India’s LAX

Anil & Florence Kumar presenting birthday cake to Steve Hogan

* * * * * * * Anil & Florence Kumar * * * * * * * Presenting birthday cake to Steve Hogan

 Friday, October 21, Bonnie and I flew from Yangon, Myanmar to Calcutta, India, after teaching in the morning at the Hmawbi Bible School and being treated to lunch in the home of Siang Thang, one of the school directors. We barely had enough time to get showered, clothes changed and packed for our flight. However, as it turned out, our plane was nearly two hours late departing. Then, upon arriving in Calcutta and clearing customs, we had an 8-hour layover instead of the expected 12-hour layover.

I share Bonnie’s sentiments of not desiring to visit the Calcutta airport again in its current condition (though plans are underway for a complete revamping to bring it into the present century). Like LAX, signs are nearly non-existent and nothing is intuitive. Like LAX, there are separate terminals for international and domestic flights. So, in the dark of night and outside, there we were pushing a cart of four checked bags, two pieces of cabin luggage and two computer cases a city block or two over uneven ground along an unmarked serpentine route. Naturally, at one particularly inconvenient spot, the bags toppled off the cart and tumbled to the ground. It had been raining, but fortunately, though everything was well wetted, it was not raining as we lugged our cartage between terminals.

Arriving at the domestic terminal, it was questionable if we would even be allowed inside the building since our flight was not until the morning, but we were permitted entrance. We would have preferred lodging, but nothing at either terminal advertised such inside or outside the airport. Searching the Internet days earlier, what was available was pricey and a ways from the airport; we did not have a lot of time to travel to and from the airport and still get any rest, so we opted to test the uncomfortable seating in the overgrown, outdated bus station like structure.

Without signs or guides, we plodded through security check points, managed to navigate the correct baggage screening area for our airline and finally get serviced at a counter. Once more encountering security, we wandered somewhat aimlessly as our flight had not even been assigned a departure gate yet. As in some other overseas airports, without public address announcements respecting the coming and going of flights, we had to observe who appeared to have tickets like ours and follow them when they moved for the door. Interestingly, two flights at a time going to different destinations went through our gate at the same time; discernment was required to assess which of two busses outside would take us to our airplane on the tarmac.

So, Saturday, October 22, we flew in the morning from Calcutta to Hyderabad – where we were to meet up with Steve Hogan, Deacon of Missions from the Florence Blvd. Church of Christ in Florence, AL. After making contact with him, we had enough time to get a bite of breakfast together, which was a little more challenging than you might think. The Hyderabad airport is far superior to the one in Calcutta (or LAX), but it is no Singapore airport (the best we have ever found).

Together, the three of us winged our way to Vijayawada, India from Hyderabad, India. Another short bus ride from the tarmac to the bus stop style terminal and wading through the bodies to recover our indiscriminately deposited luggage on the floor – and beating off “helpers” who wanted a fee for taking our baggage 60 feet – we emerged into the hot, humid, intensely sunny exit side of the “terminal.” To our disappointment, Anil Kumar was not there to pick us up. Calling him on our cell phone (works in India at a price, but not in Myanmar), he stated he was 20 minutes away; 40 minutes later, he arrived.

Three pieces of luggage roped to the car and the rest wedged inside, we set off for the 2 ½ hour road trip to Chilakaluripet, India. Upon arrival at our hotel, Bonnie and I crashed; I was so weary from lack of sleep that I was feeling sickly. Rested, showered and donning clean clothes, we were ready for the 8:00 p.m. supper prepared in the home of Florence and Anil Kumar. It was then that we were given a vague idea of what lie in store for us the next few days, though we could not image what was to come to pass even with this insight.

Explore posts in the same categories: India, Myanmar (Burma), Overseas, Travel

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