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Coimba-Tour, Jul'13 [& Overheating Ovens]

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:58 am    Post subject: Coimba-Tour, Jul'13 [& Overheating Ovens] Reply with quote

Coimba-Tour, Jul'13 [& Overheating Ovens]


http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13973.html

64.1 Introduction
Let the horrid choice of the title, a bad pun on the name of the
city, not put off the reader, at least by too much.
The part in the brackets is even more bizarre: the last part of
this report will also cover The Wife's trip aboard AI 020 on 25
Jul'13, on the Dream)liner flight with the overheating oven,
which made a lot of big news.

It started with a pleasant surprise - a sudden trip to Coimbatore,
for which I would have to start two days later, and come back the
next day. Ah...all this is not in a relativistic sense, but on
the same temporal scale, with non-negative offsets.
If I had to set out, I had to transfer some of my
duties to an unsuspecting colleague. I was on-line. So was my
friend from Jodhpur, Mr. Green, who had had a nice visit to
Coimbatore earlier this year, before my first visit to the place.
56. Co-imbibing Coimbatore's Combination Culture
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13511.html

I was wondering whom to transfer my Friday responsibilities to.
Mr. Green suggested a common acquaintance's name,
``dump it on him.''
I mis-read this with the `it' missing, above.
I started howling out with laughter, as I picturised myself
perching on top of this colleague like a bird,
and taking a dump on him.

Yes, again it would be on Air India, with AI 657, I
would do the DEL-BOM-CJB legs - the plane goes onward to
Kozhikode/Calicut, takes what is sometimes called a `malabAr
biriyAnI
break' there, and comes back to do CJB-BOM-DEL again.
I would do the return flight the next day. The itinerary for my
forward leg was as follows:

Set out 18 Jul (Thu) for Coimbatore from New Delhi
AI 657: Air India (A321) [Seat: 16A; PNR: JX31Q]
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]

64.2 Boot-up Problems

It would be very tight, however. and I spent a large part of the
night in my office - the night of Wednesday 17 Jul saw me with a
lot to do before I set out. I was not able to wake up on time -
in fact it was the friendly cab driver who did the honours which
my repeated alarms could not. I hurried out of bed, and hurriedly
took my bags, and rushed out, as we drove to IGIA T3. The cab
driver got me to the airport right on time. I had a quick look at
the crowds outside the gates - Gate 3 (Air India) looked quite
quite crowded compared to Gates 1 and 2 (now catering to only
Jet Airways, after Kingfisher airlines stopped services). I
rushed towards Gate 2, and rushed towards the Air India check-in
counters. There were huge lines at all counters, and again, there
were 4 counters which had been opened in the Jet Airways island,
beside the Air Mauritius check-in counters. It was close to
closing time already, and there were calls for the Air India
Hyderabad flight. While the lines were long, they were moving quickly.

When I had booked the flight two days before, I was unable to
select my seat for the onward trip, for some strange reason.
I would have to rely on the web check-in to get a good seat. By the
time I managed to do this, I saw the right (starboard) side of the
plane almost full, much to my disappointment, since I had hoped
for a seat on the right side, since chances of getting runway 27
were higher in Mumbai, and I would be able to see the action on
the international terminal, see the progress on the new terminal,
the cargo terminal, as well as the remote stands. That was not to be.
The left (port) side had 16A as the first available empty
window seat. The web check-in told me that many people were now
using this facility. The security lines were quite long, but
again, they were moving quite fast. After the security check, I looked at
my boarding pass - we would get gate 36 - it was at the extreme
end of the Air India domestic finger. I rushed towards the gate,
just as boarding was announced. As I huffed and puffed into the
line, and looked all around me, we were right beside a wide-body
gate, and...the `Egyptian plane' ANK(h): VT-ANK a Dream)liner,
pushed back. The beautiful Oman Air B738 came in towards the international
terminal, and the Royal Jordanian One World A319 came in. Forum
moderator Varun texted me, saying that this bird often flew in here.
I find the RJ livery quite impressive, but the One World livery
on it makes it look too bland, in my humble opinion.
Our ride for the day would be the `pulses cake' plane, PPD: VT-PPD.

As we entered the active runway, three other Air India B788
Dream)liners were pushing back at about the same time: the flights
to London Heathrow from the international terminal, and domestic
flights to Bengaluru and Kolkata, with the Chennai flight having
set out as I had huffed and puffed in reaching the boarding line.
This is one of them, creeping out like a Salamander:



I like to travel in the older A321s, to see the old-style patterned
Indian Airlines wallpaper (as opposed to the plain Jane current
Air India ones), and the weird combination of the blue PTVs
and arm-rests, which went well with the old Indian Airlines seat
colours, but not with the current Air India ochre and red seats.
I was happy to see a clean plane.
I settled down on seat 16A, as a sea of humanity came in. The
large number of passengers waiting outside the gate indicated
good Business class loads, which was perhaps expected on a
business hour flight from India's political capital Delhi, to the
economic capital, Mumbai. Captain Abhinav Yadav was in command,
with First Officer S. K. Suri to accompany him in the front
office. Ms. Jaffrey was in charge of the cabin.

64.3 Breakfast

It took some time to announce the start of the breakfast service.
Yes, I was sleepy, but I was hungry, too.
Given my late start to the day, I was not as hungry as I usually
would have been, had I started the day a bit earlier.
The breakfast started with a bun - which had nothing special
about it, and neither was the butter rock hard. I had it
nevertheless, with the soft butter, and the mixed fruit preserve.
The fruit bowl was excellent - two papaya pieces of the `Disco' variety,
and two slices of a very fresh musk melon/honey dew melon. The
main course was simply excellent. It had a nice half piece of a
sun-dried tomato, which had been tossed lightly in olive oil, on
the right. On the left were three potato wedges, which
had been lightly dusted with a mixture of spices. In the middle
was something extremely interesting: an omelette, which had been
done in the shape of a flat cuboid: it had shredded onions, and
coriander, and had been done in a minute quantity of oil, and was
extremely light and fluffy. No, not even an extremely flat coffee
could dilute the nice breakfast.

