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B2B: Bandit 2 BBI & Back. Odissi Odyssey. May'13

 
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:56 pm    Post subject: B2B: Bandit 2 BBI & Back. Odissi Odyssey. May'13 Reply with quote

B2B: Bandit 2 BBI & Back. Odissi Odyssey. May'13


This report can be found at the following URL:
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13530.html

57.1 Titular Trouble. Explanations Galore.

As always, I assign a weird title to most of my trip reports, and spend
a good (?) number of words trying to explain my choice of words, and actions.
B2B of course, is a bad pun on the corresponding
abbreviation which IT/MBA people usually use. The term `bandit'
indicates the name by which I usually refer to the Canadair
CRJ-700, which looks like a masked bandit to me, given the
arrangement of the cockpit windows, and the short and sharp nose
of the plane. It would be a masked bandit trip on both sides for
me. It would be my second Odissi Odyssey, the first trip to
Orissa coming as late as December 2008, about 5 years back.
Orissa or Odisha as the state is known now, had been a must-visit
destination on my to-see list, for a very long time.
Why would I go in for the `masked bandit'?

I had some official work till very late on 17 May 2013, and had
to be in Bhubaneshwar by 10am, for some official work. There was
no way I could have taken the night flight from Delhi to
Bhubaneshwar on 17 May, so the only option was the first morning
flight, which would get me to Bhubaneshwar on time.

Set out 18 May (Sat) for Bhubaneshwar from New Delhi
AI 9601: Air India (CRJ7) [Seat: 03A; PNR: Z49Q5]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneshwar
New Delhi (DEL) - Bhubaneshwar (BBI)
[05:50 am - 07:50 am]

It was of course a complete bonus for me, and I looked forward to
my second and third flights on the type. I find the CR7 an
interesting plane - not quite good looking, but `interesting',
nevertheless. The stubby short T-tail with the compressed `Air
India' titles and the `Flying Swan' livery in my opinion, looks
quite fascinating on this plane, though the small spread-out
windows look a bit odd in the `Flying Swan' livery - that is my
personal opinion, of course. I have always been fascinated by
small aircraft and their interiors, they are `wannabe' large
planes, but somewhat of small scale models, with the space being
rather limited inside. The baggage compartments are almost the
same as those in the Air India ATR-42s, so I had to get my small
backpack with me, in place of my usual larger one. In almost all
airlines, larger backpacks are sometimes taken in at the gate
itself: in the plane, or on the tarmac, and put in the baggage
hold. This sometimes happens with insufficient documentation on
the bag, so I avoid this (though I have been lucky on all
occassions, on Air India ATR-42s, and one trip on a Continental
Express ERJ-145 on 31 March, 2005). The other reason of course,
is that I like to have my laptop, camera, reading material, and
travel file with me at all times, in the cabin. A near-empty bag
usually goes into the cabin baggage compartment, and therefore,
usually fits in very well.

And what about the return flight?
I had a few choices.
The Air India afternoon flight would not have been possible.
Air India now has three flights a day to this popular tourist
destination of the East, and I could have opted for the evening
flight. However, I knew that I would compromise on my rest period
- I would hardly get any sleep on the night of 17 May, and a
hectic return back to Delhi would have left me very tired. I
usually avoid a same-day turnaround, since it gets too tiring for
me. I wanted to get back as soon as possible though. The first
flight was luckily the CR7 flight again, coming back from Port
Blair (IXZ) to Delhi, via Bhubaneshwar. The regular/traditional
Air India Bhubaneshwar-Delhi flight is the early afternoon one,
which sets out from Bhubaneshwar in less than an hour after this
one, but I wanted to take in as much of the CR7 experience as
possible, possibly at the cost of a larger meal. However, I would
also reach home quicker. In a win-win situation, would I avoid a
CR7 trip? No, not me!

57.2: A Hectic Trip Begins...

My day had started as an extension to the previous one, with me
hitting the bed around 01:30 am, after having set a loud 03:15 am
alarm. The taxi would come in at 03:45 am, to take me to the IGI
Airport Terminal 3, at New Delhi. I ignored my hunger pangs as I
got ready, dutifully performed my morning tasks, and reached the
airport well on time.

The check-in and security were a breeze. The Air India Dream)liner
services had started a few days back. I noticed an A332 on a
domestic wide-body gate: one facing the international gates. This
would be either the morning Chennai flight AI 439, or the
Bengaluru flight, AI 803. It turned out to be the former, as the
latter was to be operated by the `cancellation' plane VT-ANL
`Annul'. The `cancellation' plane was surprisingly parked at one
of the gates which usually Jet Airways operates from, towards the
middle of the cup-shaped section facing south. This would be a
regular feature at this gate, in the months to come.
I noticed the registration after there was a bit more
light all around. The beauty-conscious ANL was getting a facial done.
There were two `masked bandits' on the remote gates facing south,
VT-RJB and RJE. Which one would we get? We got JE, the `Junior
Engineer' plane. Another surprise was the presence of an old Air
India A320 at the same remote lot. It was ESC, the `escapist'
plane, VT-ESC. Some distance away from us was the ABA: the `Swedish Band'
plane, an Air India regional AT4, in the old Alliance Air
colours. An Air India B77L, VT-ALD `Gujarat' went past us, and
took off from runway 29. The early morning take-offs were from
runway 10, which had given me a sliver of hope of perhaps flying
right over our residence, but that was not to be.

