Thursday, October 10, 2002

Back to America.

Trip Day 12
Wedneday, 10/8, 4:15 am Chennai Time

Sittin at the airport, waitin on the bus, plane. Let me catch up. Last we heard, our hero was bowling on Monday night. Well, being beaten at bowling. Okay, soundly whupped upon at bowling. Did not even break 100.

I sleep like a rock. But notice something Tuesday morning. My sweat smells like Indian Sweat! Seriously, I smell like some of my engineers after a long day. I must be fully permeated with good food. Yippee! So I take a shower and wash it off. Cause I am ripe.

Down to the “Match Point” for my last breakfast at the Taj. Four chicken sausages, oh, I am going to miss the chicken sausages, Idli appam, paratas (like naan bread, but somehow magically circular layers of wavy flatbread that lift off to make spoons) bacon, Filter Coffee, and, oh yeah, WATERMELON JUICE! I have 3 glasses, I am a piglet. It is scrumptious. When I finish up, the management crew asks me how breakfast was, and I tell them. Wonderful, it is my last morning, I fly out early Wednesday, and will not be able to dine at Match Point till my next trip. They would like me to leave feedback. Everyone in India wants feedback. I write a most glowing letter of recommendation, then I have photos taken with the staff. This crew could turn a Denny’s in San Jose into a 5 star, their level of attention is amazing.

Back to the room, pack as best I can, the Mani takes me to work. Well, we actually try to go to Hero Honda to snap a picture of one of the scooters with “outriggers” Guess what? It is an aftermarket add-on! I cannot find one anywhere. I have PROMISED my pal Tiffany I would try, but no such luck.

Into the office, and I have meetings, a day FULL of meetings. I meet with teams I have only worked with over the phone. I meet with teams in transition. I meet with teams that just want to see the cowboy. It is very productive, probably my most productive day yet. I get a lot of information and am able to relay it to my co-horts in management. It is well received, and I think some will be used to make valuable changes for advancement, and really, that’s all I can say without breaking many confidences.

For lunch, my pal Kandan takes me to the Copper Chimney, a rather ritzy joint with some wonderful food. We notice he has a different level of service than I do. Well, he also has a better tan, better hair, and is younger, So I should get some better service! J ha!

We go back to the office, for a few more rounds of meetings. My attempts at humor are totally bypassed. The information conveyed seems to stand, however, and I will start a write up report later today.

Finish, and Mani takes me back to hotel via 2 motorcycle shops. They are asking me about MY bikes, so I tell them, 996cc Honda, bigger Harley. They like it. YAY!

To the Taj, shower, change, and out to Aparna’s to meet her kiddoes and go for dinner. I dismiss Mani, and he will meet me at the hotel at 5am. There is a ‘general strike’ on Wednesday, so it will be best if Mani can be home early. No problem. Another early morning.

Her daughter meets me at the gate and is absolutely charming. I am so glad I am not a 9 year old Indian fella, cause I would be instantly smitten. Her son is quiet, thoughtful, and seems very much too serious and studious. OH! He is studying me, and sizing me up as a threat to him & mum. No Problems young man, your mom is a close and dear friend, but we are not headed that way.

We stop by a confectioners shop to pickup some treats for the cricket team back in San Jose. These guys might be happy about it, I hope. We then retire to dinner. At Pizza Hut. Yes, Pizza hut. For some stuffed crust pepperoni pizza. I have to travel around the world, and ONLY then do I first try Stuffed Crust pizza. Life is strange. Aparna’s daughter finds some bendy straws, and is quite pleased with herself. I ask her for another, and do the “fold the end, tuck it in” and join 2 straws, so I can sit at the table and not have to lean. I have a LONG straw. She is enthralled, the son instantly duplicates and one-ups with 3 straws. Brilliantly clever! They will be able to show off to all their pals.

