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Co-imbibing Coimbatore's Combination Culture: May'13

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:48 pm    Post subject: Co-imbibing Coimbatore's Combination Culture: May'13 Reply with quote

Co-imbibing Coimbatore's Combination Culture: May'13


http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13511.html

56.1 How one/1 foresees the 4Cs in the title

Yet another weird title. Co-imbibing?
Yes, A senior colleague and I were supposed to make a trip to
Coimbatore on some work. I had heard a lot about Tamil Nadu's
textile city, and major economic point. Some time later, the
senior colleague had to cancel his plans, and it was to be Yours
Truly to make the trip, alone. The Wife, Junior and I had only
passed through Coimbatore once in 2010, on the way to Ooty, where
The Wife had got down from the train, and got some much-needed
nourishment for a slightly cranky Junior, and a similarly cranky
Yours Truly, who was also very hungry. The corresponding trip
report can be found at the following URL:
5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10809.html

Combination Culture?
Coimbatore is at the western end of Tamil Nadu, and has a rather
interesting ethnic mix among its residents. The proximity to
Kerala ensures that there are a lot of Malayalis here. In fact,
many Keralites consider the Coimbatore airport as Kerala's fourth
airport (after Kochi/Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram/Trivandrum,
Kozhikode/Calicut). It is also an economic giant in the region,
and is particularly famous as a textile city. It is interesting
that a long time back, many people from the present-day Gujarat
had migrated to this region (possibly due to the textile
connection), and smoothly intermixed with the local people of the
region, speak Tamil, and imbibed many local traditions. Even now,
some of these people will point out their origins to
`Saurashtra'. My hosts at Coimbatore told me that of late, there
has been a large migration of people from the North here,
primarily due to the growth of the IT industry in this region. My
host had pointed out some interesting food options in the city,
but I would not end up with much time to explore the city's
gastronomic delights.

56.2 A memorable trip begins!

My itinerary was as follows:

Set out 08 May (Wed) for Coimbatore from New Delhi
AI 657: Air India (A321) [Seat: 12F; PNR: JRJJF]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - CSIA T1, Mumbai - Peelamedu Airport, Coimbatore
New Delhi (DEL) - Mumbai (BOM) - Coimbatore (CJB)
[07:00 am - 09:05 am; 10:00 am - 11:50 am]

The journey to the IGI airport T3 was nothing to write about,
except noticing the new Mig-23 BN exhibit, which had been put up
near the entry to the terminal. There was nothing special about
the terminal that day, either. 08 May, 2013.

We boarded from gate 28B. The gate on the other side was boarding
the morning Calcutta flight, AI 401. The loads looked excellent.
Our ride for the day would be `PE', the `healthy plane': VT-PPE.
The healthy plane would have healthy loads! The First Officer
came in just before us, and enquired about the loads. The
gentleman at the gate told him that it would be 100% full in the
economy section, with a total of 160 passengers on board. That
would mean 8 Business class passengers, since the total capacity
of the Air India A321s is 20 J + 152 Y. We boarded a
spic-and-span plane. I tried hard, but could not find a single
grease or grime stain on any plastic surface near me. The fabric
was clean, though it showed its age a bit. The wallpaper was the
patterned old Indian Airlines one, with the stylised flower
softly making its presence felt on the walls. I watched the
proceedings outside, from the window. The international finger
visible from the window had an Oman Air B738, an Indigo A320, and
an Air India A320 as well. An Air India A332 pushed back from
gate 34 as flight AI 439 to Chennai and Bengaluru. Captain Ravi
Shivshankar was in command, with Ms Nirmala the cabin supervisor.
The flight would got to Mumbai, then to Coimbatore, and on to
Calicut/Kozhikode. Captain Ravi Shivshankar made a very long and
powerful take-off from the new runway, runway 29, as we took off
and turned left very soon.

56.3 Let the digestive juices flow...

We had started boarding at 06:23 am.
The reader may have guessed what I am hinting at.
During the ascent itself, I had noted with avid anticipation, the
appetising smells permeating the cabin. Potatoes, my nose told me.
What was keeping them so long?
Each passing minute increased my misery.
The service started at 07:28 am.
The two young ladies in the front part of the cabin were cheerful
and chatty, and went about their job in a pleasant manner.
Much to my disappointment, the PTVs had the 5 video channels, but
the audio channels were not available. A while later, in an
attempt to perhaps rectify the problem, the system was rebooted,
and we ended up with just the moving map on the screens.