Captain Brahm Prakash made a very long and informative announcement
of the route, flight and weather details. In the cockpit with him
was First Officer Girish Sharma, and Ms. Kiran was in charge of
the cabin, with Ms. Geena to help her in her duties.
These were the two members of the cabin crew on board, both
cheerful middle-aged ladies. The weather would hold good for most
of the flight, except some rain on approach to Port Blair, which
would get its first monsoon shower today, said the Captain.

Here is a picture of the interior of our plane.



...and the seat.



Two bus loads of passengers completely filled up the plane, with
the exception of two seats. Boarding had commenced 10 minutes
before schedule at 05:10 am itself, but the slight wait for two
passengers resulted in us pushing back at 06:00 am, against the
05:50 am start time. I had seen an Air India bus pulling up near
the plane, but since I was drifting in and out of sleep, I missed
the part if the two passengers had indeed stepped in. The plane
looked quite full, so I assumed that they had, indeed.
The CR7 does well on long and thin routes, and Air India has made
a good capacity match on the Delhi-Port Blair route. Moreover,
with such load factors, the airline should do well on this route.
The Captain announced a 2 hour flight to Bhubaneshwar, a
half-an-hour half at Bhubaneshwar, and then a nearly 2 hour
flight into Port Blair. I looked longingly at those headed
onwards to Port Blair - I would love to visit the place!
Air India Regional is the ex-Alliance Air, which after retiring
the JT8D powered pocket-rocket noisy B732s, had taken delivery of
the ATR-42s and CRJ-700s. This had been an interesting move by
the then Indian Airlines, to have a subsidiary airline for the
short-haul network, to differentiate it from the longer flights
of its parent company, Indian Airlines.

57.3 Up, up and...away! Breaking the fast...fast

Captain Brahm Prakash took the second taxiway from the eastern
side - the point which gave the effective runway length as 3919
metres, and took off from runway 29, and made a near about turn.
Once again, I experienced the steep angle of attack, a typical
`bandit' take-off, and we levelled off quickly. The captain
switched off the seat belt signs, and there were announcements
galore. If there was anything passengers needed, the cabin crew
were just a call button press away. What?
There had been no announcement of any thing which remotely
pointed to any food being served on board.

I was understandably apprehensive.
A few days back, there was an announcement that Air India would
cut down on the free food offered on domestic legs, and there
would be reductions on the international legs as well. The free
baggage allowance had reduced to 15kg in the Economy section,
with effect from 15 May, a mere three days back (though tickets
which had been booked prior to the date would honour the baggage
allowance printed on them). Should I have eaten something at home
before setting out for the airport?

As soon as the seat belts signs went off, the two members of the
cabin crew got into action at once, and a cart appeared very
quickly on my seat. I saw large trays on the cart.
This was encouraging!

When the trays were handed over, my pleasure knew no bounds to
see a hot breakfast been served! Yes, the Air India CR7s seemed
to have hot ovens on board. but my only previous trip on them had
not seen a hot snack. The name of the catering agency further
whetted up my appetite. Taj-SATS! The breakfast started with a
croissant. While it tasted fresh, there was nothing
extra-ordinary about it. The butter chiplet was also not the rock
hard I prefer, it had been warmed for the well-heeled passenger.
There was mixed fruit jam too, which I turned to, after I ran out
of the butter. The hot main course warmed my heart. It said
`South Ind Bfast'. On opening the cover, the aroma of
sAmbhar engulfed my senses. It had slices of the now
customary (in Delhi, at least) bottle gourd (which I like), and a
piece of drumstick. The drumstick had been chopped diagonally,
something that caught my attention. The sAmbhar was tasty,
though I would have liked it to have been a bit thicker, and have
some finely grated coconut in it, too. There was a nice coconut
chutney however, which went well with the small
utthapa(m), and the two small vadA(i)s. The
vadA(i)s were quite ordinary, they were not deep fried,
and were relatively soft. There was no crispy outer covering,
nor was it dusted with a spicy covering. The utthapa(m)
was superb - it had lightly cooked onion and tomato slices, with
some coriander giving it company. I appreciated the apprehension
that the Air India culinary department may have had in making a
very spicy Sambhar for a flight from New Delhi to Bhubaneshwar.
The same principle applied to all the items going a bit light,
for people with a tender disposition. Sure, I too have a very
tender disposition, but I also love spicy food! The
utthapa(m) was very lightly fried, and extremely tasty.
All this filled my massive belly, and satisfied my ravenous
hunger. Much to my surprise, the beverage run had a coffee that
was not excellent, at least it was not the usual brand of the
horridly flat instant coffee Air India serves on board its
flights, usually. This was relatively flat too, but the taste was
a bit different, and it was quite hot.

During the beverage service, the gentleman beside me was possibly
missing his reading glasses, and on looking at the contents of
the Air India pouch, asked me, ``soo..o-ger'? This, and his tone
of speaking Hindi, made it amply clear which region of India he
came from. He and his family were off for a holiday to Port
Blair. He had had a slight tiff with his wife on board the plane
(which I enjoyed by the way, to no small extent)
- they were worried about their large piece of cabin baggage,
which had been taken from them in the cabin, and sent to the
baggage hold, as it did not fit inside the CR7's small bins.
They got back to speaking terms after the breakfast, but luckily
for me, were not that chatty. His wife had the aisle seat, and
daughter, the window seat, where she busied herself with her
camera. I sat down to work, and keying in a bit of this trip report.