After pizza, we go for ice cream, yumminess, I order vanilla, yet it is yellow. I am not sure why, but tastes like vanilla, and eats like vanilla. Yummarama.

We drop her kids off and head back to the Taj. Rum and cokes at the bar, the aussies are not singing, we chat about program management, and how it can be a challenge, rewarding, or even. Great chat, I hope she will come visit San Jose so I can repay all the favors and tour guides and shopping, and she’s off.

I head up to the room, sleep briefly, shower, pack, and off to the airport. This is the last ride with Mani. Car # 6862 will not be carrying me to work anymore this time. But next time, he IS mine! A calm driver with a good temper, very good combo.

At the airport I tip him, WAY overtip, but it is fine, he has done well, he has taken me above and beyond. A young beggar grabs me to herd me through the line, to the REAL entrance. Apparently everyone crowds in to see arrivals, and if you do not know where the departures gate is, you may foolishly stand in the wrong line. Young boy, entrapanuer, leads me zig zag through the crowd and to the departures gate, 5 feet from where I got out of the cab! Knowledge IS power, but he helped, 10 rupee.

Cycle through security check, baggage check, check in check, then wait for the plane. I am reading a book, I am waiting, I get on the plane to London, 10 hours flight time, and JACKPOT! Empty row! How do I manage? Maybe it is the powers that be making up for the flights to Bangalore?

British Airways pilot is funny, we’ll just smack out brekkies, then put on the full production for dinner, please be patient.

Patient? Hell bubba, I have 3 seats for 10 hours, I am solid!

More after London.

….more, cause it is after London.

Okay, I feel like I am burning off time I would probably need to be spending in hell, by flying straight through. I am on my 15th hour, and see about 10 more hours. Yeah, not right, I know, next time I should schedule a room in Singapore.

BUT, I am golden. I am G-Money as they say. GEEE Money BABY!

I get off the plane in London, pressing through a crowd of angry Indians. Get off the plane, and tramp out the flight ramp, needing to pee very badly. Finding a bathroom in Heathrow is not exactly easy as it should be, cause I am also worried about making my connection.

Which was delayed.

So I ride the tram from one gate to the next terminal, (BTW, this is where they are losing my luggage and stomping on the parts they did not lose. Swapping from Brit-Air to American? Yeah, I am getting the shaft. High and hard, but will know for sure in Chicago.

Get to Terminal 3, and see the delay, okay, no problems. I needed a break, I find a magazine shop, spend 7 pounds on my credit card for Bike magazine and November British Maxim, which is 8 million times cooler than US version. Brits know how to write humor.

Find the bathroom I need, Ewww. Nasty. That is all I have to describe this shoddy affair. The hopper in Chennai was 8 times cleaner. Do business, and checkin to gate. Their security is a bit stricter, they really rummage the poor circus bag, fortunately, they do NOT choose to rummage me! Sit & wait, board the plane, and find my seat. 25 J is NOT the very back of the plane.

I am waiting, and sure enough a lady sits beside me, she could be a pal of my mom’s, but she is dressed too sedately, and reading Martha Stewart Magazine. Then she puts her hand on my THIGH and tells me she is looking forward to an enjoyable flight. I’m like, EWWW! Git that paw away from my equipment lady, I hardly know ya.

Apparently she spent the last flight drinking.

Then they close the cabin doors. And tell us we can move at will, the flight is less than 25% full. SPROING! And I am out of the clutches of Mrs. Robinson. It is weird, the flight is EMPTY. As in, why are ya’ll flying? There are no passengers, can we all move up to first class?

So, for the NEXT 10 hours of my journey, 2 large seats, lots leg room, all to my self. Yeah, sideways and Mexican, if the old gal bothers me again, I will explain all the intricacies of a “Dirty Sanchez” and be left alone for sure. But the flight will rule, I have space. Maybe as a cushion to my total 24+hour travel, I will have space to stretch. YAY TEAM!