64.4 The Minute 40(+)-minute Halt at Mumbai

The only sight worth mentioning, that I noticed (as the plane came
in to land) was the impressive Vashi bridge, over the Thane creek.
Captain Abhinav Yadav landed the plane (amidst some slight
monsoon chop) very smoothly on the main runway 27. The
maintenance staff, and police and Air India personnel on duty
came into the plane quickly, and did their job efficiently, while
I typed in a bit of the trip report. As the set of cabin crew
were de-planing, I thanked them for a nice flight - the service
had been efficient, smooth, and done with a smile. There was a
combination of experience and youth in the all-lady team.



A sea of humanity again boarded the plane, which had docked at
the first aero-bridge of the very impressive Terminal 1C. A Jet
Airways B738 with Konnect decals came in almost with us, and set
out a bit before us. The loads would easily be close to 90%.
I wondered what was delaying our departure.

As if by telepathy, Captain Yadav came on the intercom, and
introduced his First Officer, and explained that there had been
a snag, which would have had to be rectified, all in the pouring
rain of Mumbai. The temperature at all three points, Mumbai,
Coimbatore and Calicut/Kozhikode was 24 degrees Celcius, but the
two latter cities had low clouds, and not much rain. Mumbai was a
different matter, altogether, as Captain Yadav mentioned that
there would be some CAT - Clear Air Turbulence en route as well,
around Mumbai. By this time, the Jet Airways Konnect plane had
gone towards the active runway, and its place had been taken by an
Indigo plane, VT-IGX. A Singapore Airlines B772 had come in, and
was taxi'ing towards the international terminal. Captain Yadav
told us that we would be delayed by 20 minutes in all, and some 9
more passengers were expected to board the plane.

64.5 Further Morning Nourishment!

Captain Yadav had announced that there would be some chop on the
route out of Mumbai, and he would try to turn the seat-belt sign
off at the earliest. The lack of sleep was setting to me, and I
had all but fallen asleep, before some appetising smells started
tingling my olfactory senses. I also noticed that the Captain had
just switched the seat belt sign off, and the cabin crew had got
into action immediately. Once again, there was a nice combination
of experience and youth, who went about their tasks with a lot of
enthusiasm, and panache. No, there was no non-vegetarian offering.

What a snack this turned out to be!
The caterer in question was Chef Air, as the card said.
It started with a small white bread coleslaw sandwich, which had
generous quantities of shredded carrots, cabbage and lettuce in a
coleslaw filling. The bread was fresh, and it tasted heavenly!
If that was the start, I could not have guessed what the main
course would be. It was a typical Bombay/Mumbai offering!
There was a traditional Mumbai `baTATA-wadA' to the left, which
is a ball of mashed potato with some spices thrown in, primarily
mustard (`rai', to be precise - the smaller variety), and a hint
of curry leaves (`kaDhI pattA'), and fried lightly. The
miniaturisation was interesting - this was a small ball, unlike
the traditional Mumbai large ball-like offering.
In the middle was a concoction of ripened peas (`wATANA'), a
preparation which Bongs call a `ghughnI'. It was not spicy at
all, and had been done just right, What got me onto cloud nine
was the `pAv', which went with it. It was a beautiful
miniaturised version of the large squarish bread that Mumbai
loves, and lives on (well, almost).
I looked all around it - it had been sliced some
three-fourths in the middle with a very sharp knife (so there were
no jagged edges, or rough surfaces, anywhere). I held my breath,
literally...on parting the two parts a bit, was a visual and
olfactory treat. Some spices had been fried in clarified butter
(`ghee'), and the dry mixture had been put inside, lovingly, and
carefully, in a circle - it had not been hastily spread in.
If the presentation was wonderful, the local bread is perhaps one
of Mumbai's best-kept gastronomic secrets. Words alone cannot
describe how soft the `pAv' was. The fresh smell put my entire
gastronomic apparatus into an over-drive, as I relished small
nibbles of the `pAv', and had it with small helpings of the
ripened peas-based gooey preparation. I wished this would not
end, but then I had another enticing item pleadingly staring at me.
It looked like a saffron-coloured chum-chum, a flattened ball of
very soft cottage cheese (much like a rasgullA), which had been
cooked in a syrup with a yellowish tinge. If the reader is left
wondering as to why this would excite someone, yes, not just was
the taste simply superb. The chum-chum had a cream-based topping.
The cream was lightly sweet, and had finely chopped dry fruits:
pistachios, almonds and cashews - the latter duo had been lightly
roasted, before being finely chopped.
The aroma was unmistakable, the taste, incredible,
and the overall experience, unforgettable
.

