At the Heathrow Airport departure gate, a complimentary newspaper was available. The only option however was the Daily Mail. As the day ended in a y, there was a typically xenophobic headline for any foreign visitors to the country to enjoy. Although the terms fake news and alternative facts have been recently coined, the Daily Mail have been using this concept to further their agenda for years, so fair play to them for that!
A visa was required to visit India. This could be applied for online so it didn’t provide too much hassle. The other day I printed off a copy of what I thought was the visa. At check-in, the clerk asked to see the document, which I duly produced. Then at boarding, the visa was again requested. I showed the same piece of paper, only to be told that this was in fact the visa application rather than the visa acceptance confirmation, which I hadn’t printed. This held up the queue as I searched for the visa acceptance email. Luckily this wasn’t too difficult to find on my phone and they let me board. I was slightly worried about what would happen at the other end, especially if I found a jobsworth immigration officer. It was all fine in Delhi though and they were happy to accept the email from my phone. In hindsight it was always likely to have been OK as airlines tend to air on the side of caution about not letting people fly who may be denied entry to a country. From what I’ve heard they get fined quite heftily for allowing such travel.
The Air India plane was one of those huge Dreamliner aircraft. It was decked out in a rather garish shade of orange. Food consisted of an omelette for breakfast and some sort of chicken and potato combo later on. No curry option that I noticed. In terms of films, I watched Snowden and Sully. It was slightly surprising that they would screen a film about a plane crashing on a plane. That said I don’t think that any spoiler are being revealing by saying that everyone on board survived!
Indira Gandhi Airport seems like a nice modern airport. It proudly proclaims to be the best in the world in a particular category of airport size. During the past couple of months there have been all sorts of currency issues in India. From what I can gather in November it was announced that from the following day two of the largest denomination bank notes, the 500 and 1000 rupee, would be withdrawn from circulation. The theory behind this was that many of the holdings of these notes were as a result of tax evasion. With people having to now pay them into bank accounts, a huge volume of illicit money would now become accountable. That’s the best explanation that I’ve heard anyway. This created the huge short-term issue of a cash shortage. I had been trying to keep an eye on advice prior to travelling to India but much of the information seemed to be somewhat conflicting. Next to the airport baggage carousels were a few bureau de changes. To ensure that I at least had a bit of cash, I stood in a queue for 15 minutes to obtain some rupees. There was a sign advising of a weekly limit to exchanging rupees. This figure was 5,000 rupees, or roughly £60. The money exchange place took a photocopy of your passport and made you sign something before handing over the dosh. After all that rigmarole I then found a whole line of ATMs on the other side of security that would happily dispense cash. I later discovered that the cash situation has now greatly improved and it’s no longer particularly difficult to get currency in India.
At this point it was well past 2am so I sat in Costa Coffee, waiting for the metro to open at 5am. The next shops along were WH Smith and Vodafone. It was almost like being back in Heathrow.