Hyderabad – Amsterdam – Seattle

I am finally on my way. Of course, there are shadows over my journey. For one, I am not too happy to be leaving my family behind. Just the thought of spending a month without Sumi and Siddharth is enough to take away the sheen from the journey. Then there is the issue about the wrong date of birth on my visa. Will I be sent back from Seattle immigration?

I am writing this at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. A four-hour stopover has been converted to a seven-and-half hour stopover now. But I am getting ahead of the story.

Hyderabad airport must rank amongst other Indian airports as one of my least favorite airports. While I can understand the ban on smoking all over an airport, I cannot understand the Indian method of not leaving any zones where a smoker may indulge in his habit. Hyderabad airport is completely “non-smoking” and combine this with a three-hour check-in period, it is sheer torture.

Fortunately the flight took of on time and KLM is pleasantly a good airline to travel with. But why am I surprised? Am I not aware of just how wonderful the Dutch people are?

The food on-board was edible, though nothing special. On that front I still am to see anybody match up to Emirates, though Kingfisher does come close.

I was able to get a seat on row 8, an aisle seat at that. I agree with www.seatguru.com that this is a wonderful seat, especially if you have a night flight. Ample legroom allows you to stretch out and have a nice nap. There is however the little problem of this being the preferred row for people with babies. So I would not recommend it to anyone who is annoyed by crying babies. For me, it was a wonderful row since I was reminded of Siddharth so much.

If you want to be stranded, I cannot think of a better airport than Schipol to be stranded at. As the flight approached Schipol the onboard monitors showed my connecting flight as ready to takeoff in 45 minutes from my arrival. I was both thrilled and disappointed at the same time. Such a short turnaround time meant that I would not be able to pause for a smoke and another 10-hour flight stared me in the face.

Getting off the airplane I ran to the indicated gate, only to be told that it was the previous day’s flight and not today’s flight. Relieved, I found the nearest smoking zone and had my first smoke. Then I discovered that my flight was delayed by three hours and now it is three-and-half hours delayed.

The temperature at landing was 0 degrees C, and now it is snowing outside. My first glance at snow. White, fluffy, cottony looking drops falling continuously, only to melt on contact with anything. It took at least an hour for snow to collect in a layer over the things it was falling on. The weather outside looks amazing. I stand on this side of the glass and can only admire it.

As I wait, I have visited the Rijksmuseum at the airport. They have an exhibition of Dutch paintings depicting the Dutch maritime scenes.

Like I mentioned earlier, if you want to be stuck at an airport, I can’t think of one better than Schipol.


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