57.4 At the Biju Patnaik airport

I had been a bit apprehensive about the weather, since a few days
back, an Indigo flight to Kolkata had been diverted to Bhubaneshwar,
and suffered a huge amount of turbulence en route, with a few
injuries to passengers. Captain Brahm Prakash had reported the
temperature at Bhubaneshwar to be 30 degrees Celcius. It was cool
and overcast when we stepped out, and walked to the very
impressive new terminal building.

Walked?
I had been a bit surprised when the Captain had announced that
Bhubaneshwar would be a `technical halt'. Why had I been
surprised? No, I knew that the range of the CR7 `masked bandit'
was limited. DEL-BBI was a two hour flight, so was BBI-IXZ. In
the Indian Railways lingo, a technical halt is associated with no
passengers getting down at the corresponding railway station, or
any getting up into the train, there. I counted seven of us
getting down from the aircraft - most were destined for Port
Blair. I had no way of seeing how many passengers would get on to
the plane, at Bhubaneshwar, as we did not walk past the
departures part. A mini bus had come up to the plane, but I was
delighted to see no one alighting the rickety bus. It was a
pleasant walk on the tarmac to the terminal building. As I have
written above, the CR7 looks quite interesting in the new Air
India colours, especially the tail section, and the engines, at
the end of the slim fuselage. It looks even better on an overcast day.

The CR7s were quite exotic planes in the Air
India (Regional) inventory. At one time, there were 4 of
them: VT-RJB, RJC, RJD and RJE. Of them, I had flown on only one
of them, RJD: the `Political Party' plane. I have described my
experience on the same, in a trip report:

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10401.html

This would be my first time in the new terminal at the Biju Patnaik
airport at Bhubaneshwar. Here is a view of the impressive
arrivals hall, with a lounge visible in the corner.



57.5 In Bhubaneshwar...

The day was very hectic, and busy, and saw me dozing off in the
meeting, in full view of all sundry. The sun had also come out,
and it had got incredibly hot and humid outside. My hosts said
that the temperatures could rise to around 40 degree Celcius or
more this time of the year. The lack of sleep and rest saw me hit
the bed almost immediately after I came back to the place where I
was put up, and had a disturbed sleep. I woke up with a start,
and immediately set out to rummage for the famous Utkaliya sweet,
the chhenA podA. Two kilos under my belt - ah, not literally,
though I am perfectly capable of consuming the above amount,
which would straight add to the huge tummy girth under my belt.
I had also visited a family friend who stayed close-by. He had
given very precise walking directions to his house. I noticed an
interesting name of a Men's saloon on the way.
The sign board said, `Curl up and Dye'!

Talking of puns, I recounted two incidents that had taken place
in this week itself. These are in Hindi, the language commonly
spoken in Delhi. I apologise to the reader not very familiar with
the language, I have given some transliterations below.
The first was when I had decided to set out
from a meeting, when a senior colleague called out to me, to
ensure that I came back again,
``sone kI ghaDi rakh-kar jAo.''
Here, `sonA' means Gold, and `ghaDI', a watch,
meaning, keep your Gold watch here, and go.)
``sone kI ghaDI aa gayI hai,'' I replied.
Here, `sonA' refers to sleep, and `ghaDI', time,
meaning, `it is time for my sleep.'

There was another incident when a gentleman named P. K. Sharma
entered the room. ``P. K. Sharma aa gaye,'' said a colleague.
Another rejoined, ``pee-ke shamrAyegA nahin?''
meaning, ``after having partaken of booze (pee-ke),
shouldn't he be ashamed (`sharmA') of himself?

57.6 Old memories come back...

The walk absolutely drained me out, the heat and the humidity was
extremely oppressive. That put paid to my ravenous hunger as well,
and in a shocker of sorts, I hit the bed again.
Tiredness sometimes does weird things to people. Even though I
was dog-tired, I drifted in and out of sleep, with my mind
playing back some sweet memories of my December 2008 trip to
Bhubaneshwar. It was a hectic one, again. I had just come back
from my first DEL-JFK-DEL direct flight AI 101-102 combination
(on `Haryana' and `Assam', respectively) on 14 Dec (Sun) in the
afternoon, and set out after spending less than 24 hours in
Delhi. My itinerary for that memorable trip was the following:

Set out 15 Dec (Mon) for Bhubaneshwar from New Delhi
IC877: Air India (A319) [Seat, PNR: RMP3N5]
New Delhi (DEL) - Bhubaneshwar (BBI)
[11:55 am - 01:55 pm]

The flight was delayed by two hours, and we were given lunch
coupons at the now-closed Terminal 1A, which was one of my
favourite terminals, more so, after the renovation. We were taken
to the first floor restaurant, where we were treated to a
magnificent buffet spread. I remember gorging on the pAlak
paneer
(cottage cheese in a spinach puree gravy). The plane
on the route was something my friends refer to as the `chhI-chhI'
plane, CC: VT-SCC, a 319 in the `Indian' livery. I call it the
`unfair means' plane (CC: `carbon copy'). It had (and still has,
I believe) scratched window panes. The return was on an exotic
new CM: `State Executive Head' plane, VT-SCM. It was the newest
plane in the fleet at that time, if I remember correctly. It was
in mint condition, and the service was superb.