The tray had a bun, which was so-so: neither was it a soft,
absolutely melt-in-the-mouth piece, nor was it stale.
This surprised me a bit, since the catering was done by Taj-SATS.
The Taj group is famous for their baked products, among other items.
The butter chiplet had been warmed a bit, for the convenience of
passengers wishing to spread the goodness around.
Not for me, however.
As the reader knows, I enjoy the rock-hard piece of sin with any
bread item. The mixed fruit preserve was passable.
The fruit bowl excited me, since I sighted two pieces of
pineapple half-circles, and two papaya slices.
The pineapple half-circles looked like an intricate marble
carving, and was thoughtfully sweetened. The papaya was the
`disco' variety, which is easily available in Bengaluru and
Mumbai, and quite often, in Delhi, too.
The fruits had been loaded quite fresh, though as the reader
knows, I like fruit also to be chilled.
Old habits die hard.
Without fail, the die-hard creep that I am,
I end up peeping into what my neighbour is offered.
The vegetarian offering main course had a parAnThA/baroTA and
chhole/chanA (chick-peas).
My main box was a bit disappointing in its choice of items.
No, it is not that I do not like potatoes, or potato-based preparations.
However, the lack of planning (and other ingredients, too) put me off.
Toeing the Potatoes line! Come on Air India, why toe the
Mumbaikar line, where almost everything has to be based on potatoes?
The items were very tasty, however, and extremely well-done. All
were fried items, but they had been done in a minimum amount of
oil (it smelt like Olive oil!), and done very lightly.
To the right was an Alu TikkI, a flat cylindrical piece of mashed
potato with a generous mixture of chopped coriander. This piece
of sin circular in cross-section, had been fried ever so lightly,
that one could enjoy the taste, without feeling too guilty, or heavy,
after it had gone down the oesophagus.
There were some potato cubes at the right end, which had been
very lightly fried, with just a hint of cumin powder.
The middle had a very light and fluffy large omelette, which had
been done with finely chopped spring onions, and nothing else.
Air India often takes this part of catering very seriously:
having fried items, but done with very little oil, to score high
on the health scale, and certainly not compromising on taste.
It was the usual drab instant coffee to round things up, though it
was at least done strong, and was hot.
I sat down to work.

56.4 The halt at Mumbai

We approached Mumbai over the Thane creek. I was on the right
(starboard) side of the plane, and saw the Hiranandani Gardens,
IIT Bombay behind it, a bit of the Powai lake, and even a bit of
the Vihar lake, in the distance. Captain Ravi Shivshankar made a
feather-touch landing on Mumbai's main runway, 27. Visible in the
distance was a Dream)liner and a B777 on the Sahar-side Air India
hangar, an A332 and an A320 in the ertwhile Indian Airlines
hangar, and two Fedex planes in the middle, an A310F (I guess),
and an MD-11F. We parked at an aero-bridge at T1A. A Go Air dark
blue sharkletted plane made its way past us, to its parking post.
There was a change in the cabin crew team. I noticed three very
senior ladies, and a few young ones, but no one somewhere in
between. The cabin crew took to the inspection of the cleaning
very closely, and the cleaning staff did a very thorough job.
Ms. Saraswathi was the chief member of the cabin crew.

An interesting bird on a take-off run, an Egyptair B738.



The Captain came on the PA system at 10am, and announced that we
were number 6 in the take-off sequence. The plane had filled up
again by now, and I estimated the load to be around 90% or so,
with hardly a few empty seats visible in the Economy section.
Captain Ravi Shivshankar again made a long and powerful take-off,
from the main runway 27. At the holding point, behind us were
three wide-bodies: a Saudia B777, the Fedex MD-11F, and an
Emirates B777, with a Singapore Airlines B777 visible in the distance.
We took off over the Juhu beach, and after a while, turned right.

56.5 Food for thought, again!

The seat belts-off announcement came with the equally anticipated
one: that of a snack. Just after take-off, I thought I smelt
chicken tikkA (skewered chicken) being warmed. The cabin crew -
senior and young alike, went about their task quickly, for a
01:40 minute flight from Mumbai to Coimbatore. A very pleasant
surprise was that Air India had sent in their Engineering staff
to set the IFE problem right. I fiddled around with the controls,
and lo and behold, the five video channels came alive. To my
disappointment, the audio channels were still not available.
However, I tuned in to the film songs channel, which had quite a
few numbers from old films. That kept my ears occupied for the
duration of the food service, and the rest of the flight, as I
opened my laptop, and got to work.

The `snack' did not disappoint.
The catering was by Chefair, at Mumbai.
There was a small sandwich, which was very soft and tasted very
fresh. It had a white Mozzarella cheese filling, and a
coriander-based chutney. This set the tune for a hearty snack,
which was as filling in terms of quantity, as it was satisfying
in terms of the taste. The cutlery was not the silverware as was
on the previous leg, but this time, it was all run-of-the-mill
white plastic. The main course was superb. There was a vegetarian
flattened oval shape. I approached it a bit cautiously. Yes, it
had a potato mash as the essential ingredient to hold the rest of
it together (including the taste!). Inside were shredded carrots
and peas as well, while the outer covering had been rolled in
sesame seeds (`til' to the Delhi'ite), and fried ever so lightly.
There were four pieces of malAi chicken tikkA: chicken pieces
marinated in a rich cream base, with a hint of spices, and then
skewered to perfection. This was neither over-done, nor done
rare: the pieces simply melted in the mouth. If that was nice,
the dessert blew my senses away. Very few vegetables are used in
Indian sweets, carrots/gAjar and the white pumpkin/peThA
being two prominent ones. The dessert was a gAjar-kA-halwA: a
milk-based carrot preparation, which was done just the way I like
it. Delhi'ites often follow the short-cut of separately boiling
shredded carrots in sugar syrup, and mixing in khowA: solidified
desiccated milk, which is often garnished with dry fruits. This
is almost a standard item in marriage parties in Delhi in the
winter, but an item whose short-cut preparation,
I do not look forward to. In this case,
the shredded carrots had been lovingly cooked in milk over a slow
flame, which ensured that while the milk was solidifying (it was
left in a semi-solid state), the flavours from the carrot had
seeped into the milk, lending it a rich orange colour. If there
were pieces of chopped pistachios (`pistA') on top as garnishing,
would I not be on Cloud Nine? I was, indeed. I was rudely
brought down to earth by the Plebeian instance coffee, which was
at least strong and hot, though I cannot find any other
appreciative qualities to describe the brew.