64.6 For the Spirited Tea-Totaller

The beverage service had started by now, and I noticed that the
lady with the tea jug was ahead of the one with the coffee
container. After my morning's experience with the character-less
coffee, would I hazard a helping this time? The `Tata Tea Gold'
labels on the tea bags inside encouraged me (they weren't looking
much tired, either), and I was not disappointed. The tea had been
brewed well, and not over-done - it tasted fresh, and did not have
a tired or astringent-like taste, which is a big put-off for me.
This is `tea' as it is, rather than the `chAi'/`chAhA', which has
the three main ingredients - tea leaves, milk and water boiled
together, instead of being brewed. My Bong friends cite the
comedian Bhanu Bandyopadhyay's joke about it being a `Gauge'.
`teen foot-e ek gauge', literally a pun on the English word
`foot', and the Bong verb of the same phoneticity, which my
Bong friends tell me, indicates `boiling'. Lest I end up in a
foot-in-mouth situation, I request informed Bong readers to pardon
my mistakes, if any. I often end up with my big toe firmly in my mouth
on many such occassions. The above line transliterates as
something like, `3 feet (alternatively, boiling the trio) make a Gauge',
No, it is not that I do not like the `Gauge' - this is an art in
itself, something I learnt from observing The Wife and her mummy,
in action. This art involves a brew actually, getting a rich
chocolatey colour, with just the right amount of milk (unlike me,
they do not like milk much), and keep it strong. The relative
quantities of the three ingredients, along with the relative time
points of their addition are important factors here. The water is
brought to a boil (and kept like this for some time, if other
ingredients are to be added, such as mashed ginger, and/or spices
such as cardamom and cloves - all mashed freshly with a mortar-and-pestle),
and then the tea leaves are added. As the colour
intensifies, a controlled quantity of milk is added, and the
mixture again brought to a boil, after which it is left to simmer
on a low flame, with the concoction stirred (much like the witch
in the fairy tales does) with the pan semi-covered. This is done
till the rich chocolatey colour develops.

Tea on the other hand, is something which most Bong households
seem to have - some leaves from an exotic garden in the North
East - specifically, Darjeeling, or Assam, and some like the
Nilgiri (Doddabetta) tea as well, not to mention varieties from
Ceylon/Sri Lanka. For these tea connoisseurs, the `Gauge' does
not quite make it. Tea is best taken freshly brewed, without any
milk or sugar, or any addition, for that matter. Water is brought
to a boil, and then, the source of heat is turned off, as tea
leaves are added to the water, and the pan covered - this is best
done in a tea jug, which is covered with a `tea cosy', and the
leaves (actually, `two leaves and a bud') are left to release
their goodness into the water. This is also not left for a long
time, lest it get an astringent taste. The best teas are taken
with a light brew, to accentuate the flavour.

An interesting feature of this flight was an announcement of the
Birmingham and Sydney-Melbourne flights. This was a first time
for me, an announcement of an upcoming route - which bodes well
for the airline. If the airline does not advertise its own
services, who will?

64.7 In Coimbatore

I was put up in the impressive Hotel Aloft. One of the
interesting installations on my floor was an old Vespa scooter.



I put my bags in, and hurried to work. By the time I got back in
the late afternoon, I was quite tired, and looked at the string
of SMSes that had come in.
Shukla-ji advised me to try out a restaurant in Gandhipuram,
one which served fried rabbit.
``I hope I won't have a hare-raising experience,'' I replied.
Coimbatore would be a station which Jet Airways fans may not
remember too fondly. Jet Airways's inaugural flight was from
Mumbai to...Sulur - the Brazilian captain had landed the plane at
the nearby Sulur air base by mistake. That had resulted in his
career getting a `Brazilian waxing', with the bad pun (on my
part) on the term `waxing,' since it was more in line with
its exact opposite, `waning'.

Here is an awesome evening view from my hotel window: a bit of
Coimbatore, with dark rain clouds all around, and the Dodabetta
peak of Ooty (Udhagamandalam/Ootacamund) seen in the background.
The sun's hide and seek had created interesting patterns amidst
the cloudy skies!



I was very tired by evening, and hit the bed quite soon.
I wanted to wake up early next morning, and complete my pending work.
The mind proposes, and the mind often disposes.
Disposes of the thought of getting up early in the morning.
I woke up with a start, as it was nearly time for waking up
The Wife and Junior back in Delhi, so that the latter could go to
school on time. I did the honours, and then
hurried with my own work to complete. I did my daily chores, and
then got to work, till...hunger pangs took over.
I just had to go for the buffet breakfast at the hotel.

The buffet spread was quite substantial, and much to my liking.
Apart from the fruits, juices, milk and cereal, were some things
which I just loved: idlIs, iDDI-appam with
vegetable stew, and quite a few other delicacies, which I
consumed in copious quantities.
``Would you like to have tea, or coffee?'' a waiter asked me.
I have always taken that as an unambiguous signal to be politely
prodded to now let go, and start winding up my gluttony.
When my mind does not work in sending the right signals to stop,
one has to often rely on an external interrupt signal.
``Coffee,'' I blurted out without thinking.
As I finished the last few morsels on my plate, the gentleman had
a steaming hot coffee in his hand.
``Filter coffee?'' I asked, hopefully.
``N...no, Sir...Instant coffee,'' he replied, a bit taken aback.
No, they did not have filter coffee.
I was saddled with yet another ordinary coffee,
which was at least hot, and strong.

I looked at my watch, and even though my mind suggested another helping,
my tummy's plaintive yelping told me that it was time to leave.
As I left the breakfast lounge, the lady at the entrance asked me
my room number. I noticed a familiar expression on the lady's face.
Most staff at buffet breakfasts give me the same
exasperated-and-yet-pleased look.
I really wonder, why.

My previous trip to this nice city had seen me being accommodated
in the host's Guest House. This time, I had been put up in a hotel.
I texted my friends about the difference, with a Theoretical
Computer Science flavour: `Automata and Formal Language'.
Most of the staff at hotels used very formal language, and went
about their tasks like automatons. The service in guest houses
was a bit rough on the edges, usually, but a bit from the heart.