Set out 20 Dec (Sat) for New Delhi from Bhubaneshwar
IC878: Air India (A319) [Seat, PNR: RC4EMK]
Bhubaneshwar (BBI) - New Delhi (DEL)
[02:40 pm - 04:40 pm]

I had admired the old but well-maintained terminal, with the
Konark Chakras air-side, and the lovely cloth lanterns on the
ceiling. The Mumbai flight had come in a bit late - an A320 in
the old Indian Airlines livery.

And what had I seen at Bhubaneshwar? I had seen a very clean
city, without even a single poster on any wall. On the other
hand, the walls in the city were decorated with beautiful
paintings highlighting the point of tourist interest close to the
city, and in the state, in general. I was a bit disappointed this
time to see a few posters defacing the walls. The city still
remains quite neat and clean. On the tourist circuit, I made made
trips to the amazing sun temple at Konark, the very impressive
Nandankanan zoo, the Buddhist caves at Udayagiri and Khandagiri,
and the famous Lingaraj temple. I had not managed a trip to the
Chilika lake, or Puri - something more enthusiastic acquaintances
had managed during the conference. Our Daily Allowance (DA) at
that time was a laughable Rs.350 - a carry-over from the 1960s,
which surprised me, since Bhubaneshwar was not even in the list
of Tier 2A cities (that was the surprise, not the paltry DA),
since Bhubaneshwar was a major tourist destination in India.
A friend had been kind enough to book my accommodation at a
relatively cost-effective place, Hotel Janpath, which was also
centrally located. The conference itself was held at the four
star Hotel Swosti Plaza.

57.7 Back to the Present...my ever-present hunger

I woke up quite late the next morning, and managed a quick but
heavy breakfast. Food-wise, people from the state have a
reputation as being excellent cooks. I had an interesting green
peas idli, which I had expected to be green with pureed peas being
added to the idli batter. But no, it wasn't so, but it had an
interesting taste. It left its mark on me - rather, I would
credit the sAmbhar for leaving its mark on my shirt. The steaming
concoction works wonders when it gets down to my belly, but not
quite so, from the outside. As soon as my spoon had made an acute angle
with the horizon, I felt a warm rivulet of goodness on the outside of
my belly. On a different note, many snacks of South Indian origin
have become ubiquitous all around the country, something I do not
mind one bit. They rank very high on my list of preferences.

57.8 The Return Trip

My itinerary for the return trip was as follows:

Set out 19 May (Sun) for New Delhi from Bhubaneshwar
Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneshwar - IGIA T3, New Delhi
Bhubaneshwar (BBI) - New Delhi (DEL)
AI 9602: Air India (CRJ7) [Seat: 05F; PNR: Z492R]
[01:20 pm - 03:20 pm]

I was ready for the journey from the very impressive Hotel Crown,
back to the Biju Patnaik airport, well on time. As we approached
the airport along wide and clean roads, I asked the gentleman who
had accompanied me, as to if he knew what the fate of the old
terminal would be. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the
old terminal would be widely renovated from the inside, and
linked to the new one. If this were indeed true, it would be nice
to see this old structure in operation again. The land-side had a
statue of the famous political leader and daredevil air force
pilot Biju Patnaik, and the air-side had replicas of the Konark
Chakra. The ceiling of the building also resembled the step slice
construction of the Konark temple. It is a very impressive structure.
Bhubaneshwar is often referred to as the `City of Temples'. The
style of temple architecture is rather unique and distinctive,
often referred to as the `Kalinga' style.

The new terminal is extremely impressive.
It is neat and clean, and the signage is good. No, as with most
airports in India, it does not have an in-line baggage check-in.
One has to manually have one's bags X-rayed at one of the two
machines outside the check-in counters. There were four counters
for Air India, in operation. The check-in and security check were
both a breeze, again. The cloth lanterns (`pipli-kArI') adorned
the ceilings, land-side.



The new terminal was spotlessly clean, and looked extremely
well-maintained. Here are two views of the departures area, with
lovely paintings and murals adorning the walls, breaking an
otherwise now-standard metal, concrete and glass structure.





There is a lounge in the departures area as well, which is
decorated in an extremely tasteful manner. The shafts of sunlight
add a mystical hue to this scene.



Air-side post-security, there is a staircase and escalator to the
upper floor. There is a very impressive cloth mural all along the high wall.



Air-side were two floors, with the top floor not yet in action,
except for a snack bar. There were two stubs for aero-bridges,
which had not arrived in as yet, at the time of my trip.



The waiting area on the ground floor was well-lit and clean. For
a state that touts itself as the next IT destination, there were
very few power-ports in the waiting area, and none close to the
seats. The airport management would do well to look into this matter.

