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27 February 2015

Murphy strikes back.....

Murphy's law states that 'If anything can go wrong, it will'. Another version of the same law is that the bread will always fall with the buttered side down'.
On my visit to Mexico, Murphy was a constant companion. Here are a few instances where Murphy announced his presence.
One the very first day of my visit to Mexico, I had the feeling that Murphy has decided to accompany me on my journey. I had planned my trip with razor sharp precision and efficiency. Reach Paris at 8.30 AM, change terminal and leave for Mexico city at 10.30 AM, reach Mexico City at 4.05 PM and board the 7.05 flight to Durango, my final destination. This will give me just about time to take a quick look at the Aeropuerto de Ciudad de Mexico.
In the beginning, it seemed as if everything was going well. The Air France flight started on time from Bangalore and reached Paris at about 8.00 AM. I felt contented and happy to note that I had enough time to transfer to another terminal and board the next flight at 10.30 AM.
That is where Murphy announced his presence for the first time. A look at the departure schedule told me that my flight to Mexico was late by four hours.
Leaving my picture perfect precision in tatters...
What to do now?
Fortunately Air France was very helpful. They gave me a seat in another Air France Flight which was leaving for Mexico City at 1.30 PM. The gate was F-38.
Now I had enough time at Paris. I wandered around the airport and by about 10.00 AM reached gate F-38.
Just to confirm the gate, I gave my boarding pass to the lady at the counter. She checked the computer and told me that the departure gate was F-65 and not F-38 as mentioned in the boarding pass.
Gate 65 is about a kilometer (at least it felt that long a distance) from 38. I trudged across to 65.
The lady at gate 65 checked and informed me that 65 was the gate for my original flight and my changed flight was actually leaving from gate 38 !!
Can you beat that?
I trudged back to gate 38 angry, tired and frustrated.
That turned out to be the correct gate by the way...
End of Murphy Instance #1
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Instance #2: The 'Flight Confusion at Mexico'
The second time Murphy announced his presence was when I reached Mexico City Airport.
The Air France flight landed at terminal 1 of the airport at about 6.10. Having completed my Visa 
process quickly, I reached the luggage collection point at 6.15. That is the normal time taken for 
luggage to arrive at the belt. But on this day, the luggage had not even been unloaded when I reached 
the belt.
I collected my luggage at 6.35 PM
There was no way I was going to be able to board my connecting flight to Durango which was to leave at 7.05 PM. So I again approached the Air France counter at Mexico city Terminal 1 for help.
The lady at the counter was very helpful. She listened to my broken Spanish patiently, quickly figured out my predicament and gave me a ticket for the Aero Mexico flight to Durango which was to leave at 9.45 PM. 
Wow, these guys are good, I thought.
Since the flight to Durango was leaving from Terminal 2, I took my luggage and trundled across to the Terminal train station to board the Terminals connector. You do not get a trolley in Mexico City 
Airport. The entire process is unionized and you can only hire trolleys from Union Members.
Since I did not have Mexican Peso in hand and since I was a bith stressed out and finally since I 
didn't know the language...
I lugged my luggage across the length and breadth of the MC airport. It felt 100 Kg!!
At T2, I went to the Aero Mexico Counter. The queue was long and it took me about 30 minutes to reach the counter. 
At the counter, I was faced with a fresh, young, inexperienced lady. 
She took ages to respond. After about 30 minutes, and after talking, calling and going to talk to 10 different people, she came and told me that:
1) Air France has not put the seal in my ticket
2) Air France has not reserved my ticket
3) So she can't give me the boarding pass. 
What should I do?
I have to go back to Air France counter in T1 and get the seal and reservation.
I had about 80000 flying miles with Air France and was a Silver Card member. To be treated like this by inefficiency in an alien city....
I was furious.
I rushed back to the train station, went back to Air France counter in T1.
Murphy was lenient this time around. The same lady who initially gave me the ticket was still at the counter. 
I explained my predicament and asked her to give me the reservation and a new seal on the ticket. 
She showed me the original seal. She told me that she can't give me a new seal. 
What about the reservation? She told me that it is already reserved and noted down the reservation code on my ticket.
My long walk back to T1 had not changed any situation. Neither did I have a new seal, nor did I have a new reservation. Nothing. Nada, Zilch....
Now it was about 9.00 PM. I was frantic. It is one thing to miss your original flight, but totally a different thing to miss the last flight to your destination.
I rushed back to T2, to the Aero Mexico Counter again.
This time I approached a guy. He also took his own time (may be it was my long name) and by about 9.20 PM gave me the boarding pass for the 9.45 flight.
And asked me to rush...
The nerve !!. Aero Mexico had taken almost 90 minutes at the counter to give me the boarding pass and now they were asking ME to rush.
Perhaps it is better if they followed their own counsel.
I rushed.
After a very thorough cabin baggage checking, I reached the departure gate at 9.35 PM and boarded the flight.
I reached Durango at 11.20 PM.
End of Instance #2
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Instance #3: The Hotel
I came out of Durango Airport at 11.45 PM. by the time my luggage arrived, it was almost midnight. Since this was the last flight of the day, they were preparing to close the airport for the day. I took the last taxi to Holiday Inn where I had my reservation. 
We reached Holiday Inn at around 12.45 AM. I came out of the taxi, took my luggage out and ....
The manager came running. 
'Are you Mr.Vaid.....Krish....'? He stuttered. 
To an inexperienced ear, it would have sounded like babble. However, having experienced my name being butchered at various places in Latin America, I realized that he was trying to pronounce my name. 
'Yes, that is me', I intervened to end his misery
'Sorry sir, since you did not arrive on time, we cancelled your reservation. We are sold out today and I will put you up in our sister hotel'.