64.8 Heading Back

Just imagine.
A glutton like me not finding the time to catch a quick bite.
My host requested me to at least have a snack with them, but I
had an eye on the clock, which said that I had to rush. I was in
most part responsible for the delay - I should have been done by
12 noon, joined them for lunch, and set out for the airport
around 1 pm. Instead, I was huffing and puffing in to the
airport at around 2pm. While I was in the vehicle to the airport,
one of my Delhi-based aviation geek friends told me that my ride
for the day would be PU, the `plasticy' plane VT-PPU.
I have been on this bird before, and now was in the mood for some PJs.
``PPU can't dance, sAlA,'' I texted him, referring
to the popular song of the Imran Khan-Genelia D'Souza-starrer film.
``As long as it can rotate, it should be fine,'' he texted back!

I entered the airport with a smile.
The check-in went off fine, and quickly.
So did the security check, and I went upstairs to where Gates 6
and 7 were. Our flight was supposed to board from Gate 6.
Indigo flight 6E293 had just pushed back (they had boarded from
gate 7, an aero-bridge gate like our gate 6), and took off for
Mumbai and Bhubaneshwar. The terminal building was clean, and
well-maintained. This was the `currency' plane INR, VT-INR.



The itinerary for my return journey was as follows:

Set out 19 Jul (Fri) for New Delhi from Coimbatore
AI 658: Air India (A321) [Seat: 10F; PNR: JX31Q]
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]

02:32 pm.
I noticed PPU make a smooth landing on Coimbatore's runway 23.
It came in, and docked on gate 6. We boarded well on time.
I did not notice how many passengers got down at Coimbatore, since
I had gone to take a walk around the terminal then, and perhaps
try to see if I could take a picture of PPU from the ground
floor (I couldn't: the aero-bridge was blocking the view). I made
my round of the terminal to try to find out about food options -
there was one airport restaurant land-side, and a snack joint
air-side. I careful read of the menu items whetted up my appetite.
There were very few people on the plane, passengers connecting
from Kozhikode to Mumbai or Delhi. Among them were two in the
business class. The Economy class would have had about 20-25
passengers, when I boarded. I was the first to board, and was
welcomed aboard by a cheerful senior lady, after a smiling Air
India agent (an elderly gentleman) who had checked me in, tore
off a part of my boarding pass, and wished me a nice journey
to...he remembered, Delhi! (He did not look at the details on my
boarding pass). If there were 20-25 people to start with, there
wasn't a single empty seat left by the time the doors were closed.
Captain Sachin Gupta was in command, and Ms. Meena was the cabin
in-charge. It was still drizzling by the time Captain Gupta released
the throttles, and executed a powerful take-off on runway 23. We
turned about 90 degrees to the right, soon after take-off.

64.9 A meal, lunch...at 03:45 pm

Yes, I was naturally hungry.
Almost as soon as we reached cruising altitude, there were some
scattered clouds, and when we crossed Udhagamandalam (Ootacamund,
or Ooty, as it is better known as), the weather looked clear, but
there was some constant CAT - Clear Air Turbulence.
I understood that the service could not start then, but I was
pleasantly surprised as the lady seated on the jump-seat near the
starboard-side exit got up, and went up front.
I was drifting in and out of sleep - it had been a tiring day.
People usually set an alarm to wake them up.
I usually do so too, but sometimes, it does not work quite well,
as I have indicated, at the start of this trip report.

The irresistible aroma of the lunch trays - as soon as my
nostrils caught a whiff of the goodies, I was up and alert.
A charming senior lady was going about the service at this part
of the cabin. The PTVs on our row were not working, while the
rest all around me, were. A couple on the seats beside mine
happened to ask the lady, and she was smilingly apologetic about
it, saying that these had conked off some time back, and they
would not be able to set them right. The couple was nice and
understanding about it, which was a pleasant surprise to me.
The normal reaction to such an occurrence, as I have seen
regularly, is a ``Oh this is Air India,'' muttered under the
breath. The plane was otherwise clean, but the fabric looked worn
out at places, and in general, a bit tired.

Non-veg, please.
The tray had a malayAlI baroTA peeping out, which started
my juices flowing. The typical malayAlI baroTA is
something like the layered lacchhA parAnThA of the north.
This is an unleavened bread, fried on the outside. It was done
with a sinful refined flour (maidA) as opposed to the
ATTA, of an ordinary parAnThA.
The salad bowl looked promising. There were three slices of
cucumber serrated at the edges, three thin slices of an orange
carrot (which were similarly serrated), a wedge of lemon, two
slices of tomatoes, and an aromatic green chilly.
`Grass,' as The Wife would say.
These varieties of green chillies were tasteful, without the
brain-burning sensation associated with consuming some other
varieties. The lemon was not very tasty, but I sprinkled it
nevertheless on the `green' salad (well, only the cucumber and
the chilly were green, strictly speaking.)
The main course had some aromatic rice in the middle (this is
bAsmatI, but is known as TooTA bAsmatI in Delhi -
broken bAsmatI rice, which has the aroma, but not the grain
length to make it a real delicacy.
Of course, it costs much less than the noodle-like one.
To the left was a very tasty raw banana dry curry. It was done
with curry leaves/kaDhI pattA and some mustard
(`rai' seeds), with a little bit of turmeric,
and a touch of chilly powder.
The banana pieces had been chopped into wedges, with the skin. The other
side had a nice chicken curry done with curry leaves, a bit of
coriander powder, finely chopped onions which had been browned
till golden in colour, and had been cooked in a cream-based
gravy, which made is quite sinful, but...extremely tasty!
I was not looking forward to the dessert, which was a somewhat
milky pAyasam, done with the same bAsmatI rice, as above.
It was not as thick as the Bong pAyesh, nor did it have a creamy colour
to it, brought about by some drying of the milk. However, one
spoonful was enough to raise my spirits, it wasn't as milky as I
had imagined it to be, and wasn't overtly sweet, either.
In a major departure from tradition, the instant coffee ended up
as tasty, strong and hot, and served as the perfect conclusion to a great meal!
Both my expansive belly, as well as the plane, were 100% full.
The former, not for long, as the regular reader knows.
The latter...only time would tell!

