I had forgotten just how difficult getting a tuk tuk in Mumbai was. The city is filled with them and by law they must use the meter and cannot refuse a fair. In practice one of two things happens, first of all they try not to use the meter and give you a ridiculous fare. If you persist and they decide they will use the meter expect to get taken all over Mumbai in an effort to ramp up the fair. It very quickly becomes a pain and as usual the city may be amazing but the hassle of the tuk tuk drivers makes it a chore doing anything.
We spent a lot of time in Mumbai last year and so for info on the cities rail network and various things to do see http://thesummerholidayofalifetime.com/?p=201
We didn’t have a great deal of time in Mumbai this year and this was done purposely. In reality Mumbai was a simply stopover to see a friend and then a hub for which we could leave for the South.
We left for the airport for our 1700 Air India Express flight to Kochi which is on the South West coast of India in Kerala at 1300. Usually I arrive about an hour prior to a flight but anyone who has taken a flight in India knows you need to be there a good few hours before hand. Expect checks, checks, checks and then re checks.
There is one airport in Mumbai and it is split into two terminals – International and Domestic. Being India the two terminals are about half an hour by road away from each other and not connected in any way officially.
Tuk Tuks refuse to use a meter to the airport point blank and so we were quoted 100 Rupees for the few km journey which by Indian standards was an absolute scam. Given we were flying domestic we turned up at the domestic airport and went searching for our flight. It wasn’t long before I found out that actually, Air India express fly their domestic flights from the International terminal. Things like this are common in India and by this point I was getting pissed off with it all. 500 Rupee fares were being quoted for the hop to the next terminal and the drivers were laughing in our faces as they said them. It turns out that Air India, the national carrier directs some of their flights from the domestic terminal and so we headed there. They arranged us a taxi for 170INR to the International terminal.
Half an hour later we started to pull up to the airport and saw loads of cars turning round and speeding towards us, people were running, all away from the airport. It soon transpired that a bomb had been found at the terminal. We bailed out of the taxi and started to move away, expecting to get blown to smithereens any minute I asked a police officer what was going on. The bomb had been found and diffused about 20 minutes earlier and so it was now safe to enter the airport.
By now it was about 3pm and we checked in for our flight and went straight through security to get some food. Inflation within the airport had risen about 1000% quicker than on the outside and the prices were just ridiculous. In any case we had a munch and then went to wait for our flight.
About fifteen minutes prior to boarding our flight was delayed until 1930. It went mad. I am not joking people were rioting at the gate and going mental. The poor skinny little manager came down to the baying mob and they ripped him apart.
The official word was that the plane had gone tech. But some guy who worked in the government was saying that what had actually happened was that Air India was in such bad debt that the pilots had to pay for the fuel upfront and that the pilot had refused saying Air India express should come and cover it. In any case this dragged on and it seemed like every time we were due to board another delay happened. Food and drinks were provided after the manager was physically assaulted (he was grabbed by the throat and slapped) and when we finally boarded the flight around 10pm everyone on the plane applauded.
The pilots floored it all the way and so the flight was extremely bumpy (when there is turbulence the pilots usually slow the aircraft down, in this case they probably didn’t dare!) we arrived into Kochi just before midnight.
There is a cartel running the airport taxi situation and so you really have no other choice than to pay what they ask. We paid 770Rupees for the 45km journey to our hotel on Fort Cochin. The driver was the slowest human being on the planet and so the half hour journey took an hour.
Upon check in I asked for the wifi code only to be told there was no internet at the hotel. Despite the fact we had supposedly checked into a business hotel.
Pissed off and tired we got into bed and turned everything off. It was ten past one in the morning and as I was laid thinking about how shit the day had been I couldn’t help but hear the tick, tick, tick, tick of the clock on the wall. As I climbed on the desk to remove the battery I wondered if now, finally, the day would end.