57.9 Boarding a Bandit, again

Our `masked bandit' came in well before time. It parked on the
rightmost stand, as viewed from the terminal. Small Air India
vans parked in front of Gate 3 on the ground floor. An Indigo
A320 VT-IGW pushed back for take-off. The boarding announcement
came well before time, at 12:30 pm, since the plane had come in
early. We boarded an ancient small Tata bus, which took us
to...the `Junior Engineer' plane JE, VT-RJE. I was a bit
disappointed at getting a familiar registration, but
nevertheless, was happy to be able to log another trip on the
exotic plane type in the fleet. As we had boarded the bus, I
noticed the same two ladies boarding another vehicle - the two
who were on board my onward flight to Bhubaneshwar, the previous
morning. It was nice to have these two cheerful middle-aged
ladies on board. They had been pleasant, as well as very prompt
and efficient in the service, and attending to the passengers on
board. On boarding the plane, I noticed the captain as well
as the first officer making a round of the aircraft on the
tarmac. Their faces looked familiar, yes - they would be the same
two gentlemen who had brought us to Bhubaneshwar the previous
day. Captain Brahm Prakash and First Officer Girish Sharma. Ms.
Kiran was in charge of the cabin, aided by Ms. Geena. I noted with
pleasure, that the plastic surfaces had been cleaned to
perfection, though the fabric had a very tired look all over, as
it had been the day before, for my journey to Bhubaneshwar.

CT, the `Medical Scan' plane VT-SCT, parked beside us, having
arrived from Mumbai. It would go back to Mumbai. My friend and
prominent Delhi plane spotter Mr. All-Stare MacLean, texted me
saying that the `Fashionable Plane' was coming in from Delhi, for
the next flight to Delhi. Yes, it was CK indeed, which landed as
we approached the runway, VT-SCK. Air India had two flights from
Bhubaneshwar to Delhi within 40 minutes of each other, but the
first one, had Bhubaneshwar as a technical halt en route from Port
Blair. The flights to Mumbai and Delhi were both on new A319s,
whereas ours was a CR7. The Delhi flight was AI 877 and the
flight going back was AI 878, which were the current avatars of
the traditional DEL-BBI-DEL run, done in the past on IC 877 and IC 878.

57.10 Music to my ears, Brahms on the Piano Keys

I start this section with a very bad pun on the Captain's first
name. Captain Brahm Prakash took the aircraft right to the edge
of runway 14, and turned around on the white markings on the
runway edge, popularly known as the `piano keys'. There was a
long and powerful take-off roll, possibly due to a large baggage
load in addition to this being a 100% full flight. The Air India
Regional (ex-Alliance Air) had all of their planes, the ATR-42s
and the CRJ-700s, in all-economy configurations. There were about
15 of us who had alighted from Bhubaneshwar, and I had noticed a
similar number descending from the plane. What followed was the
typical CR7 take-off with the nose going up, the plane ascending
gradually at first, and then very steeply into the sky. A bandit
take-off is always an interesting experience, both from inside
the plane, as well as from the outside!

After we had gone straight, almost along the river, the Captain
made a near 180-degree turn, and we flew right beside the main
runway at Bhubaneshwar, and saw from the air, the three planes
parked on the tarmac. A Jet Airways B738 VT-JGQ had come in just
before we had taxied out, and now the Fashionable Plane had
parked beside it. I noticed a moving shadow on the ground toward
runway 14, and much to my delight, I watched an Indigo A320 make
a landing on runway 14. This was the first time I have seen a
plane land on the runway when I have been up in the air on
another flight. Catching sight of another plane in the air is
itself a rare sight, and to watch a landing from the air, is a
great experience! The Bhubaneshwar airport has two runways, at
right angles to each other. The smaller secondary runway was
clearly visible from the air, and perhaps caters to the large
number of smaller private fixed-wing aircraft at the airport.
There were a few helicopters there as well.

57.11 Lunch!

The next announcement sent my a tingling sensation right down my
tongue, and activated some digestive juices in the large (and by
now, quite empty) region down my middle. Lunch would be served on
board! My host had mentioned that the lunch the day before, was
prepared by Prachi caterers, who also did the catering for Air
India, from Bhubaneshwar. What would it be?

The same kind of tray was handed over to all passengers.
What a meal this turned out to be!
It started with a salad bowl, which had numerous pieces of cucumber,
which had their sides serrated, and had been tastefully cut diagonally
into oval slices. There were two similar slices of the orange
carrot, and a small green chilly, a type that is not too hot, but
has an nice flavour. What was so interesting about all this?

It was the third item, an aromatic slice of lemon!
The eastern part of the country is home to at least two varieties
of aromatic lemons. One is what Bongs refer to as the
`gandharAj'
(literally, the `king of aroma'), which is a thick-skinned variety
with very little juice, but an amazing aroma. Even a few drops
lend a fantastic aroma and taste to whatever they are sprinkled on. They
are supposed to have medicinal properties as well, and are said
to aid in digestion.
This was another one, which was less thick-skinned than either
the gandharAj, or the writer of this piece, to make it more
manageable to squeeze, compared to a gandharAj.
Or the writer, for that matter.
I forget what this is called - is it the `kAgjI' variety, or a
smaller version of the large lemon which is found in Odisha, the
`galgal'? It lent a divine taste to the fairly standard Indian
green salad, and set me up for a divine dining experience.
The main box had a nice oval parAnThA/baroTA on top. It was
neither too thick, nor too thin, and had been done well, with a
limited quantity of oil, so that it met Air India's high
standards. I squeezed out the last few morsels out of the lemon
slice, and had it with the parAnThA, just for the taste.