Soon afterwards, the Captain came on the Intercom and apologised
for switching off the seat belt sign quite late into the flight,
since there had been quite a lot of turbulence on the route. He
said that we were currently cruising at 30,000 feet, and would
descend to FL 280, to avoid some CAT at FL300 - he would not like
to bell the cat, neither did we passengers want him to do the same!
He announced the temperature at Mumbai to be 28 degrees
Celcius, and a visibility of 3000 metres. He suspected that there
would be some congestion around Mumbai, so we may have to hold
around a bit. The weather would be clear, but by the time we took
off for Delhi again, it was expected to rain again.

64.10 The Halt at Mumbai

Captain Gupta brought the plane down from the extremely cloudy
skies, as we crossed the Western Express Highway, over the
Ghatkopar station, with the Powai hill to our right, the
Hiranandani Gardens, and a bit of IIT Bombay and the Powai lake
visible in the background, over Jari Mari, and made a textbook
landing on the main runway 27. There was an Air India B777W in
the far hangars, one on a remote stand close to the runway 27
end, a B744 on an international gate with another B777 beside it
(the latter took off at 05:40 pm, and the former, at 06:05 pm),
and an Air India A332 and another B744 parked near the new
terminal finger. An Air India Express B738 was at a remote stand.
There wasn't any other interesting plane to spot, except for a
wingletted Indigo bird VT-IFK, which parked at
Terminal 1-C, just to our right.



We had landed at 04:53 pm, well on time.
The halt at Mumbai would be for just under an hour.
A friend was flying in to Delhi from Pune, where he
had the Go Air 08:55 pm flight. He texted me at 05:45 pm, saying
that his ride for the day was the `prayer' plane Om: VT-GOM, a
new bird with Sharklets. He was wondering about food options,
which left me a bit surprised, since unlike me,
he does not have a shark-like appetite!
A stream of humanity starting boarding the plane soon after.
It filled up, completely.
There was not an empty seat in sight, in the Economy section,
at least. I was on the star-board side of the plane (the right),
hence I noticed the Air India hangars alone, which had two
B777s inside, one B744, and one Air India Express B738.
Awaiting parting out were an Aryan Cargo A310F, and an Air India
A310, in the old livery with the lovely Hawa Mahal style of
windows, that I really like. The trend towards simplicity in
design has taken away this lovely motif around the windows, and
replaced it with a far simpler, but completely plane Jane (in my
opinion), a rectangular pattern, with a small spire crest on top,
in the middle. Beside the secondary runway towards the 32 end,
was the sad sight of Kingfisher aircraft lying stored, two A320s,
one ATR-72, and two aircraft once with the owner, a biz-jet
(an HS125?), and an ACJ - an Airbus Corporate Jet A319.
There was an intermittent pattern in the action on the main
runway 27 - there were alternate take-offs and landings.
Captain Gupta executed another powerful take-off, and just after
crossing the Juhu beach, banked right. We were off to Delhi.

64.11 Snack-time!

I would be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to the snack.
Yes, the dinner service started on the BOM-DEL sector from the
7pm flight onwards, and this was the 6pm flight.
Captain Gupta had warned us of some chop on the way, which might
get intense as we approached Delhi. The snack turned out to be
superb in both quality and quantity, but there would be a
twist/twister to the tale/tail. The cabin crew had a large number
of young people on board, who went about their tasks with panache.

I had observed a Taj-SATS catering truck pull up to our plane on
the star-board (right side), so I expected some nice bakes.
So, when the tray landed up on my seat, I looked forward to even
the ordinary sandwich. Yes, the Mumbai `shendwees', with the
usual `maskA' (butter) replaced with a cheese spread. It had thin
slices of cucumber and tomatoes inside, but the bread
was...incredibly soft and fresh. My neighbours looked at me with
trepidation, as I put the sandwich to my nose first, rather than my
mouth - where it remained for quite some time, before it
went inside, an inch below.
The main tray had another nice bakery item, vegetable patties,
which had the unmistakable aroma of capsicum/bell pepper tossed
around in lightly fried onions and shredded tomatoes. My
neighbours looked at me suspiciously, as I pried open the two
sides very carefully, much like a surgeon would perform a fine
surgery, and examine what was inside - just to verify indeed, that
my olfactory senses had not gone wrong.
(The gentleman on seat 10E was film-maker Vinod Zutshi, by the
way, who showed me a preview of his serial on educationist
Savitri-bai Phule, a bit later.)
To the right, was a chicken malAI TikkA, skewered chicken pieces
(they smelt as if they had indeed been skewered on a slow charcoal
fire, and not the quick and modern microwave way), surprisingly in
a cream-based gravy. The marination had been done excellently, as
the flavour of the spices had seeped well inside.
By this time, the beverage service had started, and I had a taste
of some reasonable instant coffee, served from one of the old
Indian Airlines long-necked jugs.
The sweet blew my senses away. It looked like another fusion
dessert, with what looked, from a distance, like a small brownie,
which had been shaped like a rhombus. What would this be?
As I tried to get my silverware through it, it seemed hard.
I took a piece, and rolled in about my tongue, and let a small amount go in.
An involuntary yelp of delight escaped from my mouth.
It was a heavenly mixture of crushed dates, and figs
(`Anjeer')! Other chopped dry fruits had also been added as
embellishments: cashew and walnut, from what I could make out.
What a superb dessert this was!

