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Around the World in Four Hops

Learn to hop
and to Jump,
Rock n' roll
at its best,
United, Cathay or Indian
in the Skies,
Guaranteed you are a Kangaroo
at its best.

The first time I decided to fly across continents, my mail box was flooded. There were scores of people talking about everything that they thought was remotely connected to international travel. Topics ranged from time differences to jet lags and more. At times it really had me wondering if International travel was just an ethereal extension of a Sci-fi thriller. Then when I actually embarked on my journey through space, time and motion I realized that this was no where near the realms of Newtonian Physics and Einsteinian Relativity.

Whatever it is, something really confounded me right from the beginning. Just to share my secret, I decided to fly Sabena (NO, not the popular washing soap back in India) to Brussels and then took a Swiss air to New York. What intrigued me

the most is the 10 hours that I lost in the whole bargain. I took off at 1 45 in the night from Chennai and I landed at 1 30 in the noon at New York and giving about an hour at Brussels for the change over my flying record manual read Total Flying Time = 22 hours. Don't you think its child's math to calculate that I m just 12 hours behind the destination. You bet I m still wondering.

I was flying Lufthansa and Frankfurt hosted me for a whole 3 hours. My love for Swiss chocolates took the better of me. What was to be a gourmet's Feast turned out to be a rude lesson in Deutsch 'Marcs' -buying and selling and some German to go with it.

I am an engineering graduate and shapes and geometry have always fascinated me, but not in the rude way I learnt it from United Airlines. I have heard tales of cargo handling and the real stress tests that suitcases are put through but I never imagined that a suitcase that went in solid and square at Delhi could come out all but oval. The fact that United gave away a parting oval glassware to soothe my tempers is a different story.

I have had myriad traveling experiences. Just to add to the list was when I was flying Singapore Airlines from Zurich to Chennai.  I was to fly Zurich to Singapore and Singapore to Chennai and little did I realize the blunder in the whole route until the captain of the Zurich Singapore Flight makes a grand announcement with all his flourish - "Ladies and gentlemen we are now flying over Chennai and will be landing at Singapore in about 2 hours from now".  Hello! Aren't there any mid air stations? That's my stop.

But by far my best experience on international flying has been with Cathay Pacific. My travel agent promised me a festive season deal and put me on this one. Things seemed to be on a song until the boarding assistant thrust five boarding passes in my hand. A wonderful game of hop skip and jump is what followed next. Chennai to Bangkok, Bangkok to Singapore, Singapore to Seoul, Seoul to Honolulu and Honolulu to LA. You bet I did around the world in five hops.

Bashyam Ramasami (bashyam_r@yahoo.com)
Sreegururaj Jayachander

A wonderful game of hop skip and jump… Chennai to Bangkok to Singapore to Seoul to Honolulu to L.A. to...

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