However, I have only appreciation directed to Captain Ravi
Shivshankar. He made a faultless landing at the Peelamedu
Airport in Coimbatore, on runway 23. There was a slight wind
shear prior to landing, a bit of turbulence, and we seemed to
come in a bit quickly. He flared the plane out beautifully, and
executed a perfect landing, for the second time in the day.

56.6 At Coimbatore

This was my first view of the new terminal building at the
Peelamedu airport, at Coimbatore.



A sad sight of two NEPC F-27 aircraft lying in front of the terminal:



As I stepped out of the plane, I met Captain Ravi Shivshankar on
the aero-bridge, and expressed my appreciation for two faultless
landings. He was exchanging pleasantries with the ground staff,
but turned to me, gave me a shy smile, and thanked me for the appreciation.

My first impressions of the new terminal building were quite
nice. It was neat and clean all around. The truss structure on
the top looked quit nice.





My eyes had searched around for the old terminal, and it was only
on coming out of the terminal that my host pointed it out to me,
else I may not have even noticed it.
More about this, in the return trip.
The luggage took some time to come, coming in on the third trip,
from a tractor-driver baggage box, to one of the two domestic
belts (I saw one more in the international arrivals area.) It was
hot and humid outside, though not as hot as it was in Delhi. My
work was in Peelamedu itself, and I knew that I would have to
forego lunch, since my services were needed at 01:15 pm itself.

It was a hectic trip, like many others.
Food-wise, it had not been a big adventure.
I had avoided lunch on 08 May, but descended on my dinner like a
hungry wolf. The dinner was what I knew to be a set dosA, though
frankly, I am a bit at a loss to find the crucial points of
difference between a set dosA, and a small utthapa(m), except for
some subtle differences in the basic batter. The small, soft and
round treats had been lightly fried, and would go with an
extremely spicy Sambhar. It must have been the `set dosA', since
I had an un-set-tlingly large set of the delicacy, which
thankfully did not cause a stomach up-set. I was dog-tired, and
just as every dog has its day, it must have a good night's sleep, too.
I hit the bed, and was soon fast asleep. The next morning's
breakfast had the more common crisp dosA (albeit of a similar
size), which is served in hotels (the food kind) in most parts of
India. Lunch was very conventional, with chappAtIs, a dry cabbage
preparation with lots of shredded coconut, in addition to
sambhar, rasam, a dAl (pulses), and curd/yogurt.
I had to finished it quicker than I had anticipated,
as the vehicle to take me to the airport came in on time.

56.7 The Peelamedu airport at Coimbatore

The itinerary for my return trip was as follows:

Set out 09 May (Thu) for New Delhi from Coimbatore
AI 658: Air India (A321) [Seat: 11F; PNR: JRJTK]
Peelamedu Airport, Coimbatore - CSIA T1, Mumbai - IGIA T3, New Delhi
Coimbatore (CJB) - Mumbai (BOM) - New Delhi (DEL)
[03:05 pm - 04:55 pm; 06:00 pm - 08:05 pm]

I had known Coimbatore to be Tamil Nadu's third largest city,
after Chennai and Madurai, though I remember reading about
Coimbatore having perhaps taken the second place, on what
account, I forget - was it the population, or the area? I had not
got any time to explore the city, or its environs, for lack of
time. The Peelamedu area looked like any modern big city in
India, with wide roads, big malls and shopping centres, and heavy
traffic. This is quite unlike Madurai, which still retains its
old-world charm, and slightly laid-back lifestyle.

The driver took me along a short-cut, to the Coimbatore
International Airport. It was here that I noticed the old
terminal. The new building was constructed just beside the old
one, with the old one given a new facade. The departures section
is still primarily housed in the old building, and the difference
between the two is quite obvious. To the credit of the Airports
Authority of India (AAI), the old building is relatively
well-maintained. Some parts of the old structure also seem to
have been extended to house the International departures section,
and the two gates 6 and 7 on the first floor, which link to the
new construction. The air-side glass and steel facade is new.
There were two check-in counters active at that time for the Air
India flight to Mumbai and Delhi. While the check-in was a
breeze, the security check took quite a while. There was only one
X-ray machine in operation. Before the check-in, Coimbatore has
joined the large set of airports in India with renovated, or new
terminals, but without an in-line baggage handling facility.
Passengers have to queue up at two X-ray machines to get their
baggage scanned, tagged, and then head towards the check-in
counter. At the time of writing, I guess only the airports at
Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad have in-line check-in facilities.