64.12 A Twist(er) to the Tail of the Tale

As I was savouring the taste of the lovey snack, the Captain
announced some turbulence ahead, in what seemed like calm
weather. There were wispy cumulus clouds around, but flashes of
lightning were visible inside the clouds. Captain Gupta requested
the cabin crew to be at their stations - this was much prior to
landing, so I anticipated some really heavy chop.
That was the twist/twister to the tail of this tale.
The up and down movement made me extremely uncomfortable, with
all the wonderful food violently striking at the walls of my works.
This lasted for quite a while, as the Captain tried to
extricate us through the weather mess. There was still some chop
as we saw the lights of Delhi from the West, and Captain Gupta
executed a nice landing on the new runway 29.

There is nothing really more to write about. There was a massive
traffic jam on the outer ring road till about Vasant Vihar, and
the pre-paid taxi took more than an hour in all, to get back
home, when it should have hardly taken half-and-hour.

Actually, there is quite a lot to write about.
I urge the reader to read on!

64.13 Overheating Ovens: The Wife, AI 020 DEL-CCU, 24 Jul'13

The Wife had to make a quick dash to Calcutta on some work.
She was booked on AI 020 DEL-CCU, 24 Jul'13. Her itinerary was as follows:

Set out 24 Jul (Wed) for Kolkata from New Delhi
AI 020: Air India (Dream)liner) [Seat: 12A; PNR: JPP6E]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - NSCBIA Domestic Terminal T2, Kolkata
New Delhi (DEL) - Kolkata (CCU)
[01:20 pm - 03:35 pm]

She wanted to reach the city well before dusk, and a Dream)liner
experience would do fine as well.
This would be her first Dream)liner experience.
She reached Calcutta. And went about her work.
So did I, back in Delhi.
In the meanwhile, the papers on 25 Jul'13 (Thu) reported a fire
in an oven inside an Air India Dream)liner.
I saw some posts on this forum, and missed quite a few as well.

It was only on 06 Aug (Tue), that it struck me.
I was having an e-conversation with my friend Mr. All-Stare MacLean,
when he asked me about The Wife's experiences aboard that flight.
Initially, I brushed it off, saying that no, it could not be so,
as The Wife would have told me about it.
My next step was checking about it on this forum, on the thread:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13308.html
The Wife was still in Calcutta.
I called her up immediately, to check on her, and the facts.

abhigopal wrote:
Just saw in the other post that actually, Mrs.
Sumantra might have been on that flight? More details please?

I was stupid enough not to read a few posts of concern.

In fact, till that point, I had enjoyed some jokes both on the
forum, and off it.
``How do you identify a Dream)liner in the sky?''
``Oh, there will be three contrails, two white, and one black.''
Nimish wrote:
The food was too spicy!

The_Goat wrote:
Maybe our friend sumantraji was on board.
"Behenji, zara tikka masala garam kar layiye", and then boom

I had laughed it off, saying that I had been on Princess ANI and
the `distance' plane NM: on 27 Jul and 28 Jul 2013,
respectively (DEL-MAA, and MAA-DEL on AI 439 and AI 430,
respectively), and had some nice trips, but had been off AI.net for a
few days, and missed some nice posts.
AI 020 was on my radar - I would have liked to experience the new T2 at
CCU - the new one at Chennai was quite a nice experience!

All until that moment.
The headlines read,
``Oven on Air India’s Boeing 787 catches fire''
``Probe opened as Air India Boeing Dreamliner oven overheats midair''
``Probe shows oven overheated during Dreamliner flight, aircraft not faulty''
``Ovens on Air India Dreamliners to be repaired''

The Wife set out for the airport well in time. I had forgotten to
tell her that this was an `International connector', which would
go from the International part of IGI Airport's T3, to the
International part of NSCBI Airport's brand-new T2.
The Wife rang me up, to appraise me of the situation, and the
sights all around. The plane in question was VT-ANL, the
`cancellation' (`annul') plane, one of Air India's newest planes till then.
The flight was about an hour late in setting out from Delhi,
and passengers would have been understandably, hungry.

The Wife had recently become the proud possessor of both a new
Sony Experia Tipo smart phone, as well as a decent Nikon Coolpix
point-and-shoot camera. She used the smart phone to take a picture of the
Dream)liner seat, from a slightly uncommon angle.



The Wife had sighted a USB port, and put it to good use.
I have lost track of the type, and number of USB devices she uses.
She used her smart phone to take a picture of the scene out of
her window seat, 12A. This is the Jet Airways B77W flight to
London Heathrow, a popular option out of Delhi.



She then fiddled around with the screen darkener button, and took
a picture with her new camera as well.



The reason for her new cell phone was that her favourite flip
phone was falling apart. She had used it for some time, with the
parts stuck together with cellophane tape.
We laughingly referred to it as her Cello-phone.

I had repeatedly asked her to make a note of the food items
served to her, during the lunch service. The non-vegetarian option
had chicken in white/cream sauce, rice, gulAb jAmun (a
cottage cheese- and powdered grain-based ball, fried from the
outside to a brownish colour, and served in a sugar syrup base),
salad, dAl (pulses), and unsurprisingly, a very ordinary
coffee. The vegetarian option had a paneer (cottage
cheese)-based dish. She remembers some smell coming in (though
she was closer to the other galley), which she did not pay much heed to.

The rear galley had a malfunctioning oven. News reports varied
from a fire in a rear galley oven to smoke being detected from an oven.
The inside news (pun unintended!) was that there was no fire as
such, it was the faulty oven producing a lot of steam, and
luckily, the flight attendant did not get hurt by the scalding vapour.
The crew had not announced anything, for obvious reasons.
They had been number 6 in the landing sequence at Calcutta: there
was some congestion around the place.
In the end, as they say, `All's well that ends well!'
---
Links to my 64 trip reports:
https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/


Last edited by sumantra on Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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ameya
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Sir for another great TR. It was good to read this on a Monday Morning.

I made it a point to finish my breakfast and then read this, thus controlling hunger! after your
usually great description of food.

