1 Nov 2006

TQ Live 2006 – The flight

The one question that so far everyone has asked me over the past few days or so is: So what did you do in San Francisco. So here we go, a recap of ThinkQuest Live 2006. I am going to split this up into many parts, as I plan to recapture almost everything that I did through the week. It was a rather interesting week, so I do want to pen it down in detail.

The flight

As we all know, the customs and security checks for US bound flights can be quite an hassle. This time, due to the liquid bomb scare that we had a few months ago in the United Kingdom, there were additional regulations that forbid people to carry liquid items like water and medicines in hand luggage. We (my mom and I) sort of heard about this, and so we relegated all the liquid items to the cargo box. But the sight of people trying to desperately finish off their Coke or Pepsi on hearing the new restriction was a comedy.

In fact, I did see the customs officer confiscating wine bottles from the customers, in Frankfurt, where I had the flight transition. I flew by Lufthansa, and I should say that their service from Chennai to San Francisco (on the way back it was better, which makes me wonder) was pretty disappointing. They missed serving drinks to us a couple of times, and generally I did not feel the friendly warmth.

I have heard in the past that the Lufthansa crew did not treat the Indians as well as they treat the Americans. Well, I would be biased to judge them based on just one experience, but respect is something I think should be earned.

The way some Indians passengers behave on the airport and on-board leaves a very bad impression. In fact, many of these people are well educated, and are probably software engineers or something abroad. Yet, somehow when they are in Indian territory or amongst fellow Indians, they forget their manners.

The same people who do not litter in America, throw their rubbish at will everywhere in India. The same people who queue up patiently for their turn in America behave like uncivilised barbarians when they push and rush to board the flights, and barge out of the flight to quickly reach the customs.

I am not saying people from other countries don’t do it. But why can’t people behave in India like they do overseas? Because, they are not fined here for things they do that will definitely be overseas? In fact, I am pretty disappointed at the way some NRIs(Non Residential Indians), treat India. But I will reserve that rant for another day.

The journey was long and arduous. The stop over at Frankfurt was especially a bit unnerving because our flight arrived a little late, and we had to take a skytrain to another terminal for the connecting flight. Now, I have heard so much about the German accent… they are supposedly very hard to follow. Well ok, at times I was caught wondering if the speaker is talking in German or English, but overall, once you realise it’s actually English, I could follow it. Not so bad. But, I guess the guys who spoke into the microphones in the airport are supposed to speak good English anyway. I don’t know. Too bad I didn’t have a chance to speak in English with an ordinary German.

Landed at San Francisco at around 2.00 PM. The weather was fantastic. Aircon temperature, but lots of sunshine. The airport is about 35 kilometeres from the hotel. But we reached it in 20 minutes. How I wish I had such highways enroute to college. Pity. The highway seems to be literally laid out in cement. Just solid. Compare that with the roads in India, and it was a sort of tragic comedy.

Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel soon arrived. And finally the trip was underway.

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