The waiting areas on the ground floor have a few power ports, and
quite a few shops. Indigo flight 6E 294 announced boarding from
gate 3 on the ground floor. A mass of humanity descended on the
gates, in what looked like a very full flight. An air-conditioned
Indigo bus drove up to the gate. Our plane landed at 02:20 pm on
runway 23, and an aero-bridge inched towards the plane,
expectantly. The Indigo A320 pushed back almost in synchronism.
The announcement asked passengers to go to Gate 6 on the first
floor. Yes, the staircase is just adjacent to the ground floor
domestic baggage belts. However, the holding area for the gates
is a tiny one, with not enough space to seat a full A319 for
instance, leave alone an A321. We boarded on time. Our ride for
the day would be PV, the `Boyle's Law' plane, VT-PPV.
Captain K. S. Gujral was in command. I seemed to recount the
first officer as the same gentleman on my flight the previous
day. He had come out when the boarding started. Ms Suchitra was
the chief of the cabin crew. We pushed back at 02:53 pm. It was a
very full flight. I was one of the first to board the plane, and
counted 6 passengers in the Business class. They were to be
joined by at least three more, since I saw three passengers with
Business Class boarding passes in their hands right in front of
the gate, at the airport.

56.8 (Another) Lunch...on a post-3pm flight!

I found someone seated on 11F, my pre-assigned seat, the first
window seat I could select at the time of booking. I went up to
him an softly told him that 11F was my seat. He shifted to 11E
without much ado. This would affect my dietary preferences.
What! I urge the reader to read on.

Here is a view of the CJB control tower.



The Economy section was almost completely full - there were only
very few seats vacant, perhaps 2 or 3. A very pleasant
announcement came on after the seat belt signs went off.
Lunch would be served on the flight!
Was I on a unique domestic flight on which both lunch and dinner
would be served - that would be a pleasant surprise! Wasn't 3:30
pm a bit too late for lunch? Well, not for me, at least!
The reader may remember that I had already had lunch at Coimbatore.
The service started at 3:20 pm, and I got
my tray 10 minutes later. I was on seat 11F, and the
non-vegetarian trays ran out at seat 11E. Had I not displaced the
gentleman from 11F and sat down on the middle seat (a distasteful
thought, but then, I usually opt for the non-vegetarian offering,
as the regular reader knows by now). The young lady serving
passengers in this part of the cabin was extremely apologetic
about this, but I accepted the vegetarian tray with a smile. As
is my wont, up to this point, I had enjoyed the audio selection
on board on the Thales i3000 IFE. There were 12 - yes, the full
complement of audio channels. two of which had old film songs.
As the meal service started, I tried the video channels. There
were 4 out of the 6 with programmes on them, one had film songs
as well. I selected this one to accompany the lunch offering.

The meal started with an Indian `green' salad. There were two
slices of the orange carrot (known as `vilAyatI gAjar' in Delhi,
quite similar to the Nilgiri carrot, a smaller and stubbier
version of the same, which grows in the Ooty hills and the
adjoining regions. There was some green capsicum (`bell pepper'
to the American), and most of it had sliced cucumber pieces.
There was a lime wedge to go with it, and a small piece of an
aromatic but not-hot-at-all green chilly. There was nothing
special about the presentation, but it tasted fresh, and set me
up for a nice meal. The main box had a small layered Malabar
baroTA/lacchhA parAnThA
on top, which was done well, without much
oil, to boot. The inside of the box had some fine-grained
aromatic rice in the middle. To the right was a lovely dry
preparation of Lady Finger (Okra to the American), with shredded
coconut liberally sprinkled around, and tossed around lightly
with finely sliced onions, some tomato, and mustard seeds.
Mmm...On the right was a curry, which had Bottle Gourd slices (my
neighbour's dish had the same replaced with chicken) in a thick
semi-solid gravy that pleased my senses in no small measure. It
had some cream, some groundnut (`peanut' to the American) paste,
a hint of shredded coconut, which had been tossed lightly with
mustard seeds and some kaDhI pattA/curry leaves.It was simply
heavenly! The dessert was a nice kshIra-pongal, a pulses-based
sweet, where pulses had been boiled and mashed to a paste, some
jaggery to sweeten it, and some dry fruits to garnish it. This
was a great way to finish the...wait, there was a beverage
service, too. An eager beaver like me likes beverages, but
nothing was the rage there...there was nothing to rave about. The
coffee the previous day on the BOM-CJB leg was such that I could
at least appreciate the strength and the temperature. In this
case, it was just the latter. This was a very disappointing end
to a nice meal. The trays were cleared as promptly as the
service had been conducted. I appreciate how Air India still
serves a lunch at this late hour, on a quarter-to-two-hours
flight. This was May, 2013, a few months before the Air India
austeritymeasures would come into force.
I sat down on my laptop again.

56.9 At Mumbai again, en route to Delhi

Captain K. S. Gujral landed the aircraft like a feather, on the
main runway 27 at Mumbai's CSI Airport. There was a PIA A310
holding at the 27 end.



Among other interesting wide-bodies, there was an Air India B777
in one hanger at that end, with an Air India Express B738 in the
adjacent hangar. An Air India B744 was at one of the international
gates, with two Jet Airways B738s as neighbours. There was an El Al
B763 at another gate. We parked at T1A, with PPL, the `proletariat'
plane VT-PPL, parked to our right, which pushed back soon, at 04:55 pm.
There was a change of cabin crew at Mumbai, as the security
staff, and the cleaning group got into action inside the plane.
The crew rebooted the IFE, where it became amply clear what the
Operating System was on the Thales i3000: an old version of
Linux, with LILO as the boot loader. Most IFE systems are based
on Linux. All this attention to my favourite Operating System was
to be ominous, as the IFE crashed soon after this.



