by Jiten Patel

On the Road experiences … Mumbai, India

Sep 05, 20084 mins
IT Leadership

I just got back last week from a 2 week business trip to Mumbai, India. Ordinarily I will fly using BA, but this time used Virgin all the way from Newark, NJ to Mumbai via London. Virgin offers a wonderful service, even in the “cattle” class (to the uninitiated that is flying in economy or coach).

Given that we are a non-profit organization we only fly “cattle” class, regardless of the duration of the flight. For a while now I happen to be on the road, on the plane, travelling approx 3 to 3.5 weeks in a month.

When one travels as much as I do, and doing so in the “cattle” class, it can be tortuous from time to time especially if the “cattle” class is jam-packed, which is the case more often than not as of late. During those moments, I simply close my eyes, and hallucinate about seating in premier economy (has little less cattle corralled) or business/first … it feels good for as long as it lasts, even if it is for a fleeting moment in time; just thinking of it imbues one with good salivating thoughts (being serenaded – hmmm!!!, champagne, a la carte menu, etc …); this is my yoga exercise. It keeps the mind numb from the signals from down under that the butt is hurting. Alas, one can moan and groan once the hallucination wears off.  

And when one thinks of a poor person barely making $2 per day has to go through each and every day to earn a living, makes my pain, moans and/or groans pale in comparison.

I must say though that Virgin does a very good job even back in the “cattle” class. I departed Newark at 8:00 am in the morning, and got to Mumbai around Noon the next day – I got to the hotel, showered, and went to work, Aaahhhh!!!! I much prefer arriving at midnight or early in the morning, at least this way I can get some immediate sleep. I used to be able to sleep soundly on a plane, but not as of late.

Mumbai, well what can one say. It is a city unlike any other, and one that I have really taken a liking to despite its issues. It is a city in a whirlwind of progress, yet with poverty a mere stone throw away from the doorstep of gleaming new office buildings; with both excellent and lousy infrastructure going hand-in-hand; brand new cars fighting with cars from antiquity for space, and if that was not enough you have the rikshawallahs weaving in and out, spewing smoke and pollutants, with the horns tooting almost incessantly yet there was no road rage; and to further mesmerize and enthrall one just has to take in the beautiful aroma of Champa, Parijata, Jasmine, Kewdas happily co-existing with the stench and smell of garbage on the road-side. Aaahhh, yes, I forgot to mention the masses of humanity. And much more importantly, at least as far as my palate is concerned, the food is just simply aromatic, and mouth-wateringly delicious.

On my way back with Virgin, the moons must have been aligned, for I got a bump to the “premier cattle” class from Mumbai all the way to Newark … I did not have to hallucinate any more … I savoured every moment of it.

Now this coming week, I will be flying back Eastwards this weekend though not all the way to India, but to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for a week.  This time though with British Airways … I am very much hoping that they read this … For I am ready to give them a huge, big plug for bumping me up to “premier cattle” class.  

More to follow next week … Safe travels.