He told the driver to take me to another hotel.
Here I was, in an alien city, sitting in a Taxi with an unknown driver (for all I knew, he could have been a drug dealer, after all, I was in Mexico) driving to deserted city streets, on my way to 'I didn't know where'.
Murphy couldn't have been more hardworking.
Finally I reached the hotel. All safe and sound...
End of Instance #3
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Instance #4: The lift
I was late for the office meeting and was in a hurry. I was impatiently waiting for the lift.
I live in the 4th floor of the hotel. I pressed the 'Down' button and waited.
The lift started from the basement. 
It stopped at Ground floor on its way up. Some people got in.
Next stop was the lobby. Lift stopped and a few people got out for breakfast. A few people who had finished the breakfast got in.
The lift stopped at first floor and guys who got in at basement exited.
Lift stopped at floor 2.. A guy who had finished Breakfast got out.
At floor 3, a few got out and a lady entered.
The lift stopped at my floor.
'4th Floor?', exclaimed the lady, 'I had pressed the down button to go to ground floor'.
I did't care. As far as I was concerned she could go to.......
An attendant got in at 4th floor along with me.
He pressed '2' button, changed his mind and pressed '1' button.
On the way down, the lift stopped at '3' because the lady had pressed the 'Down' button in that floor. That is how lift works.
It stopped at '2' because the attendant had pressed the button by mistake.
It stopped at '1'  and the attendant got out.
It stopped at lobby and some people who had finished breakfast got in. 
Finally it stopped at ground floor for me to get out.
The whole process took about 7-8 minutes. I would have been better taking the stairs.
Needless to say I was late for the meeting.
End of Instance #4
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Instance #5: The comb
During my school days, my teacher taught us that a man should always carry the following three things.
1) Money
2) Comb
3) Hand Towel
I always carry a comb in my pocket. I feel stressed out and flip out if I don't have a comb in my pocket.
I have 'Comb Withdrawal Symptom'
Since I have this 'Comb Fetish', I always ensure to pack an extra comb when I travel. For safety and comfort.
Just in case.
I had packed an extra comb for my trip to Mexico as well. I used to keep one in my pocket and one in the 'check in' luggage.
Due to all the back and forth mentioned in incident 1, I lost my comb somewhere between Bangalore and Durango. No problem, I had a spare one any way.
Within two days of taking out the spare comb I lost it.
I was 'Combless in Durango' as it were.
Buying a comb in an alien country is not that easy, especially if they speak a different language than you. First you have to cross the language barrier. After a series of Semi English, Semi Spanish and Semi Hand signals, I found that a comb is called 'Peine' in Spanish.
'Donde puedo comprar un peine'? I asked a passerby (Where can I buy a comb)
'Trate Sanbornes, por favor' (Please try Sanbornes)
'Quiero un peine', I told the lady at Sanbornes
'Largo y Pequineo?' (big or small?) she asked
'Pequineo' I replied. I wanted a small comb that can fit in my pockets.
She brought a comb packed in a guilded cage.
'Cuanto?' (How much?) I asked
'165 Pesos' (15 USD)', she replied.
I couldn't believe my ears. There has to be some mistake. So I took out a 200 Peso note and asked her if I give that how much she will give me back.
'35 Pesos', told the lady
I wanted to ask if the comb was made of Gold or something. But lack of fluency in Spanish and the fear of being oversmart in an alien country prevented me from freely expressing my emotions.
'Es muy caro por un piene pequino, no?' I asked sweetly (Isn't it too costly for a small comb?)
'Es material muy suave', she replied (the material is very soft)
Who cares for a soft comb costing your full day's pay? I quickly got out of Sanbornes
You will be surprised to know the number of people in a city who do not know the location of a shop where one can buy comb at a reasonable price.
Everyone knew Sanbornes. No one knew any other shop.
Finally I found a shop 'Allison's' where I could buy a small comb for 5 pesos. I could have got around 5-6 combs in India for the same amount. This was no time for penny pinching. I had to have my small comb. I bought one.
A week later, I lost my new comb as well. Since it was raining heavily and Allison's was very far, I went to the nearby Walmart and purchased a new comb for 18 Pesos. I still have it.
In the last three years in India, I have never lost a single comb and here in Mexico, in a span of about three weeks I have lost three combs. Now I have decided to carry two spare combs for every trip.
If this is not Murphy, please tell me what it is....
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Instance #6: Durante Viaje de Vuelta (During Return Journey)
I ldft Durango today morning at 6.45 and reached Mexico City airport at 8.20. The flight landed at Terminal 2.
While coming to Mexico, my Air France flight had landed in T1. So I confidentally proceeded there. If you remember my luggage was heavy. I had done some solid packing. The idea was to check in my suitcase and take a leisurely stroll around T1. I had around five hours to kill.
As I envisioned it, I will got to the Air France counter, say 'Buenos Dias' to the pretty Air France lady, deposit my luggage, collect my boarding pass and walk around the airport.
All well thought out. This time I will beat Murphy.
When I reached the Air France Counter, no one was there. It was empty.
Now I did not know what to do. I thought that I was early and I will wiit. So I started walking around T1, pulling my luggage full of Stones !
As mentioned previously, no trolleys were available in T1.
I espied one Union Member with a trolley. I started chatting with him. I showed him my ticket. He checked it and told me that my flight is an Aero Mexico Flight and that it was to depart from T2.
Now I knew the drill. I lugged my luggage, got in the Terminal Connector and reached T2.
It was Deja Vu all over again.
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That is it. As you can see Murphy was my constant companion thru the journey. Since Murphy was with me, he would not have attacked others and their tasks would have completed without any complication.
For that others have to thank me. For providing constant companionship to Murphy during those days. .

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