In Chicago I will have to clear customs, I filled out the form very generously, and do not think I will have any issues. More as it happens. Tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever, I will get to take a shower in MY shower, and sleep in MY bed. That is good. I will miss the chicken sausages for breakfast at the Taj, but I will make up for it with kisses from my sweetie!

The battery on the laptop is fading, I do not think I will be able to type my work report, but will try later. Maybe if I have time in Chicago I can plug in and recharge.

>>>> Chicago Day from Hell

7:30pm Wednesday Chicago Time : 6:00AM Thursday Chennai Time

I just want to be home.

We landed in Chicago, deplaned in about 3 minutes, the plane was extremely empty. Chicago O’Hare is a maze of tunnels, escalators and trams. We get off the plane, down a hall, down an escalator, into another hall, into an arrival area, and que for Immigration. I could not tell if my Immigration clerk was male or female, and was named Pat. You do not want to laugh at someone who has the power to deny you entry to a country.

I woke up to start this morning at 4:00am, and got in the car with Mani around 5:00am, according to my brain’s spinning calculations, and the cheap watch on my arm, I have been in transit for 25 hours. And I still need to fly to San Jose. I am tired, I smell like a goat, and my whole body feels “greasy”

After immigration, we go to baggage claim, and my bags arrive relatively unscathed. I am impressed! Of course I have not opened them. On my customs form I declared $300 worth of stuff, hoping they would not care to look, and would overlook the Indian sweets I have brought back for the cricket team. Pick the bags, walk to the customs line, which is forming big, and a young guard looks at my cowboy hat, asks “you from Texas”? to which he gets a BIG smile and “Heck pecker yeah, wherabouts you from?” He replies “Tyler” and hears back “heck, I am from Longview” and he waves me through. They appear to be checking every other passengers luggage, and I get to SHINE THE LINE! YAY!

Down another hall, where I re-check my luggage, which has one more opportunity to explode on impact, hopefully not. Yet another hall, and escalator, and into a train station. I am stuck on the tram behind a guy sporting a very hideous “Skullet” The mullet for the balding. Do I look this bad? I ask a young lady next to me, she laughs and says “no way, he looks slimy, you look tired” YAY! I am not a goober. Yet.

Off the train, another escalator, another hall, another escalator, another hallway, and finally, I see the entrance for gate L. Security in the states is a joke. The asian man operating the machines could not explain to me that he wanted to know if I had COINS in my bag. I kept hearing “you gah gon in you ba?” And thinking, “Wouldn’t a gun show up on the X-Ray?” While the other guy is harassing me about my boots and hat.

They must be trained, one question at a time, one person speaking at a time. I remember a line form Keith’s presentation and I use it. Hear that boss? It works!

I said “Excuse me sir, I cannot understand what you are saying, could you please rephrase the question? What item are you asking is in my bag”

To which he said “gon! You know, gon gon you know gon you got gon!?”

Well, I did not know. I have been traveling for 25 hours, I am tired, some guy is pulling my belt buckle, I am thinking “Madras was MUCH better, and, according to Louise, they feel you up there”

“I am sorry sir, I do not understand, I am hearing G-U-N, which I do not have, please help me understand, could you point at the object?”

And a guy behind me gets it before I do. “Coins!” and we giggle.

“You are asking me if I have COINS in my bag, yessir, I do”

and they pass me through the checkpoint.


The announcer just askes a “Mr. Jack Mehoff” to meet his party at security gate H. This has to be a joke.

Get to gate, find plug, Charge Laptop. Time to board, more later.

On the plane, passing over Omaha, Nebraska, I am tired. VERY tired. I am told we will pass over Fort Collins, Colorado, that’s where my pal Flash lives, I would try to moon him, but I do not think he will see it.

This flight is not empty, but not full, They did switch one guy out of my row, so the middle seat is empty, yay.

I am simply wore out. Next Stop San Jose, Luggage, Cab, Home, Kisses, Shower.


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