Soon, the plane filled up at a rapid pace, with not a single
vacant seat in the Economy section, at least. We pushed back at
04:55 pm, towards runway 27. We took a detour near the
international terminal, went along, and again joined the queue
for the main runway 27 take-offs. There was an Indigo A320 on the
threshold, waiting for take-off, followed by a Jet Konnect ATR-72
(in the new colours). There was an Emirates B773 right in front
of us, which instead of getting to the runway after the ATR-72,
turned right into a taxiway, and much to my surprise, went back
to the terminal, and docked at a gate. I wonder why!

56.10 A snack, again!

Captain Gujral executed a very long and powerful take-off towards
the west, and we turned right as usual, some time after crossing
the Juhu beach, went parallel to the coastline, passed the Golden
Pagoda, and went on with the usual air route to Delhi. The
pleasant announcement was music to my ears, as usual.
However, I was mistaken in my earlier high dreamy hopes of
culinary bliss, to have both llunch and dinner served on the same
domestic flight. It would be a snack, and not a meal.
The Mumbai-Delhi dinner flights start from the 7pm one, whereas
this was the 6pm flight. Always the optimist, after the very
pleasant lunch surprise, I was half-expecting to get dinner on
the same domestic flight too. The catering was by Taj-SATS.
And what a snack this turned out to be!
I got my usual choice of a non-vegetarian tray.
There was a white bread coleslaw sandwich to start culinary
matters. I approached it hesitantly, and took a small nibble.
The bread literally melted into the mouth. The Taj lineage of the
bread was crystal clear, and it had also been baked a short while
back, that was what the taste indicated. It has been quite a
while since I have been able to sample bread this fresh. There
was a generous filling of shredded lettuce and carrot in the
coleslaw sauce base, and it was simply incredible.
I opened the main box with gusto.
To the right was a quiche.
No, it was not the usual Air India spinach-and-sweet corn
Mozzarella cheese quiche, nor was it a Chicken quiche. The green
was not the bottle green of spinach, it was the olive green of
capsicum; the cheese was not the soft white Mozzarella, it was
the harder Cheddar, which had been molten for a patron's
gastronomic delight. There was a hint of tomato as well, lending
it a slight pizza-like taste. The quiche base was soft, and
tasted extremely fresh. I was delighted to no end.
There were four Barbecued chicken fingers. This was very well
done, but would have gone better with BBQ sauce, not the tomato
sauce/ketchup sachet that was served with it, but I guess I
cannot nitpick here. It would not make economic sense to have
this specific sauce as opposed to something that goes along well
with almost everything.
At least, that is what the avergae American feels, I guess.
The dessert took the cake.
My appetite deserted me after I had finished the last crumb.
It was not love at first bite.
At first slight. I had been a bit suspicious of the dry cake, a
large cup-cake. Would it be the run-of-the-mill `mAwA cake' that
one gets in Mumbai? When I brought the small bowl close to my
nostrils, I was glad to be proved completely wrong. An extremely
inviting aroma of ghee (clarified butter) set my digestive juices
into an over-drive. The outer covering had a slightly different
taste, and was a bit harder (and sweeter) as compared to what was
inside. The generous sprinkling of finely chopped miscellaneous
dry fruits on the top - it must have been done when the cake was
about three-fourths done, since the sprinkling had embedded
itself into the top layer of the cake, and some part of the taste
had permeated into the middle of the cake, while retaining some
of its original character, on the top. The coffee brought me down
to earth. It was hot, and surprisingly strong (had the person's
hand slipped while putting in the powder from the coffee powder
jar, into the boiling water?), but it was the same flat bland
brand of instant coffee that passes off as the standard `coffee'
in most parts of India. The trays were cleared out quickly, again.

56.11 The fifth `C': Conclusion

Captain Gujral made a very smooth landing on the new runway 29 at
Delhi. While I was getting out, so was the Captain, and I thanked
him for a lovely landing. Point blank, he told me that all credit
for the landing should go to the First Officer, who had executed
the feather-touch landing, and quickly absolved himself of all
responsibility of executing a nice flight, all with a big smile
on his face, much to the amusement of the cabin crew, and the
ground staff all around.
The senior Sikh gentleman seems like an extremely jovial person.
My bags came out on time, and soon, I was on my way home!
---
Links to my 56 trip reports:
https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3591
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks sir one more time for the TR

The differential currently is this May to Nov sir..

Hope you finish it before year end ! Smile

Regarding the gujju population being in CJB which you mentioned, from an aviation angle, there were efforts to connect them
IT used to operate PNQ-BLR-CJB-AMD-IXJ-AMD-CJB-BLR-PNQ rotation for a short while on A319s
It tried establishing the textile link between CJB-AMD and also the vaishno devi link between AMD-IXJ
Both of that failed

Two seasons ago, 9W/S2 made the cut with AMD-BLR-CJB-MAA-CCU and v.v rotation which I am told does very well

Looks like given a chance, you can trash the recomendations od dholakia committe or even better
link the bonus of AI-FA's to the time in which food is served post take off Very Happy

As for take off from BOM, did you turn left or right sir ? I suppose you would turn left and take air way Whisky 28 which goes over PNQ and towards BLR


On the return was the 9W ATR 72 in new colors the ATR72-6 ?

