Monday 10th February – Dera Dune – Kochi

A travelling day today which began well with a good coach drive to Jodhpur, stopping at a petrol station for a wee and then by roadside for tea – no biscuits this time! However when we stopped in Osian for a pharmacy our assistant driver returned with an orange and a banana each. We arrived early enough in Jodhpur to enjoy a buffet lunch in a pleasant restaurant in an enclosed courtyard. We ate under an awning for about £5 a head plus drinks. The soup was probably out of a packet but the pakora were tasty as were the other dishes. The toilets were Sloan as well which is always a bonus. Tom gave them 5 star on bogadvisor!

The airport was crowded and by the time we got into the departure lounge we couldn’t …lounge that is. Standing room only! As a flight started boarding some seats became free and so we managed to sit down one by one. Our flight to Delhi was eventually called some 45 minutes late and I think,by the time it left the ground it was an hour late. Queueing, that bastion of British manners, seems to be on the wane in India and w enjoyed several examples of pushing in. The Raj had its good points!

We arrived at Delhi and knew that time was short to make our connecting flight. We headed for domestic transfers, but on arriving found our flight wasn’t on the board. We asked at the transfer desk and it was explained that flights for Kochi were international transfers. I didn’t have time to ask if it had been annexed by Pakistan and on reflection that probably wouldn’t have gone down well. So we headed for international transfers, to be told that we needed international departures. This involved leaving the current terminal and entering another one. More showing of our boarding cards and a ride in a lift brought us to the international departure area. Gate 19a didn’t seem to exist, but after further confusion we discovered why there was a large D on our ticket. We followed the arrows and came to a whole new security area with very long queues. By now our flight was boarding. An Air India representative who looked as though he should still be reading comics guided us to another security area where the queue was shorter. We queued while sundry Indians barged ahead of us. To make matters worse we had a pedant looking at the X ray screen and so every bag was examined in minute detail. Then he vacated his chair and with all the haste of a man enjoying a cold beer in a drought, another officer took his place. However he was quicker and at last we were through.

Janet was being wheeled in her chair by another infant who promptly took us through a staff door and we hurried through behind the scenes and avoided duty free – always a good move. Further rushing got us to the gate at the final call. The problem was Mark didn’t know who was already on the plane and who we were still waiting for. Eventually we were all on board and the flight could leave. “Thank you for running Air India. We hope to welcome you on our runway again in the future”!

We arrived at Kochi at 9.30 but by the time had got our luggage and gone through umpteen showings of our boarding passes (to get out of the airport?), it was 10.00. Our Indus rep was there to greet us as we stepped out into 22C! We boarded our coach and after another hour and twenty minutes arrived at our very swish heritage hotel. We were exhausted! Dinner was offered which looked lovely but most of us were too tired to eat and went straight to our very lovely rooms. And so to bed……

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