Posted by: Googie | March 21, 2010

And we’re off

Finally I can resume writing about what this blog is meant for, Googie going global.

Before going to the United States, I was going to spend about 10 days in Turkey. I was taking an Air Arabia flight from Delhi to Istanbul, but it involved a long long stopover in Sharjah (of close to 24 hours).

Everybody knows that the Gulf has a lot of money, and they like to show off their wealth. So I had imagined a plush, sophisticated international airport at Sharjah, where one could spend a month in luxury without getting bored, let alone one day. But my dreams were about to be shattered big time 😦

To put it plainly, Sharjah International airport is crap. There are no facilities provided by the airport or the airline for transit passengers. There is a lounge where one needs to pay 100 Dirhams to spend just 3 hours inside. There is no free wi-fi, just a ridiculously expensive internet centre. The restrooms are too small. The food court has a very limited selection of stuff. The only good thing was that the duty free shop seemed to be well equipped.

So I spent the night sleeping on the floor in one remote section of the transit area along with about 20 other people. Sometime in the middle of the night, I was woken up by an airport official asking to see my passport and ticket. With the airport announcements happening every 15 minutes right overhead, it was far from a sound sleep.

I met a Polish guy and a Russian guy both of whom had also flown in from Delhi, and were also waiting. The Polish guy was on the same flight to Istanbul as I was, but the poor Russian’s flight was the next morning. By the time he would board his plane (assuming of course, that he wouldn’t die of boredom before that) he would have spent close to an astonishing 36 hours at Sharjah – a feat overshadowed only by Mr. Elesh Parujanwala.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, security check for my flight was announced. After passing through there and waiting in the boarding area, when I was finally on the last queue that takes you outside the airport terminal building, I began to breathe a sigh of relief. But I think the damned God of all breakdowns heard my sigh, because no sir, it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing even now 😦

At the head of the queue, they took one look at my Indian passport and took me aside. Some airline official came along and started asking me tons of questions. Why was I going to Turkey? How long would I be there? Where will I be staying? Who will I be meeting? Where will I go from there? When will I return to India? etc. etc. etc.
All this while he was constantly rubbing his fingers over all my visas and comparing my photos in each of them. He even asked me to show my money and credit card.

When I had already gone through this process at my visa interviews, why did I need to do it all over again? And that too, to some random airline staff. I decided right away that unless I had no other option at all, this would be my last flight on Air Arabia.

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