Thanks again for the TR
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Sir - both for the kind words, as well as the constant pushes to take charge of the TR fiscal deficit Smile
Thank you for the in-depth analysis of the CJB-Gujarat air routes: I had only heard the exotic cultural mix and the `Saurashtra' links, but was completely blank about the air routes tried by different airlines. As an analyst, you would know why IT failed and 9W/S2 succeeded: a layperson as I would be really curious to know this. Competitive fares/convenient timings? IT did not have too many A319s: three, by any chance? From my notes, I see circa 2008: IT600 DEL-IXC [09:10 am - 10:00 am], IT605 IXC-DEL [05:40 pm - 06:30 pm]; circa 2009: IT600 DEL-IXC [09:35 am - 10:25 am], IT605 IXC-DEL [05:40 pm - 06:30 pm]; two of the flights we have talked about before was IT3150 PNQ-DEL [06:15 am - 08:15 am], IT3151 DEL-PNQ [11:30 am - 01:30 pm]. All were A319 runs.
On T?O from BOM's main runway 27, did we turn left or right? My mind was not on the right track, and my senses had left me, since I was more interested in guessing what food would be served, to notice the turn (of events). Was the AT7 an AT7-5 or AT7-6? Sir, I am still quite fuzzy on the difference, at least from a distance, and from the outside, the 9W fleet are generally very clean and well-maintained (they are very well maintained from the inside as well, but that is not the point, obviously), so for a novice like me, it is a bit hard to make out.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. Regarding the CJB-AMD routing, there is more traffic from AMD to CJB for day return flights than from CJB to AMD, so reverse direction flights make an impact. Although 9W has now started a CJB-BLR-AMD in the morning, the AMD-BLR-CJB does better than the reverse in the mornings as was told to me.
Also, because of the one stop, they capture a lot of traffic on AMD-BLR segment on which they are the first flight of the day.
The BLR-CJB flight also has inbound connections from BOM & PNQ. When a colleague traveled last year, there were about 22 pax who connected to PNQ flight at BLR on the return leg.
In absence of morning BOM-CJB flight, untill recently, this was the first conxn from BOM to CJB

2. IT did have 3 A319s, mostly came in the first lot - VT KFH/I/J.
All were 144Y with PTV. While later when the airline started crumbling in 2009/10, VT-KFH was the first one to have covers put on the PTVs when they stopped working and IT did not have money to repair them

3. I assume you turned left and went southwards towards CJB after T/O from rwy 27, because if one turns right, there is a lot of traffic that you have to cross and join the path towards CJB

4. I have not seen a AT72-6 myself and I am very weak with 9W fleet generally, but since only 1 AT72 is based out of BOM for 9W and the new colors sync with the AT72-6 I think it could be the same
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great informative post, Sir!
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avbuff
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

very informative TR thanks for sharing,

IIRC Air Arabia and Silk Air are the only 2 international services out of CJB right?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

avbuff wrote:
very informative TR thanks for sharing,

IIRC Air Arabia and Silk Air are the only 2 international services out of CJB right?


Yes. 5w SHJ-CJB and 4w SIN-CJB
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

avbuff wrote:
very informative TR thanks for sharing,
IIRC Air Arabia and Silk Air are the only 2 international services out of CJB right?
Thank you for the appreciation: coming from a respected Industry insider, I value this immensely. I also see that Abhijith has beaten me black and blue in replying even before I could recount what was written on the little poster board in front of the terminal!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My reply couldn't have come earlier, and I do apologize for that. Rolling Eyes
As is always is, another brilliant TR, and its back to the old TR type, with the most important aspect of all - food Very Happy

First of all, I'd shamefully admit right here: I always thought Coimbatore is in Kerala. Its only after reading this TR I found out how horrendously misinformed I was, all this time. And I'm good in geography (surely not with cities and states....) Embarassed

A C alliteration! Reminds me of my Comprehensively Contrasting Cathay trip! Very Happy
A brilliant insight and introduction into CJB, I learnt quite a lot (with the most obvious... CJB is in TN Rolling Eyes ) I don't think I'd ever know all of that!

I find it rather surprising that the new AI A321s have a 'wallpaper'. Is it something similar to the ones on the AI B747s? If not, could you describe that a bit more..? Apologies for my lack of knowledge..

It was nice to see another round of Sumantra type food descriptions, however, from what I gather - it left you on the downside a bit.. (DEL-BOM breakfast..)

Just to share - EgyptAir used to send in A332s on the route CAI-BOM-KUL-BOM-CAI route. Interesting. All those good times have gone, sadly Sad

I'm quite surprised - well, the IFE wasn't working, but the inconsistency in the food presentation - the different types of cutlery! I do not find this on Jet - they always have given steel cutlery, I've rarely seen plastic stuff!

So far, I have been quite lucky to get my preference of food, (not BoBs. I never get my preference there). But your incident was just pure bad luck! How did they manage to run out of non veg food only in row 11 is quite a surprise to me!

