flight attendants lay a mattress topper onto the seat to make it more comfortable. Going to try that later. (sorry for the poor photo qualities but not using the flash on the plane will do this. More photos at the bottom of this posting)

(My seat for the next 14.5 hours)

3:20pm – flight attendant offers me choice of orange juice, water or champagne. I take the oj. Across from my seat on the ottoman is a packet with a pillow, day blanket and comforter. On the desk is the amenity kit with socks, eye shade, ear plugs, tooth paste and brush, hand lotion, lip balm and a pen

(Amenity Kit)

(comforter and day blanket on my ottoman)

3:30pm – Attendant comes by and give me a NY Times, a pair of pajamas, slippers, a menu and a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones. 

3:50pm – we push away from the gate on time.

3:57pm – wheels up, we’re in the air. Our trip to Delhi will be 7477 miles and take 13.5 hours flying over Iceland, Russia and back down into India. 

Here’s the menu for first class, and for anyone traveling in business class (my parents next week) the menu is the same, not sure about the appetizer though.

To Start – Warm Mixed Nuts or Marinated cheese antipasto (I had both)
Appetizer –Choice of one
 Smoked salmon accompanied by capers, red onion and sour cream
Herb lamb loin served with a fruit chickpea salad
(I had a little of both, the lamb was outstanding)
The Salad Cart – Fresh seasonal greens and an assortment of fresh vegetables offered with pepper cream dressing or premium extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar topped with optional cajun style roasted chicken breast .
Main Course – choice of one
Patrani Maachali – Halibut marinated in coconut and mint, steamed in a banana leaf served with lemon rice and saag paneer (a triad of mustard greens, spinach and fenugreek greens finished with ginger and butter). (this is the one I had)
Kumbh Muttar Masala – Button mushrooms and green peas sautéed with tomatoes, cardamom and cloves pairedwith coconut rice and beans thoren (sautéed beans in curry leaf and coconut).
Chicken with Balsamic Chocolate Sauce – Savory chicken breast with balsamic white chocolate sauce, asparagus and pumpkin cranberry rissole.
Orange Chipotle Shrimp – Orange barbeque chipotle shrimp served with sautéed haricots verts, roasted peppers and basmati rice with corn.
Dessert – Choice of one
Ice cream Sunday – Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream with a choice of hot fudge, butterscotch or seasonal berry toppings, shipped cream and pecans.
Fruit and cheese – garlic and black pepper caciotta and manchego cheese
Fresh seasonal fruit – plate of assorted fresh seasonal fruit
(I had the ice cream of course, but also had the fresh fruit)

Snack attack – Please feel free to help yourself to an assortment of sweets and other snacks near our galley at any time after your meal.

Light Meal – choice of one
Uno’s Pizza – an individual deep dish Farmer’s Market pizza served with a green salad and classic Caesar dressing.
Saffron Chicken – Saffron chicken served with a grilled vegetable salad and coriander yogurt (the chicken was good, the veggies outstanding)
Dessert – Banana chocolate drizzle cake (it was okay, didn’t taste any chocolate or banana though)

To start – fresh seasonal fruit
Breakfast Breads – a selection of breakfast breads
Main Course – choice of one
Aloo Mattar Puff – a puff pastry filled with curried potatoes and peas with and Indian style potato fritter and grilled tomatoes.
Monterey Jack Omelet – A fluffy omelet with Monterey Jack cheese accompanied by a sundried tomato turkey sausage, mushrooms and a potato croquette.
Whole Wheat Pancakes – whole wheat pancakes served with blueberry sauce, maple syrup, scrambled eggs and a potato patty.
(I just had some fresh fruit for breakfast)

Three meals on this flight, same in business. Not sure about coach. Barely started my vacation and already I’m gaining weight.  Okay, enough wining, enough typing,  time to finish my dinner.

Mixed warm nuts and antipasto cheese

Smoked salmon and lamb, the lamb was excellent

I asked for a small salad, the cajun chicken was outstanding!

The halibut was good, didn't care for the rice or the veggies
My ice cream sundae with strawberries, whip cream and pecans

5:00pm – I change my clocks to New Delhi time, so now it’s one day ahead and now it’s 4:30am, the rest of this will be Delhi time.

7:36 am – (for those of you who haven’t changed your clock it’s8:06pm Chicago time). I go to the lavatory, it finally becomes real as I think to myself “oh shit, I’m really going to India!”.  It’s no longer surreal. Changed into my pajamas. Comfy.

9:00am – Okay, now that I write this it seems silly because it’s now ‘morning time’ but I ordered a vodka and seven. I’m not tired in the least bit, been up 16 hours. Maybe this will help. Watching Suits on my screen. Like it.

9:02am – my beverage showed up. It’s way to strong for me. Need to dilute it with more sprite (no 7-up on AA). 

9:41am – finished my second vodka and sprite. Still not tired. Not anywhere near tired. Haven’t even yawned.  Bet I’ll pay for it later though.  We’re currently over the Norwegian Sea, 4282 miles left to go. We’re doing 672 miles per hour and cruising at 33,000 feet.  7 hours and 52 minutes left to go.  We must have a head wind as our estimated time of arrival is 5:36pm, 21 minutes later than scheduled.

