Wednesday, August 02, 2006

PUNE, INDIA 05Apr2006

FIRST ~ KL International Airport 040406

Early April, and as India is getting hot and dry before the onset of the monsoon, I have to make a quick trip to Pune and Ahmedabad. Traveling with Singapore Airlines, I have to go via Singapore Changi, naturally, and this is our shuttle to SIN, a Boeing 777-200.

A just-arrived KLM Boeing 747-400 called 'City of Paramaribo', non-stop from Amsterdam.

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En Route 040406

Flight progress, on another Singapore Boeing 777-200 flight to Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat state in India.

Right above Nicobar Islands, an Indian territory.

And then on to Ahmedabad, on the far side of India.

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Breakfast in the Sky 050406

Overnighting in Ahmedabad, I find myself on an early morning flight to Mumbai, where I catch another plane for the short hop to Pune. All on late-model Boeing 737s belonging to Jet Airways, a decent Indian private airline, despite the plain vanilla name.

Only vegetarian brekky on-board the Ahmedabad-Mumbai flight, catering done by a Singapore Airlines joint-venture. A bit bland for me, but hey, a hungry man should not fuss, especially early in the morning.

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Mumbai Transit 050406

Mumbai domestic terminal is being refurbished and hence the apron is a tad chaotic, reminding me of a bus station. Passengers and workers and vehicles move haphazardly between planes.

Alliance Air, another local private airline, with ancient 737-200 planes.

Kingfisher Airlines, owned by the people brewing the famous Kingfisher Beer, largest beer-maker in India, 2nd largest in the world. Deep pocket, so they can afford brand new planes. Hope no free grog for the pilots!

SpiceJet, yet another new private airline. Thanks to liberalisation, the Indian skies are full of colourful planes.

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Pune Airport 050406

A very hot day greets me as I step out of the airport terminal. Yup, that's only 42C, very manageable.

Even my shadow hurts in the unforgiving heat of the Sun.

But where in India is Pune? It's the black dot just southeast of Mumbai on this MAP.

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Downtown Pune 050406

Pune at last. Just 170km southeast of Mumbai, it aspires to be the 'next Bangalore' as an IT hub.

Very hot, dry and dusty, but traffic looks more orderly than in most Indian towns and cities.

Chaos still reigns, sort of ordered chaos ...

... while Mr Shah Rukh Khan and a rival look on.

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The Lunch 050406

Lunch is another vegetarian affair. Second meal for the day and I still have to do veg. Sure it looks nice and pretty, but me carnivore! But hey, a starving guest should not fuss, especially in a hot 40C+ afternoon.

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Ninjas on the Road 050406

Hot and dusty and smokey, so what better than to cover your whole head except for the eyes. I think these are Muslims girls who have improvised their head coverings. Then there sure are a lot of Muslim lady-bikers around.

Bike-less ones are also everywhere.

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The Billboards 050406

Indians seem to be obsessed with huge billboards, not puny ones like we see elsewhere. I see these gigantic billboards virtually everywhere in India.

This huge display asserts Pune as an IT force to be reckoned with. That Cybage is a CMMI Level 5 company (whatever that is, but it sure sounds impressive), no kiddin'.

And of course, the imposing omnipresent Mr Shah Rukh Khan, hawking everything from banks to cellphones to cars.

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Back to Ahmedabad 050406

Dusk, and I'm back on Jet Airways 737-700 to Ahmedabad, again via Mumbai. This time I'm having a chicken dinner. Hooray! What a tiring day it has been, the vegies did not help.

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FINAL ~ The Juice 050406

Fly Jet Airways, and you are fed with this drink non-stop. When you board the plane, they give you one, or two. During meals, they give you another one. Before landing, they offer you one, or two.

The weather being hot and dry, I guess lime juice is the best. It re-vitalises your body and gives you the right stuff to stay fresh.

Ingredients all there. It tastes pretty good. Ahhhh ... the Elixir of Life for hot Indian summers, literally.

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