December 12, 2008

Transit

Another kind of jet lag

Aakash Chopra
Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar listens to music at the Zia International Airport, 07 November 2000, in Dhaka after the arrival of his team in Bangladesh. Bangladesh will play its maiden test match aganist India from 10 to 14 November in Dhaka.
 © AFP
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Dear readers,

Day before yesterday we left our houses at 11am to catch the 1pm flight to Mumbai en route to Rajkot for the sixth round of the Ranji Trophy. As it often happens these days, both our flights got delayed somewhat and it was nearly 8pm by the time we reached our hotel rooms in Rajkot. It amazes me that it can take so much time to reach anywhere within the country by air. But we're seasoned travellers and nothing surprises us any more.

There's always a different set of memories attached with every destination, especially when we frequent these places regularly. We have come to Rajkot often in the recent past and they have brought with them a few pleasant and a few not-so-pleasant memories. I vividly remember our journey to Rajkot to play in the Irani Trophy game against Mumbai at the start of last season.

Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and I were flying together from Delhi. We decided to take the afternoon flight to Mumbai and a connecting flight from Mumbai in the evening. To our utter disbelief, the flight from Delhi refused to take off and just kept getting delayed. The other flights to Mumbai were also running a little late and no matter which flight we decided to take, we were cutting it too fine to make it for our connecting flight to Rajkot.

Since the flight from Mumbai to Rajkot takes about 50 minutes, we were tempted to fly down to Mumbai and take a cab to Rajkot in case we missed our connection. Luckily we asked around before taking this gamble and were told that our intended cab drive would take about eight to nine hours. So Mumbai was ruled out. We flew to Ahmedabad and took a cab from there. We reached the hotel at 1am and woke up our room-mates to be. Since it was our miscalculation, we brushed it aside and didn't crib. Had it been arranged like that by someone else, we would've complained at the top of our voices. We humans tend to forgive ourselves very easily.

Then there was another incident about travelling to the same venue and then to Vijayawada after finishing the game. That time we flew to Ahmedabad and then drove down to Rajkot in a bus, which took nearly four hours. Reaching Rajkot was quite okay but what followed after the game left us all tired. Have a read at the schedule and make up your own mind. The game got over at noon on the final day but since we were asked to check out from the hotel in the morning (to save the rent for a day because the check-out time was noon), we stayed put in the dressing room for the next six hours before leaving for the airport to catch the 8pm flight to Mumbai. We reached Mumbai at 9pm and then had to wait until 2am to board the next flight to Hyderabad.

Going out of the terminal wasn't really an option so we whiled away our time by loitering around when we had the energy to do so and later crashed onto the seats at the airport. The flight reached Hyderabad at 4am and then we were told to wait in the lounge for our next connection to Vijayawada, which was at 2pm. Our limbs and minds had given up by that time and we decided to go into the city to look for a hotel. Searching for a hotel in the wee hours of the morning didn't sound very exciting as it was still quite dark. But you put a bunch of young and fun-loving guys in this melee and it could definitely become quite an entertaining excursion. We roamed the city in a fleet of auto-rickshaws and had our fair share of fun. We crashed upon our beds as soon as we got into the rooms and woke up just in time to make it for the next flight. Thankfully, it wasn't delayed by much. But it took us an hour to reach the hotel even after landing in Vijayawada. So by the time we checked in and settled down in our rooms, it was nearly 5pm.

Someone must've designed this itinerary and he must be human too. But I'm not sure that 20 sleep-deprived tired souls would've been able to muster enough compassion from within their tired hearts to forgive the person responsible for making our journey so happening.

Well, there are a lot of other little stories from various venues but I shall leave them for some other time or perhaps you can read them in my book. Right now I must focus on our must-win game against Saurashtra and since we've managed to stop Cheteshwar Pujara from making merry at his favourite venue we must take the initiative by batting well tomorrow.

Cheers

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by hardik on (December 16, 2009, 19:33 GMT)

hi next time you are in rajkot, plz tell me i will be happy to help you in situations like those unnecessary delays it will be pleasure for me to have a sit with player like you...

Posted by Krish iyer on (December 21, 2008, 19:55 GMT)

Akash, It is best understood that when you use inefficient public transport system (be it air or bus), delays bound to happen. Other issue is that we get limited number of "fine" cricketing days amidst a cramped international calendar. Put both of them together, your scenario is perfectly understandable. I remember my days in India where we drove 6 hours through the night to reach the playground 3 AM and played a game 9 am. Like someone suggested, A C sleeper coaches in trains may be a good option even if you are spending 5 hours in it, vis-a-vis a 1 hour flight (plus 2 hours for security check-in and further unexpected delays!)

But it is appalling to know the price you've to pay to be a top cricketer in India. The people who draw these schedules won't do anything about it because they know you would play anyways.

Cheers!

Krish

Posted by Abhishek on (December 16, 2008, 18:41 GMT)

I think Chartered flights should be used for National level team transportation. How expensive for bcci can it be.

Posted by Bhavani Peddada on (December 16, 2008, 17:40 GMT)

Akash, Most of the travel is like that, unsure of what may happen. Even the best-laid plans are messed up. I am sure you have friends all over India. With your connections, mainly friends in Hyd or else where you could have minimized the anxiety by calling them for help. I am sure they would have obliged.

Posted by Bhavani Peddada on (December 16, 2008, 17:40 GMT)

Akash, Most of the travel is like that, unsure of what may happen. Even the best-laid plans are messed up. I am sure you have friends all over India. With your connections, mainly friends in Hyd or else where you could have minimized the anxiety by calling them for help. I am sure they would have obliged.

Posted by anil on (December 16, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

hi akash nice post Every body in the country heard about Cheteswar Pujara. But since we dont have the facility to view , not being able have a fair view on him. I hopes You have seen him closely, Would you please spent few sentence on him at the next post especially regarding the technical sides and whether he is equiped to face international assignments Thanks and regards Anil Kerala

Posted by hitesh on (December 15, 2008, 18:41 GMT)

Akash;

So sorry to read this........

I wish you had put down all the air lines names that bumped you and your team mates. This will help me and other travelers to ban these air lines, hotels etc.

I will print this article and show it to them, how lousy service they area providing to their customers. If super star like you get this kind of treatment, that what do you provide to an average Joe? Our air line is still two century old and need to revamp their company in order to compete with European and other countries’ air lines.

Better luck next time

Posted by hitesh on (December 15, 2008, 18:40 GMT)

Akash;

So sorry to read this........

I wish you had put down all the air lines names that bumped you and your team mates. This will help me and other travelers to ban these air lines, hotels etc.

I will print this article and show it to them, how lousy service they area providing to their customers. If super star like you get this kind of treatment, that what do you provide to an average Joe? Our air line is still two century old and need to revamp their company in order to compete with European and other countries’ air lines.

Better luck next time

Posted by Rajit on (December 15, 2008, 12:26 GMT)

So much of a logistics nigthmare!Kudos to all the cricketers who have to face such hardships and turn up the next day for a cricket match...

Posted by Icon on (December 14, 2008, 16:50 GMT)

Hyderabad to Vijayawada is 6 hours by train. The new airport at Hyderabad is situated 40 miles away from the city [= min. 1 hour of travel], I would take a train [even if I have to go to chennai].

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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