While I have been a big supporter of AIs network, flights like the peak time AI 657 getting extended
to CJB/CCJ definitely dilutes yeilds, it should ideally be tagged on to afternoon flights.

Unfortunately, all afternoon flights are flying one stop already, JAI/UDR/BHO/IXU

Looks like a strange crew pattern, where DEL crew got down at BOM, making me think that BOM crew
would operate BOM-CJB-CCJ-CJB-BOM. On the return leg, your crew came in from CCJ, but go all the way till DEL !

Sir did you mean Savitribai phule and not shanta bai phule by any chance? while referring to educationist

Glad Madamjee had a safe flight to CCU ! The scareliner is definitely one aircraft which gives relatives some tension
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himmat01
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Sirjee for the yumsome report. Always a pleasure to go through your reports. In case you get tired of your current career, you have a great alternate career in writing.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for another great TR, Sumantra sir!

Come to think of it, RJ's days in India are now limited, they are disappearing very soon. And now that you've mentioned it, the 787 does look like a salamander! Razz
I miss BOM a lot, really gutted that this year's trip didn't happen, but oh well.
Its something, especially during the rain!
Amazing that you got vada-pav on a plane, that's something you rarely hear about! That tea description was mesmerizing! I know you pointed out the different types of teas all bongs consume, but me, being the most un-bong bong you'll ever find, I prefer Oolong tea Twisted Evil

VT-Indian Rupee was my first flight with IndiGo. Was pretty decent Smile

Looks like you had a set of pure monsoon flights in India - turbulence all round! And I miss those Sad
Nice interesting add on, regarding the overheating oven on the B788, glad it all turned out to be pretty OK!

Looking forward to more, sir!

Regards
Jish
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sumantra - another immaculate and detailed report. The oven on fire incident was of course the best part of the post - as it provided something out of the ordinary.

I wonder if folks know that Coimbatore has one of the best Orthopedics/ Plastic Surgery hospitals in the country? The http://www.gangahospital.com/ is world renowned and I know of friends from BLR gong to Coimbatore for days/ weeks for treatment and (successful) recovery...
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ameya Sir, thanks for your in-depth analysis, as usual. Some points:
ameya wrote:
While I have been a big supporter of AIs network, flights like the peak time AI 657 getting extended to CJB/CCJ definitely dilutes yields, it should ideally be tagged on to afternoon flights.Unfortunately, all afternoon flights are flying one stop already, JAI/UDR/BHO/IXU
The 4 latter flights are all tags on the main Delhi-Mumbai corridor, and an interesting experiment, to cover most of the afternoon traffic on these one-stops, while at the same time, providing connectivity between the two main cities. About AI 657: Hmm...CJB sees good loads, but this is completely circumstantial evidence. Yields: I do not have much idea about the yields on this route.
ameya wrote:
Looks like a strange crew pattern, where DEL crew got down at BOM, making me think that BOM crew
would operate BOM-CJB-CCJ-CJB-BOM. On the return leg, your crew came in from CCJ, but go all the way till DEL!
Sir, I think you are correct about the first statement: the cabin crew doing BOM-CJB-CCJ-CJB-BOM. I do not know about the FDTL requirements. Something interesting to me, from the comfort of my armchair is the routing for this plane:
DEL-BOM-CJB-CCJ (as AI 657)
CCJ-CJB-BOM-DEL (as AI 658)
DEL-BOM (as AI 602).
The plane starts at DEL, and ends at BOM, for the day.
AI like to rotate their birds through BOM and DEL.

ameya wrote:
Sir did you mean Savitribai phule and not shanta bai phule by any chance? while referring to educationist
Thanks, Sir for pointing out my stupidity. Savitribai Phule, of course. I was listening to Hindi film songs of the 1930s era by Shanta Apte, and I guess that was the reason for the bad mistake!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

himmat01 wrote:
In case you get tired of your current career...
Thanks a lot for the kind words, Himmat Sir: we miss regular reports from you! Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the detailed observations and the INR part which I forgot, Jishnu!
jbalonso777 wrote:
but me, being the most un-bong bong you'll ever find, I prefer Oolong tea
Don't be surprised, Sir. Right now, The Wife and I are enjoying some different teas I brought along from my 2011 Beijing trip, which includes the Oolong, and some blends of Jasmine tea with Oolong, with its characteristic rolled leaves. The Wife prefers Oolong with a hint of honey and a drop of lemon juice. She tried a Japanese blend with a smoky flavour as well, of late. I have to give her company Razz
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish, thank you for your constant encouragement, and going through my reports regularly!
Nimish wrote:
The oven on fire incident was of course the best part of the post - as it provided something out of the ordinary.
We are glad it stopped at just that Smile
Nimish wrote:
I wonder if folks know that Coimbatore has one of the best Orthopedics/ Plastic Surgery hospitals in the country?
Great...one learns new things each day!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sri_bom
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Joined: 22 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very nice and detailed report Sumantra.

I see that you prefer butter rock hard what is the logic? I hate that when I get it as I am unable to spread the butter, which sometimes is a good thing as I end up eating the bread without butter which is good for my heart. I repeat this again Air India in spite of all the cost issues has somehow managed to keep its food menu still attractive and you do a beautiful job of explaining this.

The yellow Vespa scooter was it the original Italian made or one of those crappy ones that was assembled and made in India by LML. I see a lot of these vintage style automobiles on display at some of the fancy restaurants in Singapore.

Your description of all the teas ended up me making a cuppa for my self. J

Good to know your wife had a safe and enjoyable trip with the Dreamliner.

