Thursday 24 April 2008

Near Catastrophe

I have no photos of Bangalore. At all. The place where I was staying was in the supplier campus and prevents all photography. So I can't prove that I was there except the plane ticket. Since I took an internal flight I can't even show you a stamp in my passport. I could be sitting on the beach in Brighton. But I'm not. It is Thursday so this must be Pune and it is 100 degrees F (40 c).

I am shattered. Yesterday my meetings started at 8:30 and went straight through dinner until 11:00 in the evening. In fact in the taxi drive home I had to announce that I was tired of working and could we please talk about something else, anything else.

I was relieved to get back to the hotel but not looking forward to packing, checking out and the airport tango consisting of queues, loads of people jostling for position, baggage tags, and the crushing fear of someone stealing one of your bags when you’ve turned your back for just a second. The whole rushing to the front of the queue is something I just don't get. I mean we all have to get on the plane so it doesn't really matter if you are at the front of the queue or the back of the queue, plane leaves when we are all seated (with our seat belts securely fastened).

I didn’t sleep well. I rarely do the night before I have to catch an early morning flight. I’m always afraid I am going to oversleep. I woke up every hour and had to turn on the light to check that the alarm clock was still working.

When the alarm went off and I drug myself out of bed and got down to the front desk.

I patiently waited until it was 10 minutes past the expected arrival time of my taxi. I then asked the man at the front desk to ring the taxi and see when it was expected to arrive. He did and then panic set in.

They had no booking for me. I was on the company campus and there was no way to hail a cab. My supplier had taken an earlier morning flight to Hyderabad and besides he’s British so he couldn’t help me. I asked the front desk to ring one of the people I had dinner with last night he was trying to find out what had happened but he was running out of time.

A man (I assume an employee of the supplier) comes out of the hotel and says he is going to the airport and will share a car. There is a wee little car waiting for him. My big suitcase takes up the entire boot. All the other luggage is piled into the back seat which I position myself around. There is no air conditioning so the front windows are open and my hair is flying away whilst I sit in the back seat and try to contain my complete and utter anxiety attack. The roads we take are the back roads and they are dirt. Dust is all over my clothes. At one point I text my husband. He sends through alternative flight times to Pune (he’s a saint and if I ever complain about it remind me of this moment). I text him that I am not entirely sure I am headed to the airport. My mobile then stopped sending texts. I realise I haven't been receiving email since the day before and I am beginning to worry that perhaps I’ve been kidnapped and this was all a sinister plot to keep me from visiting other suppliers.

OK, not really but I am angry. Very angry. I trusted them to make reliable travel arrangements for me. Easy. Simple. Straightforward. If they can’t do that how can they take care of the big things I need them to take care of.

I quite simply don’t deal well with that level of stress particularly when I am working on average of 4 hours sleep/night and have been working non-stop for 3 days. I am travelling to see another supplier. I look like I’ve been camping or sleeping rough. I've got meetings here today and tomorrow then tomorrow evening I'm off to Mumbai for less than 24 hours just to catch a flight home to London.

I am missing home.

I have now arrived in Pune and my two supplier colleagues met me at the airport (seems they were on the same flight which they had caught at its origination point in Chennai. They helped me with my luggage, got my driver who got my car which has air conditioning and is clean!

I am feeling better and am now headed into yet another office for a day of meet and greet. It is going to be an early night.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there Plum..So far so good, and besides you are courageous!!!!

Janell said...

I loved reading about your adventures in Indaia, but this post makes me very glad that the only travel I have to do for my job is 18 miles to and from. In a pickup.