About the differences between ATR72-500s and ATR72-600s, for now, its only knowledge and good eyesight (to note the registration...or to actually see if its -500 or -600). There is no physical visual differences at the moment (there never would be perhaps..!)

I look forward to reading your BBI TR now Smile

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
A C alliteration! Reminds me of my Comprehensively Contrasting Cathay trip!
Sir, need I add that thatTR title was the inspiration for this? It is right there for all of us to C!
jbalonso777 wrote:
I do not find this on Jet - they always have given steel cutlery, I've rarely seen plastic stuff!
Jet's presentation has always been very good, in general. I used to like presentation on Kingfisher as well. Air India and the then Indian Airlines have perhaps always lagged behind on this aspect.
jbalonso777 wrote:
I look forward to reading your BBI TR now Smile

Thank you, and thank you for the kind words! I look forward to your detailed comments, as usual.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely full-featured TR - 4 sectors with 4 meals, 4 landings and the works! Awesome!

I did not know about the Gujarat/Coimbatore historical connection, hence was surprised to find a good Gujju friend in our apartment complex - actually hails from Coimbatore and is as fluent in Tamil as in Gujarati! Your TR helps explains a part of that mystery...
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
4 sectors with 4 meals, 4 landings and the works!
Yes, you know what I love Razz
Nimish wrote:
I did not know about the Gujarat/Coimbatore historical connection
I learnt this in the course of one of my Madurai visits, and was quite pleasantly surprised. Ameya of course, has given us the much bigger picture.
Thanks once again for the kind words, Sir!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the detailed report.

Coimbatore also has a large marwari community and from what I remember most of the gold shops are owned by them.

As for the batter the fresh batter is used for dosa's and once it goes sour it used for Uthapa.

I am curious to know in Bombay did you deplane or were you seated in the aircraft when the cleaning was being carried on?

Thanks and sorry for the late response as I am having challenges posting response on this forum.

Sri_Bom
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Srinivas! You have documented your problem with posting on the forum: I really wonder if others have also faced the same issues.

sri_bom wrote:
Coimbatore also has a large marwari community and from what I remember most of the gold shops are owned by them.
This is quite interesting, Sir, but I guess it should be `Mum's the word', lest The Wife ask me to investigate this issue on my next Golden opportunity to visit the place!

sri_bom wrote:
As for the batter the fresh batter is used for dosa's and once it goes sour it used for Uthapa.
Sir, I guess there are some variants. I have been a big fan of the iconic S. Meenakshi Ammal cookbook, `samaithu pAr (literally, Cook and See). Papa does not share my love for the divine cuisines from the South, more so because of his delicate digestion. However, he used to have a 1950s edition of this iconic book, which fuelled many of my childhood fantasies for the same. This book was one of the casualties of many a house shifting operation. However, I clearly remember the recipes for a dosa(i) made from a three-day old batter, for instance. There must be a few other differences between different regions in the South as well, for instance. Especially between Kannadigas and Tamilians, since they have traditionally not seen eye-to-eye in many recipes (rasam, for instance, off the top of my (rapidly balding) head).

sri_bom wrote:
I am curious to know in Bombay did you deplane or were you seated in the aircraft when the cleaning was being carried on?
we were on the plane on both legs (of the journey, that is - not on our toes, thankfully Razz)!

Thanks a lot once again, Srinivas!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should apologize for such a late reply to another magnificent TR!

I was quite busy with the new video (http://youtu.be/il3BVLG9fM8) and other stuff that I missed out AI India for a while!

Good to see you coming down to CJB this time!

Now, why not come down east a bit to Kochi and sample some of the seafood here? Very Happy

Quote:
This surprised me a bit, since the catering was done by Taj-SATS.


The classic food descriptions have me hungry again. Tajsats do a marvelous job in catering I've noted.

Quote:
I fiddled around with the controls,
and lo and behold, the five video channels came alive.


Nice that they fixed it. Unlike just leaving it be.

Quote:
, and would go with an
extremely spicy Sambhar.


Personally I think the Kerala Sambhar is better than the Tamil Nadu version. Although, that's obviously what a Malayali would say.

Quote:
56.7 The Peelamedu airport at Coimbatore


The airport looks good, a bit on the small side though.

Quote:
At the time of writing, I guess only the airports at
Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad have in-line check-in facilities.


Ah ha! But, no! Small town COK has in line stuff as well. Just at the international terminal though!

Quote:
We boarded on time. Our ride for
the day would be PV, the `Boyle's Law' plane, VT-PPV.


Guess who flew on her last month!

Quote:
There was a PIA A310
holding at the 27 end.


Nice catch! She's a beauty.

Quote:
And what a snack this turned out to be!


It sounds heavenly! Lovely descriptions again!

Quote:
Point blank, he told me that all credit
for the landing should go to the First Officer, who had executed
the feather-touch landing, and quickly absolved himself of all
responsibility of executing a nice flight, all with a big smile
on his face, much to the amusement of the cabin crew, and the
ground staff all around.


What a lovely bunch! Glad to hear the crew are enjoying their jobs!

Overall, AI seemed quite good and the TR was excellent. I enjoyed reading it!

Cheers!