Inside the box was a bed of medium-length aromatic rice, with a
bit of lightly fried cumin seeds, and had a lightly fried piece
of the small brown raisin on top.
The lovely aroma of the same enveloped the air around me!
To the left was a green skinned Moong (one of the common
types of pulses in India) preparation, done with
onions, tomato and garnished with coriander on top. On the right
was a dry malAI paneer curry, with very soft pieces of cottage
cheese in a cream-based gravy, done with lightly fried onion and
tomatoes. While the cream base is sinful indeed, I noted that the
amount of extra oil had been kept to a minimum, to lend a
health-plus-taste angle to this lovely preparation. The coffee
turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was strong, hot, and the
taste quotient of the instant coffee was not too low.
It was time to set up my laptop, and type in details of this trip.

At 03:40 pm, First Officer Girish Sharma came on the air, and
announced that they had had to reduce speed, on instructions that
an aircraft from China was there in front of us, to Delhi. Yes,
it was the Chinese Premier coming in to Delhi, as had been
announced on the TV news channels! Captain Sharma gave details
about the (horrid) weather at Delhi (it had recorded 43 degrees
Celcius), and gave details about our altitude and the visibility
at Delhi. It was nice that he mentioned the name of both the
members of the cabin crew, something that is not done normally.
Usually, even the first officer's name is not announced.

Captain Brahm Prakash and First Officer Girish Sharma came in
over the Indraprastha power plant, I saw the Lotus temple at a
distance, IIT Delhi, JNU, and over the malls and schools in the
Vasant Vihar-Vasant Kunj area, and...made a feather-touch
touchdown on runway 29. As we touched down, I noticed an Air
China B744 close to the intersections of runways 09 and 10 - that
must have been the Chinese Premier's plane. As we came in to
land, I observed an Oman Air B738 waiting for us to land,
behind a Jet Airways B738, and an Air India A321. I also
noticed a large two holer plane coming in to land after we had
turned off the active runway - it was an Air India B77W!

I was reminded of an incident when a neighbour bought a second
hand Maruti Suzuki Esteem with a UP 32 number plate. Intrigued, I
asked him about it. He told me that he had bought it from a
friend, who had used the car in Lucknow, where it was registered.
I remarked that it did not bode well for driving in Delhi, as at
every crossing, the car would let others pass first.
Why, he asked, a bit surprised.
``luckhnawI andAz,'' I replied, ``pehle Ap''
`you go first', literally, in what is often referred to as an
age-old customary tradition from Lucknow.
My childish prank shocked him for a moment, and noticing Yours
Truly yelping around in laughter, he also broke into a smile.
``Ah...this tradition is disappearing even from Lucknow,'' he
trailed off.

We got the usual CR7 parking spot, as we exited the plane onto
the 42 degrees Celcius tarmac. As I was getting out of the plane,
I thanked Ms. Kiran for a nice trip - she smiled back, and told
me that she remembered me doing the DEL-BBI segment the previous
day too. That felt nice! I wanted to thank the Captain and the First
Officer too, but they were busy with the paperwork after the
flight. We entered through the usual bus gate into the always
impressive IGIA T3. The baggage took some time to come out.
However busy one may be, one should always have time to smell the
flowers. Fine, from a distance, at least, and if one has the
time, IGI Airport T3 has some lovely flowers on view, at all times.



I took a pre-paid taxi, and set out for home, sweet home.
The taxi went towards the Mahipalpur crossing side, when I
noticed a JetKonnect ATR-72 turning in towards the main runway
28. As we crossed this, I noticed a Jet Airways B738 coming in to
land on runway 27. My excitement knew no bounds! I quickly texted
some of my friends to wonder if I had seen the simultaneous use
of all three runways at Palam. Some Delhi spotters wrote back to
douse my enthusiasm almost as soon as it had sparked off. No, I
had again observed a change-over point in the runway point
operations: I had seen the end of the runway 29 operations, and
the two runways in use were the main and the secondary, 28 and 27.

Before I close this trip report, I will leave you with a snap of a menu
card in a posh restaurant in Bhubaneshwar.
It is a costly place, with prices of food items being a
bit on the higher side. Often one uses the term `blood-sucking'
when referring to a costly place, but the following menu item induced
a blood-curling sensation inside me.



`Chilled Leeches Served with or without Ice Cream'
Sorry, either way, I certainly do not look forward to this dish!
---
Links to my 57 trip reports:
https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a Sunday, resting at home with no worries, I'm glad to be on pole position to reply to your TR!

I'll agree with you on this - the CRJ is certainly a very very interesting aircraft! However, I must say, I think the -700 is a tad too long. I like the CRJ-200. And I must say, the CRJ-200s in India had a very sad end (white. Just white with Jetlite written on it. Ew. ), they looked fantastic in both Air Sahara liveries.

Nice pictures of the AI CRJ cabin, I always wondered how they looked, and to me, it looks like a normal ATR set of seats, obviously.

Port Blair - I haven't been there yet, however, unsurprisingly Dad has. IIRC, it was on Alliance Air's classic B732s. I could be wrong. That was just 2 weeks before the 2004 Tsunami disaster...

The food. That is quite unique, I do not know why. Maybe the descriptions you give gives me an impression that it is something you do not find in airline food? I haven't heard of too many instances where you get the food which you've described. IIRC, DEL-BBI-IXZ r/t are the only CD flights with full meals, rather than BoB.

Channa pora. Oh wow. One of my very close friends is from Odisha and wow every time he went there, he'd get a box full of those exclusively for me. Brilliant sweet dish that.

