26 December, 2012
Taking off on this vacation seemed rather adventure free. In the morning, I attended the meetings and went to the Government Relations (GR) Office to collect my Exit-Reentry visa. I was asked to come after 2:30 PM. So, I was back in my office and going through other meetings. Suddenly, I am attending too many meetings. This is enjoyable as I am learning a lot through each meeting. I have never been a meeting man and always preferred to work out of my office. At 12 Noon, I requested Mugeeth if we could go to a Sony shop and buy Electronic Photo Frames which I wanted to gift Jeet and Prasenjit (Prasenjit is getting married in the end of Jan13). Mugeeth agreed to take me during the lunchtime. Just before 1PM, I realized that I need attending meetings between 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM. Mugeeth was kind to accept to reschedule to take me after 3:30 PM. I had quick-lunch at the canteen with Navas and an enjoyable chat. I returned to find that the first meeting was cancelled. Soon, I also found that the other meeting was also cancelled. After the prayer, Mugeeth and I walked to the Kingdom Tower to collect his car. On the way, I remembered that I had not yet collected my Exit-Reentry visa. I rushed to the GR office. Nawaf informed me that my application was rejected as I had requested for multiple entry and not enough validity remained on my IQAMA. He advised changing the application for single entry. I did so and waited patiently (nervously) for the next 30 minutes till the online Exit-Reentry visa was in my hand. I thanked Nawaf and team profusely. Nawaf gave a chocolate, which I accepted and actually badly needed to overcome the anxiety. Mugeeth and I headed for Extra on King Abdulaziz Road and purchased the Photo frames. On returning, I saw a message from Mr. Nowaf to complete my appraisal. I promptly did the needful. I was overjoyed with the feedback. However, for some strange reason I totally forgot this action.
I locked my office and took a taxi to reach home. I completed the last bit of packing and was soon headed for the Airport. Mr. Swamidas had sent a new person to drive me to Airport this time. This person was rather quiet and did not respond to my stupid talks. So, I put on my headphone and slept. Suddenly, my eyes opened and found that we had just missed the right turn to the Airport. I pointed this to the driver and he did a bit of circus before we were back on track. I reached the Airport at 7PM. The gates were jam-packed. 1 officer was trying to manage the crowd. He would set order on one gate by forming the people in a queue. Then he would go to another gate and the former gate would be back to chaos once again. Seeing this, I called a porter to help me get into the terminus. First, he put my luggage on a trolley and tried to get through. By this time, the officer was back to our gate. So, the porter went right to the end of the queue and waited. I took out a cigarette and was watching the fun. Soon, the officer went to another gate and the porter was back in the front without the trolley dragging my suitcase. With a little struggle, he got through the gate. I tagged along with some Japanese traveller and was also inside the terminus. I checked in. I requested the Emirates counter officer to put my luggage on priority. He told me that my status was Blue and this was not possible. However, after saying this, he put the Priority Tag on my suitcase and bag. I thanked him and proceeded to the Immigration Counter. I immigrated without hassles. At the security checkpoint, I took off everything on my body except my clothes and my shoes. I went through smoothly. However, before me there was another Indian person (Let us call him X). When X went through the metal detector, it beeped. So, the officer sent him out. X removed his belt and watch and tried once again. Again the machine beeped. So, the officer put X’s luggage aside and sent him out to wait outside the queue. After me another person another Indian (Let us call him B) also went through the metal detector. While I was putting on my belt, I found that B was frantically looking for his passport. He along with the officers was looking for it. Suddenly, the officer decided to check with X. They found the passport of B with X. X had picked up the wrong passport by mistake while being sent out. B hit X a few blows and abused him in abundance. The officer took X’s luggage and gave it back to him and told him something. I am not sure whether X could make it to his flight. I saw a live demonstration of Murphy’s law, “When something has to go wrong, it will go wrong”.
I headed for the smoking room. I saw a message from Mr. Nowaf checking whether I had completed the appraisal. I told him that I had not. So, Mr Nowaf sent instructions for completing the same. I then remembered that I had actually completed the process and informed him. Then I saw a message from Suman trying to reach me. I gave him my location and after a few messages were exchanged, we met. It was almost time for the flight and we walked to gate 13. I told Suman to meet up in Dubai and we could have a beer. Inside the flight, I put my iPhone and iPad in Airplane Mode. Seated next to me was CEO of an advertisement firm. This person kept talking on his phone till the flight was airborne. He told me that he was an Egyptian and did business with Mobily. We had a wonderful conversation till the dinner was completed and then he was back on his phone as we started descending.
On descending in Dubai, the person sitting across the aisle starting conversing with me. On deplaning, he requested that I take him to the Business Class Lounge. I escorted him there. He introduced himself as Mr. Sreedharan. He told me that he was working in Riyadh for the last 18 years and was in the recruitment business. I took a beer and started talking to him. He told me that he was from Trichur. After finishing my beer, I realized that I could no meet Suman as his flight to Chennai was at 2:45 AM. So, the promise for the beer would have to wait for another occasion. I have not sent him an apology mail to Suman as I had promised not to write to him during his vacation. After the beer, I told Mr. Sreedharan to excuse me as I had some shopping to complete. I promised that I would finish the same and come back to the lounge and meet him. I finished my shopping and on coming back I found Mr. Sreedharan waiting at the gate for me. I shook hands and with promise of meeting in Riyadh, we took leave. I still had another 1 hour for my flight. So, I went back to the Smoking Area and smoked a few cigarettes and had a banana.
I boarded my flight to Bangalore on time. With 5 minutes to take off, the Captain announced that we would be on ground for another 30 minutes as weather in Bangalore was not conducive for landing. I put on my headphone and started listening to some new music I had downloaded. I realized that the albums had not fully downloaded. So, I disabled the Airplane mode in my iPhone. The downloading started. I was relaxed as in UAE local charges apply for Mobily SIMs. After 1 hour our flight took off. I put my iPhone back on Airplane mode. With my headphone on, I slept. I got up in the morning, had my breakfast and soon the plane was landing. I got out of the Airport without any incidence. The pick up was waiting me for. He took my trolley and we proceeded to the car parking. While the driver went to get the Mercedes, I contacted Navas to enable my phone, as I was unable to enable roaming through any of the Operators. After some time, I was enabled on Vodafone. After a few messages, I received a message stating that I had crossed 50% of my SR 6000 credit limit. I was surprised. So, I called Venkojee to check my account. Venkojee informed me that I had consumed SR 3500 on 26Dec12. Now, I was shocked. My first thought was whether I was charged on roaming rates in UAE. If this were the case, then we would have major billing issues in Dec12. I called Mr. Nowaf to tell him of the same. Venkojee soon informed that I was charged for roaming in Emirates Airborne services and not in UAE. So, the mystery was solved. The billing program was working well and I had consumed SR 3500 in 1 hour.
filedesc 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Cabriolet. One of 49 built at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in Greenwich, CT on June 4, 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)