Wednesday, February 11

The Journey Begins

Day 2

Sunday, Morning 09:30, 9th feb 2009

MORNING SIDE VILLAGE, JOHANNESBURG

09:30 hours was actually 13:00 hours back in India. Least expected, my mobile buzzed off as my colleague tried reaching me for 5th time continuous. I lifted my head and stretched my hands to grab the watch. The intersecting hands, struck afternoon’s 1 on my analogue watch, just in time to send sinusoidal waves in my head. But, soon I realized my first jet-lag was set in. But, instead, the pleasant South African morning did away all my time trail.

I got ready in no minute as my bosses were waiting for me to go for the site seeing. We were on the road once again. I saw the best of 2 and 4 wheelers guzzling on highways and roads with minimum average velocity of 120 kmph. Man that was stealthy. the best of car brands were in the house. You name it, SA has it. Every second car in South Africa is Volkswagen and every third car is either BMW or Nissan or the mini coopers and Renaults or the Mercedes. I won’t be surprised if someone says me that South Africa is the biggest importer of IVY LEAGUE cars in the world. Ducati, BMW bikes were the hot favorites after the Hondas and the ninjas. Well, the startling fact was India’s rich class car, Volkswagen, was actually the common man’s vehicle and the only indian brand running on African roads is TATA. Anyway, moving ahead both in car and in the post, we reached MACKRO supermarket. I did some window shopping and moved to SPA grocery store, a big big store on M1 high downtown. Once done, we moved to 1 of my colleague’s (Bala’s) apartments in MORNINGSIDE VILLAGE. Chicken was prepared at home on the grills with rice and dal. Pre-lunch, offcourse, a unanimous “hi 5” decision was made to wet our throats with “VAT 69” whiskey. Post lunch, I checked my mail at Bala’s place. My eyes went on a mail from a friend back home which made me miss that person the most. I immediately replied back and went numb with a feel of missing someone. I relaxed my ass for some time in the room and tried “Absolute Stock” beer.

Evening everybody planned to go to a casino but my roommate Krishna insisted me to stay back. I met his friend Praxi a.k.a Prakashni (a durbanite) and 3 of us got on to the road for a long drive in the windy weather. We moved across the Sandton city driving at 140 kmph, crossing Gordon road on M1 national highway in Jo’burg and dropped in at YoSushi to catch something for dinner. To my surprise, the meals were supposed to be eaten by chopsticks. I felt awkward as well as humiliated with the fact of creating a fool out of my ass among other guys. But they were supportive enough to teach me how to eat with sticks and ordered a “Black Cobra” beer for me. I enjoyed eating yo’s sushis. We circled around the city for some more time before night’s 11.

Finally, I dropped into my apartments and zoomed right into the bed, i was thinking about my second day's progress report when suddenly something hit me. Did I miss anything? Well, yeah, not the places but I did miss someone tonight…

good night!!!
C ya tomo..

Monday, February 9

The Emirates

Day 1:

Feb 7th, Saturday, Morning 3 AM

I am sitting in a not so isolated Chennai airport @3, waiting for the first call for passengers traveling to Dubai in an Emirates flight EK 543. No doubt, I was pretty excited about my first international trip to Johannesburg via Dubai, but on the other side, I felt far too sleepy, and, icing on the cake was, I could see most of the passengers half slept in a manner, as if, performing some roadside gymnastics, truly, a “statue” moment.

Anyways, the first call was made to board the flight. I along with the bunch started off our journey on a very exciting note. I was more content not with the fact of boarding an international flight but for making it till here (P.S. Luck off course played a crucial role in my selection). The Emirates flight to Dubai from Chennai was all set to depart. Truly speaking, Boeing 347-700 turned out to be a helluva experience for me. You need to see it to believe it. Three parallel rows with monitors on each seat, the ambiance, the comfort level just left me baffled in a pleasant way. There were loads of movies, games, radio channels, TV and you won’t believe this, a phone to make calls from the flight to your loved ones back on earth. Truly, unimaginable. Last I saw this was in Face off movie, when Bruce Makes a call to his wife traveling in the plane hijacked at around 40k above ground.

The flight took off at quarter to 4 and in an hour, the staff served me with, I may call it as either my Friday night’s dinner or Saturday’s breakfast. Channa masala with boiled eggs and “Jacob Creek” red wine. WOW!!! That was my first reaction. But, I knew there’s more to come, after all, Emirates is known for their service. Fact: In Emirates, they serve you every 2 hours, to keep you up and comfortable on long journeys. I plucked in my ear phones and watched “Death race” movie for around an hour and a half, till the hostess came in and asked for anything to drink. I hesitated initially, like any normal Indian would do, but, then, I finally asked for a beer (only if it’s complimentary). Well, next thing was, there was a Heineken beer right on my turning meal stand and water in my mouth and passion in my eyes as it never occurred in my life history when I get to experience the taste of Heineken. As soon as this not-so-sugary nectar touched my lips, I felt salvaged. Carrying on ahead, I was fed with my second breakfast with snacks and chocolates as add-ons. The transient journey died as soon I landed in Dubai at 10 IST. Well, the 6 hour journey turned out to be a definite roller coaster for me.

Waited at the terminal for 2 hours before boarding into a new Emirates flight EK 743, hitting Johannesburg this time. The similar ambiance as I experienced in the first half, I was flooded with more beer and more wine. I decided to watch two and a half movies back to back (half because I have already seen the movie back in India). I started with “the bank job”, followed by “High School Musical 3” and finally “Singh is king” and in the meantime, I experienced the best of Dubai’s non veg in the flight along with JC wine. I would say, I was tired eating but they were not tired serving. So, we landed in Johannesburg at around 4 in the evening (7:30 IST). The worst part was, jet lag was set in. time on my wrist was nowhere in sync with the timings in SA. I got uncle SAM’s dollars exchanged in rands (SA currency) and purchased a Vodacom mobile connection in the airport itself. Frank was there to do the pickup and I settled myself in BMW 320d front seat. My second WOW experience. He offered me to drive it but I depressingly backed out. we made our way to the guest apartments where I met many Indians and got accustomed to their climate and habitat and style of living. People who were already staying in were very supportive and cordial. I met Krishna and Kiran, and these were the guys who shared their apartment with me. I had my very own personal room in SA now. No jokes!!! Late in the evening, krish and I, went to an ISCON temple which was a very enchanting experience for me. There were too many Indians there which gave an impression of being in India again. Thanks to Mahatma Gandhi, there was 1 more india but not in india. I was too tired and about to call it off for the day when a welcome party came as a surprise to me. I had “johnie walker” whisky along with butter chicken and rice. Well, this was one day in my life where I had more alcohol than water. I came back to my room and slept tight to seal the day with my first international south African blog diaries.

More to follow…
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