10:40am –  Now cruising at 35,000 feet at 703 miles per hour. We’re just now over the coast of Russia north of the Gulf of Bothinia near the  town of  Tromso. We have 3620 miles left to go and have shaved three minutes off our estimated arrival time, now 5:33pm. I’m the only one awake in first class. Still not tired but have the seat in the bed position trying to rest. Just tossing and turning, maybe that will finally wear me out.

1147am –  I’m a lush I guess. Having my third drink. Still not tired, not even tipsy. We are NE of St. Petersburg Russia and just passed over the White Sea. About 15 minutes ago it went from being dark outside to daylight, nothing to see but the top of the clouds. We’re doing 599 knots at 36500 feet, I think we climbed due to some light turbulence not too long ago. Only 2916, miles left to go. Think I might watch a movie. Tempted to try the saffron chicken for the light meal, just not sure if I’m hungry. Would it be too much of a waste to just eat a bite or two?

142pm – What the heck?! I was standing in the galley have a very friendly conversation with the purser and another flight attendant when the off duty co-pilot walked up to me and yelled at me saying it was awfully hard to get any rest with all the talking in the galley. What?! The pilot yell at a passenger? I’m supposed to know that he’s in an unmarked room sleeping? After yelling at me  he went to lavatory leaving the purser (flight attendant in charge) and the other flight attendant and myself  standing there with our mouths wide open, in shock. Then the purser and flight attendant began to profusely apologize for the co-pilot’s behavior saying they have never seen anything like that in 20 plus years of flying. Even 10 minutes later as I write this they are still apologizing. The purser is even writing up an incident report saying that the actions of the off duty pilot was completely uncalled for. I’ll be sending in a comment for sure.   The purser just came back and said she had words with the off duty pilot, said he was grumpy and felt that he had every right to complain about not getting any sleep. The purser said he should complain to her and her staff, not to the passengers in the tone that he did. You see, it’s just all a big adventure! Okay, so for the stats. We have 1823 miles to go. We’re 26500 feet doing 569 knots and are currently half way between Yekaterinburg  and the Aral Sea. Still haven’t slept, maybe I burned off a pound or two with all my tossing and turning, but probably not.

155pm – Purser and flight attendant came to my seat to encourage me to send a comment to AA. They wrote up an incident report and gave a copy to the co-pilot. He’s not looking very happy.

210pm – Purser informed me that the co-pilot wishes to talk to me about the incident before we land. I’ld rather not but I should give him the opportunity if he’s wanting to apologize. But I’m still sending in my comment. 

230pm – The purser has told all 11 flight attendants on this flight what happened and each one of them, one by one, has made their way up to the cockpit to give the co-pilot grief. Missy, my favorite flight attendant in first class, came by and said that they aren’t letting down on harassing him. And every flight attendant has stopped by to apologize. Wow, weird incident but great service

430pm – I really wanted to try the Aloo Mattar Puff for breakfast but passed on it. My gut is killing me (IBS) so no more intake for a while. One more hour to go before we land. Need to change out of my pajamas, shave and pack my carry on. 

500pm – Co-pilot motions for me to come to the galley area at the front of the plane. He said “I was grumpy this morning and should have said what did, I was totally out of line. I’m sorry.” My reply was a simple “thank you”. 

We landed at 5:33 pm. It was a very long walk to immigration, now I know why there were carts there to take passengers. Mom and Steve, take the carts when you come!! I was blown away when I saw the immigration counters, not a single passenger, just the few that were walking in front of me.  Clearing in took one minute tops. And there was barely a wait for my checked bag, it was on the carousel in less than five minutes. And I was out past customs in one minute. After leaving customs I found myself in the main check in area of the airport, lots of people holding up signs with names. None with my name.  I walk outside and the first sign I see is my name, and my cousin’s driver Ajay is holding it. (A side note, it was not in the least bit scary or intimidating going outside as so many forums have stated) Ajay immediately grabs my bags and tells me to follow him until we got to a point where he told me to wait. He returned a short bit later with a brand new Honda Accord, but this one seemed much bigger than the ones I saw. 

Ajay loaded my bags into the trunk, opened my rear passenger door then climbed into the driver’s door. Inside was my new suit and a formal wedding invitation as well as a personal note from my cousin and a bottle of water. On the way to the guest house we stopped and got a sim card for my cell phone and then at an ATM machine so I could get some rupees then on to the guest house. There I met my cook who offered to get me anything I wanted. I really didn’t want anything but to find the bed and get some sleep but I didn’t want to be rude either. So I had a cup of black tea. The cook asked what time I wanted breakfast, I said 8am. His huge smile made me wonder if he was happy to sleep in tomorrow morning.

This is really one long post so I’m going to end it here. But I have to say I’ve been in New Delhi three hours and I have so much to write about. I’ll pace it, and keep my posts short where I can.

The first day of 89 days in India was awesome!!

First class slippers

Personal monitor

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