Adi,

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
I was quite busy with the new video (http://youtu.be/il3BVLG9fM8) and other stuff that I missed out AI India for a while!
Sir, thanks - not just for the kind words, thanks for the sneak preview of a wonderful video TR too! As usual, superb editing, lovely lilting music, great pictures (those clouds in the air, the landings seen from the extreme end of T1 at HKG, the food pictures and descriptions, the sounds in the airport and on the plane) all add to the magic of going through your video TRs.

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Now, why not come down east a bit to Kochi and sample some of the seafood here?
Sir, I fly only on official work, and when I have enough points for the family, the family flies as well Smile We have been to Kochi-Ernakulam once in a hurried trip, where yes: we visited the oldest Church, and then the Chinese fishing nets, and then got so hungry that we patronised a road-side stall. The fresh catch, with the amazing combination of spices Malayalis can dish out - was just wonderful, with steaming hot appams: both the veLa-appam and the delightful iddi-appam.


Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Personally I think the Kerala Sambhar is better than the Tamil Nadu version. Although, that's obviously what a Malayali would say.
Now, you get me deeply interested. I thought about this deeply, and wondered: I have had the sambhar in the other three states, and noted subtle differences - I have not exactly ever had the Kerala version! Can you please describe this in more detail? I have had more of the Udupi-style one, the Mangalorean one, the Tamilian sambhar and the kuzhambu, but shockingly for a glutton, never the Mallu one. Needless to say, I am waiting for your reply with bated breath.


Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Ah ha! But, no! Small town COK has in line stuff as well. Just at the international terminal though!
This is really wonderful news. I have heard a lot about the terminal as well, and seen it in your videos and pictures, which increases my longing to visit the city. I hope I get some official work there, soon. I'll probably like to take one of the Air India international connectors, to experience the International terminal.

Thanks a lot, Adithya - waiting eagerly for your reply!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Sir, thanks - not just for the kind words, thanks for the sneak preview of a wonderful video TR too!


I'm very glad you liked it sir. But, it looks like I'll be a bit late for the AI India part of the TR.

Quote:
where yes: we visited the oldest Church, and then the Chinese fishing nets, and then got so hungry that we patronised a road-side stall. The fresh catch, with the amazing combination of spices Malayalis can dish out - was just wonderful, with steaming hot appams: both the veLa-appam and the delightful iddi-appam.


I am glad you enjoyed the food around here. The traditional 'Thattu Kada's' or road side stalls do house some of the best food!

Quote:
I thought about this deeply, and wondered: I have had the sambhar in the other three states, and noted subtle differences - I have not exactly ever had the Kerala version! Can you please describe this in more detail?


Sir, honestly my culinary knowledge is pitiful and I'm usually too busy tucking in to note the ingredients. As such, some of the other members here will probably provide a better description. But, here are my observations on the usual no-nonsense central version :

-I think the prime difference is the addition of potatoes in Kerala Sambar. This adds a bit of richness to the flavor and also makes the broth thicker. And which I think, is the game changer.
-Also a higher percent of dal is used I believe, which thickens up the broth even more.
-This version is only mildly spicy as compared to the Tamil and Udupi versions.
-The overall flavor is much more intense than the other versions because of the thicker broth. And as a result, the taste as well!

Of course this is based on my personal observations from trying out the TN, AP & Udupi Sambar varieties.

I hope what I've said is accurate, as I'm not really an expert on cuisines.

Quote:
I have heard a lot about the terminal as well, and seen it in your videos and pictures, which increases my longing to visit the city.


Sir, in reality the terminal is pretty crappy. Nowhere near the likes of DEL/HYD/BLR or even little TRV for that matter!

Cheers!

Adi,

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
I'm very glad you liked it sir. But, it looks like I'll be a bit late for the AI India part of the TR.
Even if it is late, it will be worth the wait for me, given that I have seen this superb preview of things to come.

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
But, here are my observations on the usual no-nonsense central version:
-I think the prime difference is the addition of potatoes in Kerala Sambar. This adds a bit of richness to the flavor and also makes the broth thicker. And which I think, is the game changer.
-Also a higher percent of dal is used I believe, which thickens up the broth even more.
-This version is only mildly spicy as compared to the Tamil and Udupi versions.
-The overall flavor is much more intense than the other versions because of the thicker broth. And as a result, the taste as well!

Sir, this level of detail is more than enough for me, to look forward to this. I think you can add coconut oil being a part of the ingredients as well, for that subtle difference in taste, as opposed to mustard oil (to heighten the flavour of the mustard seeds), or groundnut oil, often used as the cooking medium in other sAmbhars. I have admired how Mallu dishes can range from the divinely spicy to the delightfully plain: the unique potato stew for instance, which goes really well with the iddi-appam. We Delihi'ites are unfortunate to get some watery sAmbhar at most Southie outlets, with only some bottle gourd, or if one is lucky, some drum-stick pieces floating around - irrespective of whether it is a Tamilian joint, or an Udupi one (these two are unfortunately the more popular in Delhi). Come on Delhi'ites...sAmbhar is supposed to have almost any seasonal vegetable, and can be cooked with a bare minimum amount of oil, and the consistency is certainly not too watery (I know that Kannadigas from South Karnataka have sAmbhar with different consistencies at different times of the day).
Cheers, Sumantra.
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