We wondered why the cab was picking us up at 8. The airport was less than an hour away and we only had to visit one place on the way. The flight was only just past noon and we only had to check in an hour in advance. We were told by the folks at Harvest House that Tiger Cave was not very far off, but it took a couple of hours to explore. We wondered why.
We ceased to wonder after the driver cheerfully informed us that Tiger Cave involved a climb. He was all smiles probably because his job ended at leaving us at the bottom of the hill. Of course, it would be a wonder if we didn’t have to climb, after the experiences so far. Meanwhile, there were a few other things to see before we started the climb. We saw a Ganesha idol here too.
And now for the climb, which I had been putting off. It involved not 100, not 200, but 1237 steps. I was sure that there was a better way to keep my head in the clouds, but we started out nevertheless. To be honest, the climb itself was quite tiring but manageable, though our legs hurt for days after. The problem was with the design at about 400 steps – they suddenly became steep and narrow, but more tragically, I could see on both sides the height we were at, and climbing, and that meant I became jittery. So yes, we stopped, which turned out to be a good thing, because D’s legs gave out when we were near the bottom!
That also meant that we got to the airport a bit in advance, but Air Asia welcomed us warmly and proved that missing the excess kgs in the earlier flight baggage was an anomaly. 500 bahts later, we were in the aircraft and just over an hour later, in Suvarnabhumi. With the aid of the airport map, we scouted the 3rd and 4th levels for lunch and despite the deluge of Japanese options, settled for a Thai lunch on the 3rd level. On hindsight, might not have been a bad idea to check in and lunch on the 4th Level. 2 hours flew past while we gawked at uber expensive brands spread across what seemed like a few kilometres (must have been the tired legs!) and underwent body scans. Finally, we heard the familiar Kingfisher call for Kolkata. We were assured of reaching there with only the pilot ahead of us as we drew 1A and 1B.
Reading a newspaper after a week was a strange experience, and it didn’t help that it was Kolkata Times! But the gossip in the flight rag distracted us even more! Swalpahaar was served, and we watched “Khelein hum jee jaan se” starring Shaky Bachchan and an earnest D-Pad. It was probably because I had drunk a Pepsi after a long time, but I started wondering whether Sid (Mallya kind) would ever wake up and ask D-Pad “Will UB my wife”. Bwahahaha. Ok, sorry.
We landed at Kolkata and immediately felt the brunt of Kolkata’s bureaucratic personnel. For some strange reason, the KF staff insisted that “all passengers proceeding to Bangalore via Hyderabad” had to stick together and move to the other terminal under guidance. Maybe the fuss was because the signs were only in English. Gah. I saw the Coffee Day we had sat in, during our Sikkim trip. We got back into the same flight, D discovered a peanut she had dropped earlier. All the airport waits meant that I finished reading one book and I distracted myself from starting a new book with old Sarabhai vs Sarabhai episodes.
After a brief halt in Hyderabad, where I earned the JetSetter badge on 4sq, and a KF staff invasion meant that there were more airport personnel than passengers, we finally reached Bangalore close to 11 pm and discovered a new phenomenon – waiting lines for cabs. :O And as the tee goes, ‘Aap Qatar main hain’ but thankfully, for a cab that would take us home.
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