Madipakkam to Maximum City!

Madipakkam(chn) to Maximum city(Mumb) has been quite an ordeal already. I arrived an hour late yesterday afternoon, and to my dismay some passenger mistook his blue bag for my large suitcase and sped off. I was waiting for a long time near the conveyor belt for that seemingly elusive blue bag suitcase, but it never turned up. All my clothes were in that suitcase and it felt painful to think that someone had flicked that within minutes of arricval in Mumbai. My friend Akshob, on the phone made matters worse by laughing at the incident and likening me to “Tenali Raman in Big Bad Mumbai”. Go air immediately assured me that it was a case of swap as one more blue bag was not collected. I just hoped it was a swap, and waited for the go air staff at the airport to get in touch with the other passenger who’s swapped luggage. They did some research on their database and found that the number registered was a wrong cell number! Way to go......!!!

They found that the ticket was booked through Makemytrip and the passengers address was also not mentioned, only the makemytrip office address was mentioned. Then they called up the MMT office and some good Samaritan there, gave the correct contact number. I was smiling after a confused look for the best part of half hour after the plane landed. The smile didn’t last long... the phone was switched off. The Go-Air Team assured me that the luggage would be found in a couple of hours. I decided instead of waiting here, I shall rather make my way to office. I step out of the airport and tens of taxi trivers crowded me as if I was a celebrity and asked me where did I want to go. Parel was the place, and the numbers they started to quote was “Just 400, Just 600”. I just wondered, the taxi fare they were quoting was 6 times my basic fare from Mumbai-Chennai on Go Air. Finally found a Fiat Taxi who swore by the meter. I was advised 150-200 as the range, but you see, when you are a new traveller , statistics makes way to push the range to 300-350. Geez... these guys could give the Chennai Auto walas a run for their money. I generally hate commuting by Taxis in any place for that matter, but since I had luggage and I couldn’t dream of getting into that confusing Mumbai network of trains with my paraphernalia, I went for the taxi.

I arrived at the office, signed a few papers, forms, had a nice lunch, and as I was belching away my suitcase worries, A call comes from Go-Air that my baggage has been found and restored at the office. Now going at peak time to take the bag, meant again planning. Peak time in MUMBAI is between 5 pm and 10 pm when an overwhelming number of people cram their way into highly overcrowded trains as if their life depended on it. The roads are already occupied with bumper-bumper traffic for those who couldn’t make it to the trains. So how else to do you reach the airport? I was feeling weak and defeated in Mumbai J, and decided to retire to the company guest house at Wadala, via another taxi. I reached Wadala and did what I do beat tension, SLEEP in peace, until a call from my classmate Dwaipayan woke me up. It was almost 7 then, and at 7 30 pm, I asked my guesthouse cook for directions, and he saw that I was confused and decided to offer his services for help. He decided to accompany me to the airport. The seriousness of his advise, looked as if he was planning a strategic attack for war commandos to sneak and snake through Mumbai traffic. Frankly, travelling in Mumbai needs some real planning, as it makes the difference between a fume and a cheer. From Wadala East-Near Imax, I took a taxi to the wadala road station, which cost me 40 rs and from there I bought 2 return tickets to Andheri( don’t ask why. I was advised by my cook). The ticket had it written that this ticket is usable till Monday morning, which was so nice considering the mind of a weekend traveller. Wow that’s some customer service! As I stood on the station, a train seemed to come written 7 57 B on it, but my cook advised my against travelling in it as it would stop at Bandra, which meant I would need to get down from the harbour line and cross over to the western line which would be very crowded and unwise to attempt. He asked me to wait for the Andheri local, which would come as that meant that the train would make a natural progression from the harbour line to the western line, without having to board another train till Ville Parle.

Ville Parle arrived... and we took an auto from there to the airport. Just as Bollywood would show an estranged mother meeting her son, I ran into the airport into the wrong terminal and found a guard who seemed from the North East(High Cheek bones). I started in Hindi , pointing my hand at an imaginary counter, that my bag was swapped at a Go air Conveyor belt and I needed to go inside. He only looked in more seriousness at me without opening his mouth. I thought he didn’t understand hindi, and started to speak broken hindi with a gap between each syllable, so that he got an rough import of what I wanted. Basically I went on a SLOW mode, as people from the East of India, have a morbid fascination for talking very fast and finishing the sentence even as they begin speaking(sample Prakritish Buragohain spelt at neck break speed -Pogdees bugwen). He finally opened his mouth saying “pls speak in English”. Sheesh! Was my Hindi bad or he didn’t understand hindi. I was confused and shaken aback. I narrated the whole thing, and he said, that I was bluffing. I was flabbergasted and proceeded to show the tickets and baggage receipt, when he said that he thought I was bluffing as I pointed my hand towards a counter, and that particular building had only Kingfisher and Indian flying. He said Go Air would be the next block and not this. Oh man! Why did he engage me in such a long conversation then? I went to the next counter and thankfully the ordeal was over quickly spotting a cute Go Air girl in a Black and Green T shirt. She helped me with the rest of the formalities.

Having the 15 kg luggage in hand, I was fervently hoping for an auto, but no auto driver budged as being in the airport, he expected a minimum savari of 100 rs or atleast 50 rs, not the 10 rs ride to the ville parle station, which would be an opportunity cost of 90 rs for him, if he plied there. Hard Luck, I had to walk with the luggage across the Sahara Hotel to the higway and crossed it to find an auto, who took me to Ville Parle for 10 rs. The rest of the journey was quite uneventful, with me looking at the complex network of trains that Mumbai had, in the display near the door. The trains are pretty well organised and are dot on time here, and people just seem to keep on running...after they get off from a train. The crowd on the trains and the platforms had me in a dizzy. This weekend I will buy a local time table and chart plans for my travel to office. Looks like operations Management has just got a new case study! Figuring out the most optimal way to travel in the Mumbai Trains and BEST buses.

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