Those Hindi puns were quite funny Razz
Haha!

Despite all your travels across India, I'm quite surprised that you haven't been to Puri yet. That is a must see for all of us. I have been there twice (2005 and 2011). While I remember very less of 2005, 2011 was quite a nightmare for me. It was a bad experience, which I've mentioned in one of my TRs. Memorable days....

Same crew. Nice! I've had the same experience once only. And believe it or not - it was from the 2011 Bhubaneshwar trip I talked about! The purser recognized me, while I simply couldn't. Stuff was happening in my internal systems, so yeah.

Despite being a Bengali, I'm not very Bengali. With time, the hype of Durga Puja has reduced for me, I do not like Hilsa as I find it overrated, and the lemon which you mentioned is nothing spectacular for me, personally. Oh and of course, another aspect which disqualifies me as a Bengali is the fact that I dislike the KKR team (apologies if I did hurt anyones' feelings), but that is out of context.

Question - did they have a non veg option in meals? Or is CD just a normal no choice affair?

Again, thank you for this fantastic trip report and we look forward to seeing more of these in the future!

(PS- Its December Razz )

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
On a Sunday, resting at home with no worries, I'm glad to be on pole position to reply to your TR!
Thank you, Sir: Alonso is expected to have the Pole position Smile

jbalonso777 wrote:
And I must say, the CRJ-200s in India had a very sad end (white. Just white with Jetlite written on it.
You forget the all-white Indus Air CR2 that was parked at DEL for quite some time. Yes, all-white, again!

jbalonso777 wrote:
IIRC, DEL-BBI-IXZ r/t are the only CD flights with full meals, rather than BoB.
Add 3 more, Sir. BDQ, STV, GAU. So, 2 in the East, 2 in the West Smile

jbalonso777 wrote:
Channa pora. Oh wow.
I like the subtle sweetness, rather than overtly-sweet sweets.

jbalonso777 wrote:
Question - did they have a non veg option in meals? Or is CD just a normal no choice affair?
No clue, Jishnu! For a person who was a strict vegetarian for about a decade, I do not mind it too much Smile

jbalonso777 wrote:
(PS- Its December Razz )
Yes, Sir: I know. I am keying this in, waiting for the Bhopal Shatabdi to come in, at Gwalior. I came in on the MP Sampark Kranti last night (where I finished typing this TR), and get back, today.
Thanks Sir, once again.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An excellent TR as usual Sir. I happened to take AI9601 to IXZ earlier this month. That time it was VT-RJD. The breakfast had vada but no utthapams and no coffee was served, so had to make do with Tea. BBI-IXZ consisted of a marble bread sandwich along with a cake.

Since this was my first time on a small commuter plane, I was apprehensive about the turbulence but I was pleasantly surprised that there was none. It was one of my smoothest flight ever, on both the sectors.

Looking forward for more from you Sir.

Cheers
Shivendra
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Thank you, Sir: Alonso is expected to have the Pole position Smile

Ha ha!
Classic Razz
Again out of context, but here is hoping the new rules and regulations (and engine formula...) does shake up the order a lot. And with Raikkonen on board...I shall stop before I start Razz

sumantra wrote:
like the subtle sweetness, rather than overtly-sweet sweets.

Me too actually. I do not like overly sweet stuff...

Regards
Jish
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rakesh959
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sumatra sir,
I have been a regular but silent reader of all ur reports.And I must admit I'm awestruck by ur writing especially ur mention of the food on board.The CR7s are very good aircraft and I personally feel a lot of them can be used in India.Your description of flt crew as usual was just amazing.U covered most of the parts in detail.Waiting for ur next report too!
Regards,
Rakesh
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rakesh959
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
IIRC, DEL-BBI-IXZ r/t are the only CD flights with full meals, rather than BoB.
Add 3 more, Sir. BDQ, STV, GAU. So, 2 in the East, 2 in the West Smile

Dont the dehradun and Jabalpur flights get full meals ?
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great to get a TR on the CRJ in India - long thin routes seem to be doing well for AI!

Chenna Poda - this is one of my wife's favorite sweets, and we are blessed to have a great Oriya joint close by where we occasionally pick up the stuff. Reminds me that I have a good way to score brownie points - something which is sorely needed at all times Wink. Perhaps a trip to the Odiya restaurant is in store on my way home today...
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3591
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sir thanks for the TR

I want to mention one of the lines written by you - you got busy typing the TR. Sir, I urge you to do that in every trip and post it immediately

Considering that 7 got out and flight was full not more than 7 could get in at BBI !
Assuming AI does good Revenue mgmt, then not many seats are reserved for BBi IXZ leg

Considering how the spellings are painted - I am happy to see curl up and dye and not curl up and die !
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh thank you, Shukla-ji, Rakesh, Nimish and Ameya! One of the poignant disadvantages of travelling all around the place is not getting to read my favourite section on AI.net. I was in Gwalior (MP Sampark Kranti, Bhopal Shatabdi) and in Gulbarga...of all places.

