The Bombay Journal

Saturday, November 1, 1997.

Dave Wood and I are traveling to Mumbai (Bombay) to participate in a training session being given to the Indian resources that are engaged for the CYBERLIFE project.

Our preparation began weeks before with obtaining a passport and visa and getting the recommended immunizations - Hepatitis, Tetanus/Diphtheria Booster, Polio Booster, and Typhoid fever.

The journey began Saturday, November 1, 1997 from Lynchburg, VA. Our route to Bombay would be from Lynchburg to Atlanta to Frankfurt to Bombay. We left Lynchburg at 4:30, bound for Atlanta. We arrived in Atlanta and proceeded to the international terminal to board our flight to Frankfurt. We were scheduled to leave at 7:30, but didn't actually take off until 8:30. Part of the reason for the delay was to remove the luggage of passengers that did not board, which is done for international flights. Our 4608 mile route took us up the eastern coast, over Richmond, New York, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. At 10:45 we were over Newfoundland. The plane's video system projected information about the flight such as current location on a map, ground speed, altitude, and headwind/tailwind.

We were served dinner and had movies to watch. This particular aircraft, an MD-11, has personal video monitors built into the seat from which you can choose one of the several movies being offered. It also has power for PCs. After finishing dinner and the movie, I settled back for some sleep. Our seats were in business class, which offers seats which recline more fully and have leg rests, very similar to a LA-Z-BOY recliner. As we flew east into the sun, I after noticing daylight around 3:15a.m. (EST). At that time the progress information showed us just passing over Glasgow, Scotland. For most of the trip, it was very cloudy. Between the darkness and the clouds there wasn't much to see on the ground.

We arrived in Frankfurt at 4:38a.m. (EST) or 10:38 local time. Our connecting flight was scheduled to leave at 11:05, but had been delayed because of fog and our late arrival. In Frankfurt, we met Brian Morgan and Lisa Henry. Lisa is one of the trainers with CYBERTEK. Also on our flight to Frankfurt was Linda Anderson, also with CYBERTEK. Linda's mother was supposed to travel with her, but flight problems at JFK forced her to depart from Cincinnati and she had not yet arrived in Frankfurt. Linda elected to wait for her and follow on the next day. We changed planes (now a 767) and left Frankfurt at 6:17a.m. (EST), just after midnight local time, for the 4,086 mile flight. We were in first class for this part of the trip. It was very similar to business class except that the seats were slightly larger and were farther apart.

We landed in Mumbai at 2:24p.m. (E.S.T) which was 12:54 local time Monday, November 2. The first thing that we noticed was the smell. It was unlike anything that I had ever smelled before.. a mixture of pollution and people. We deplaned into the airport which was not air conditioned and very hot. It was still 84 degrees outside and didn't seem much cooler inside. The airport was very plain and very old. We were routed to immigration and customs processing. We had been given a form on the plane to fill out as part of the entry process. The area was about the size of a typical school lunchroom and despite the fact that it was 2 o'clock in the morning, there were hundreds of people 'lined up.' I use the quotes because although that what was supposed to happen, there was actually no discernible order to the process, nor was there any apparent 'rhyme or reason' to the way that they did things. Only as we got closer to the officials did any sort of 'line' become noticeable. There was a separate area at the other end of the room to assist with questions or problems with the process, but generally did not process entry. Occasionally one of the officials would wave at someone to come to this area to be processed, thus avoiding the long lines (it was usually women…). Others noticed this 'special treatment' and began walking toward the area. One of the officials (I called him 'Sarge' because he wore 3 stripes on his sleeve and seemed to be in charge) barked at them "Did I call you over here?" and motioned them to return to the line. He then wandered by us and yelled "You people are too impatient!" This was our first lesson in waiting and the way things are done. We waited over 1 ½ hours before being processed. While still waiting in line and getting close to one of the desks, one of the officials pointed to me and motioned with his hand to move to one of the desks, in line behind someone just finishing up, and ahead of others that had been waiting as long as I had. I had seen this several times, and as I mentioned before, there was no apparent logic to this process. The immigration process consisted of validation of the passport using a computer terminal, stamping the passport with the authorization, and stamping the form obtained on the plane. A part of this form was also stamped and returned to allow you to claim your baggage.

The baggage area was also mayhem. Our luggage, had already been taken off the belt and had been placed on the floor. To exit the airport, you had to surrender the part of the form on which you had indicated how much baggage you had. We were traveling with Brian Morgan who had been here about a month prior. Even with information from Brian we were unprepared for what we encountered. saw, heard, smelled, etc. As Brian put it, it is an "assault on your senses" with the sights, sounds, and smells.

He had arranged for the hotel to have drivers waiting for us. We piled the bags and us into two cars (such as they were) and made the 5 minute trip to the hotel. We checked into the hotel about 3:30 and around 4:00 finally got to bed. The hotel is a Western-style, much like we are accustomed to in the states. The air conditioning labors constantly, and even at that, the air is still very damp and papers somewhat soggy. One thing that is very obvious and cannot be ignored is the heat.

The Leela Hotel in Bombay
View from room at The Leela
View from room at The Leela
Doorman at The Leela
View from room at The Leela
Lobby of the Leela
View from room at The Leela
Inside of The Leela
Directing Traffic at Intersection
More Bombay traffic
Back to Home Page
Bombay, Day 2