Sri_Bom
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ameya
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Ameya Sir, thanks for your in-depth analysis, as usual. Some points:
ameya wrote:
While I have been a big supporter of AIs network, flights like the peak time AI 657 getting extended to CJB/CCJ definitely dilutes yields, it should ideally be tagged on to afternoon flights.Unfortunately, all afternoon flights are flying one stop already, JAI/UDR/BHO/IXU
The 4 latter flights are all tags on the main Delhi-Mumbai corridor, and an interesting experiment, to cover most of the afternoon traffic on these one-stops, while at the same time, providing connectivity between the two main cities. About AI 657: Hmm...CJB sees good loads, but this is completely circumstantial evidence. Yields: I do not have much idea about the yields on this route.
ameya wrote:
Looks like a strange crew pattern, where DEL crew got down at BOM, making me think that BOM crew
would operate BOM-CJB-CCJ-CJB-BOM. On the return leg, your crew came in from CCJ, but go all the way till DEL!
Sir, I think you are correct about the first statement: the cabin crew doing BOM-CJB-CCJ-CJB-BOM. I do not know about the FDTL requirements. Something interesting to me, from the comfort of my armchair is the routing for this plane:
DEL-BOM-CJB-CCJ (as AI 657)
CCJ-CJB-BOM-DEL (as AI 658)
DEL-BOM (as AI 602).
The plane starts at DEL, and ends at BOM, for the day.
AI like to rotate their birds through BOM and DEL.

ameya wrote:
Sir did you mean Savitribai phule and not shanta bai phule by any chance? while referring to educationist
Thanks, Sir for pointing out my stupidity. Savitribai Phule, of course. I was listening to Hindi film songs of the 1930s era by Shanta Apte, and I guess that was the reason for the bad mistake!
Cheers, Sumantra.


Thanks! It is a good practice to rotate aircraft between different bases, helps a lot for maintenance.

As for FDTL, I guess one can do 4 landings in a day with max 8 hours of actual flying time. But I am not 100% sure on this
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sri_bom wrote:
I see that you prefer butter rock hard what is the logic?
I wish I were as health-conscious as you are. To me, rock-hard butter tastes much better than a slightly warmer version, which is easily spreadable. Our tradition has oily items such as ghee (clarified butter) to be consumed in a hot, molten state, ditto for the white butter that is put on top of many dishes.

sri_bom wrote:
I repeat this again Air India in spite of all the cost issues has somehow managed to keep its food menu still attractive
Now you know one of the main reasons I still patronise Air India Smile The TR is circa Jul'13, and after the further cost cutting came in, I started avoiding the non-meal segments on longer flights, for obvious reasons. I generally prefer AI's breakfast, lunch or dinner flights. The shorter flights are now very disappointing for me. There is no buy-on-board either, and on Air India Regional (Alliance Air) AI-R/CD/9I which has the BoB, the menu is hardly attractive, and cannot be pre-booked, either: something that increases chances of getting a certain dish on my wish-list. It is for the same reason I am not to happy with the news of 9W-K winding up: the BoB meals I could have booked on the short AT7 segments will no longer be available, and I may have to go hungry. What a terrifying thought!

sri_bom wrote:
The yellow Vespa scooter was it the original Italian made or one of those crappy ones that was assembled and made in India by LML. I see a lot of these vintage style automobiles on display at some of the fancy restaurants in Singapore.
I have no idea about such details, Sir! I guess it would be one of the Indian ones, which had a second innings under the `Priya' brand, after Bajaj updated their 150 model to the Chetak: all of which seemed to be based on the original Italian Vespa 150.

sri_bom wrote:
Your description of all the teas ended up me making a cuppa for my self.
Nice, Sir Smile I am a bit surprised however, being a Kannadiga, don't tell me that you prefer tea over a supreme Kodagu-based strong filter kApI? Singapore's Tamilians also seem to have a distinct preference for the same. I guess your long Mumbai innings has made you lean a bit toward chAhA!

Thanks a lot for all your sweet words: I really appreciate it!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR again. Gotta love hopping flights just so you get a meal service more than once! Smile

sumantra wrote:
It is for the same reason I am not to happy with the news of 9W-K winding up: the BoB meals I could have booked on the short AT7 segments will no longer be available, and I may have to go hungry. What a terrifying thought!


As for this thought - what did 9W serve on the ATR sectors back in the pre-Konnect days?
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spiderguy252 wrote:
Gotta love hopping flights just so you get a meal service more than once!
Precisely, Varun. Thank you for your appreciation!
Spiderguy252 wrote:
As for this thought - what did 9W serve on the ATR sectors back in the pre-Konnect days?
I did not patronise the Jet ATRs in the olden days, so I really do not know, but would love to know about this!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you sumantra sir for posting another great read.

So many dreamliners at DEL, I wish I could fly on one. Since the DEL-COK leg has now gone 4x daily (the new one being DEL-GOI-COK), I wonder if Kochi will get a domestic dreamliner. AI could then rotate it to somewhere in the middle east as well. Count me in on the inaugural if they do!

The food sounds great as usual. BTW, why was there no non-veg option? Was it the crew lying about and then serving it two rows down? (Psst, here)

Also, thanks for including the micro TR on your wife's flight. I see that it was just all the media beefing up a tiny issue, as usual.

Cheers!

Aditya

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Sir, for the appreciation: it really means a lot to me, coming from one of the best video TR writers around on any airline forum, not just this one.
Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
(Psst, here)
Sir, please ensure that the Psst results in a complete text TR as well. One of the joys of your presentations is the ability of the reader to go back and forth on both media, and read, and re-read parts of the trip report, at one's own pace, and being able to supplement one medium with the other. I would love to view the video TR once again, with the text version. The crew was definitely unprofessional with the meal service. Some times, it is the lack of coordination between different crew members serving different parts of the cabin as well, but what perhaps happened in your case is a crew member refusing to admit his/her mistake in not sighting your preference in time, and not making up for it, later.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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