shivendrashukla wrote:
I happened to take AI9601 to IXZ earlier this month. That time it was VT-RJD. The breakfast had vada but no utthapams and no coffee was served, so had to make do with Tea. BBI-IXZ consisted of a marble bread sandwich along with a cake.
Sir: my eyes light up at the thought of a TR from you, along with pictures. Not to mention the food. I guess this is the first TR on AI-R/CD after the Dholakia committee recommendations went into effect (my JLR trips had only BoB, and anyway, they are in the works). I had two-hour flights to/from HYD at meal times this month, and
was overjoyed to see the usual AI fare on offer: both quality and quantity. I would like to hear (and see!) more on the AI-R/CD long route front, since I may have a DEL-STV trip coming up soon.

rakesh959 wrote:
Dont the dehradun and Jabalpur flights get full meals
Rakesh, thank you for your patronage of my TRs! Unfortunately, only the BI-IXZ/BDQ/STV/GAU routes are the only ones with free food on board, and that too from Shukla-ji's post above, seem to indicate a transition inching towards the mostly cold snacks on the shorter legs, except possibly the meal-time flights (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner). I may get to try the STV flight soon: this should have dinner on at least the return leg, if not on both.

Nimish wrote:
...a TR on the CRJ in India - long thin routes seem to be doing well for AI!
Nimish, I remember having the first CR7 TR on this forum:
3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10401.html
I had taken this trip just to experience the `Masked Bandit', and see the new VTZ terminal, albeit from the outside! I was to see the latter from inside, on a a later trip, which also I have reported on. Back to the CR7: there will be quite a few more, hopefully soon: all JLR trips, with one subbed with an AT4 on what is perhaps currently India's longest turboprop flight (2 hours), and one leg on a SG Q4.
Nimish wrote:
Chenna Poda - this is one of my wife's favorite sweets...a good way to score brownie points...
I must way you are blessed in more ways than that, Nimish Smile If I tried the same...

ameya wrote:
I want to mention one of the lines written by you - you got busy typing the TR.
Sir, you, and your regular TRs the moment you return from a trip: are perhaps the sole reason for getting me out of my laziness, and typing things in. Thank you!

Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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Location: Kochi, Kerala, India

PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another Sumantra TR I missed. Oh dear.

This was a very nice read as usual and enjoyable as usual. The CR7s are always something I've had on my mind to try.

Quote:
In almost all
airlines, larger backpacks are sometimes taken in at the gate
itself: in the plane, or on the tarmac, and put in the baggage
hold.


I've seen the scenario of people begging on the tarmac so many times to let their huge luggage be taken on, while flying the props. Good move on picking a smaller luggage piece.

Quote:
The first
flight was luckily the CR7 flight again, coming back from Port
Blair (IXZ) to Delhi, via Bhubaneshwar.


I've wondered about this. Why doesn't it fly direct to DEL? Loads/Range/Traffic? Anyway, isn't this the longest stopover flight in India?

Quote:
Here is a picture of the interior of our plane.


Lovely! Looks a lot better than how I imagined it. I've heard the CR7s windows are quite annoying, how were they on your flight?

Quote:
The hot main course warmed my heart. It said
`South Ind Bfast'. On opening the cover, the aroma of
sAmbhar engulfed my senses.


Sounds good. What was the non-veg option? The usual omelette?

Quote:
The cloth lanterns (`pipli-kArI') adorned
the ceilings, land-side.


This is neat! Glad that the AAI are trying to distinguish their terminals. And I have to admit those do look quite wonderful!

Quote:
There were about
15 of us who had alighted from Bhubaneshwar, and I had noticed a
similar number descending from the plane.


Is this flight usually full of tourists? If so, I wonder why AI haven't gone nonstop on IXZ-DEL.

Quote:
Catching sight of another plane in the air is
itself a rare sight, and to watch a landing from the air, is a
great experience!


Totally agree. Nice catch!

The wonderful food descriptions have gotten me again. You have described the food so artfully that the reader is immersed into the world of airline food as well. Great job!

Looking forward to the next one!

Adi,

Theairplaneguy4ever
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
...
Thank you, Sir! Let me try to answer most of your questions to be best of my knowledge. There was no non-veg option on the flight. BBI seemed more like a technical halt, since there were not too many people boarding/deplaning at BBI, and the few seats emptied out, were filled in again. I guess the CR7 `masked bandit' is an excellent capacity-route match for Air India. CCU and MAA on the other hand, have seen great loads on their IXZ flights on bigger planes, on Air India. The CR7 windows: though a bit small, are fine for me. Except for the scratches! The leased birds aren't exactly spring chickens, so that accounts for the scratched windows. Odisha has been the centre of culture in the Eastern part of India: it is heartening to see a terminal building commensurate with the same.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orissa is becoming a major tourist destination. It deserves a good airport. Your picture shows it is becoming a well developed airport.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sabya99 wrote:
Orissa is becoming a major tourist destination.
Sir, Odisha has always been a major tourist destination! And this is not just for people in the East. Having been based in Calcutta, I am sure you would have had at least one `mandatory' trip to Puri Smile In my case however, the trips have been just to Bhubaneshwar (twice) and Rourkela (once).
sabya99 wrote:
Your picture shows it is becoming a well developed airport.
Sir, even the earlier airport was small, but well-maintained. The city of Bhubaneshwar has to be seen to be believed. It is perhaps one of the cleanest cities in East India, if not thecleanest. One can feel the culture of the people in the air, and everywhere. Odisha represents a melting pot of cultures between the North and the South, and the East. A fascinating state!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I have been to Puri / Bhubaneswar twice. But that was years ago. I like it other than food! Very Happy
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