25 June 2007
As I was telling John Silliphant that I’d made a mistake by not listing all the contents of my checked bag (like a camera, data card, SIM card, and various electronic adapters and cables), I got a phone call from a very professional-sounding woman at Emirates telling me that my bag had arrived and I had 24 hour access to the bag within the next two days, and then from 11am to 5pm thereafter, and that I should go to the same place that I’d filed the complaint with my passport, report, and key (“it’s not locked”). So, I headed off to the International Airport immediately, figuring that I wouldn’t give too much opportunity for the folks at the baggage claim and customs area to get at the 2 pounds of coffee and 2 pounds of chocolate (that are probably melting as I write) that I did mention.
I set off in the slight rain to look for an auto rickshaw. All were full of passengers. One dropped off two women right in front of me. I told him that I wanted to go to the airport. “Which one?” “International.” A shake of the head – “no.” OK, continue to stick my arm out at the sight of every passing rickshaw. 5 minutes later, the rickshaw driver that had refused to take me, and was waiting for a fare 2 feet from me, came out and said he’d take me if we took the highway – there was too much water on the local routes. Well, why didn’t he offer that in the first place?!? We set off. Rs. 100 later, he deposited me at the departure area after insisting that he was not allowed to go to the arrivals area. He pointed to a sign that indicated he was not allowed, and I couldn’t convince him that he was allowed to go “with a passenger.”
Along the way, we passed by a slew of TV vans on the periphery road next to the highway. At the time, I assumed that there was some flooding accident. Later, I saw that 136 people had died in various states, including 5 in Bombay due to monsoon floods.
The claim was quick, and I passed customs (Desk #10 again) without having to open my bag. “What about the transportation reimbursement?” I ask. “Madam, you must go to Emirates office on the 2nd Floor.” I was tempted just to leave, but I was already there… why not? So, out the exit, elevators to the 2nd Floor, where I have to sign in with a guard. Negotiate the warren of dingy hallways to the Emirates office where the woman who called me is informing another passenger about the status of their bags and the person at the front desk says: “You’re coming from Bandra West?” Very efficient. “We can give you Rs. 400.”
This being the International airport, there are no auto rickshaws in sight, so I opt for the prepaid taxi. The fare to Bandra West is Rs. 200. The bag charge is Rs. 10. According to my receipt, and the fare that I paid, Rs. 200 plus Rs. 10 equals Rs. 220.