Eitan messed up the itinerary a little bit and allotted one unnecessary extra day in Aurangabad, the city that served as our base to visit the Ajanta and Ellora caves. We decided to take a more relaxed day and not to too much sightseeing.
The first stop of the day was the Bibi Ka Maqbar, no! that is not the Taj Mahal!!
It was built by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb, in 1678 in memory of his mother, Dilras Banu Begum.. It bears a striking resemblance to the famous Taj Mahal, the mausoleum of his grandmother, Mumtaz Mahal.
This building was beautiful but nothing close to the Taj Mahal. In this one you can actually see the real tomb where people throw money like if it’s some kind of magical fountain.
The grounds where mostly empty and only local tourism reach this monument. People made a line to take photos with us, I had to take a photo of this guy’s cellphone cover.
After this we just spend time at the mall which was packed with locals. Some stores have a weird resemblance to Sarah’s name in Spanish.
Eitan was happy because he finally bought some new shirts, his current shirts have changed in color from dirt and sweat. We also got Pizza Hut at the food court which consisted of 4 pizza places and Indian food and then came back to the room to drink a bottle of wine while we watched the movie “how to be single” which is great. We really enjoyed an evening of not doing the blog and just relaxing as we like to do at home.
We headed back to the airport to fly to our vacation inside the big trip, our next stop was the amazing Goa in the south of India, where no sightseeing is possible and we will be only relaxing at the beach. We arrived to the airport very early so waited in the McDonalds across the street and both got chicken burgers since beef burgers don’t exist here. The burgers were not that good so now we understand why we haven’t seen that many McDonalds in India, it kinda sucks!
Now one of those long rants about Indian procedures, this time the airport. If you did not enjoy my previous Postal Service rant, please skip this one.
Airports here in India are a pain in the ass. If you think the TSA in the states are bad, then you need to travel here… Indian airport security people are on a huge ass power-trip, they have the intelligence of a newborn chicken, the smile of a polar bear in the Sahara desert and the attitude of a castrated Nazi SS general in WWII.
Let me explain what it means to fly DOMESTIC here:
First you need to get to the airport, usually airports are clean and modern (the opposite of the rest of India), but the drop off points are chaotic with everybody screaming at each other and everybody parking wherever they want. In order to get inside the airport you need to provide your passport and boarding pass to security guard at the entrance (documents check #1), he checks it, sees it again, compares it, takes a look at it again (you know where this is going if you have been following previous blog posts). After he lets you in, you walk about 15 feet (I’m not even exaggerating in this one) and there is another security dude that requires the same documents to check (documents check #2). There is NOWHERE you could go between the first and second checkpoint, but they still manage to position these 2 guards 15 ft of each other. Stupid? wait for it….
After the second security check, you need to pass your bags though and x ray machine, not before giving your boarding pass to the machine guy (documents check #3). After they detect things like lighters (always good to keep one in your first aid kid) who apparently are not allowed in CHECKED bags (not even TSA) they take them from you and they log it in their stupid little book by hand. They again need your documents to log in that info as they require your name, flight #, etc… to write down that they removed a lighter from you (document check #4), which takes 10 minutes for them to write this down by the way. The bags will now have acquired a very sticky, almost impossible to remove sticker that they will put around your bag’s lock. Stupid? wait for it….
Then you need to do check in at the airline counter (documents check #5), because I paid my flights with a foreign card they needed to see the physical card, not an unusual request but we booked the flight many months ago and they don’t tell you which card it was (they just do that stupid head nod that we don’t know what it means), so there we were showing one by one like a kindergarten kid learning the numbers until we hit a match! (this credit card thing only happened once, which is bizarre as with all the other flights with the same airline it was not required). Stupid? wait for it…
Yeey, you have a boarding pass and now you want to go to your gate right? Oooh no, here you need to wait outside until they decide you can go airside. After they let you go, there is a security guard checking your documents (document check #5), after you have the normal x-ray machines with the typical take off your jacket, computer, etc.. These guys require ALL electronics to be outside the bag, not only the laptop. I said already but these guys need to understand how x-ray machines work, if I have to completely empty my bag, its unnecessary to still send it though x—rays. If they detect something they don’t like in the bag they kidnap it and put it in a table in the middle of the security area where you basically have to beg to one of those lazy a-holes to give it to you, this takes around 20 minutes of everyone shouting and trying to get their bags. The guy after the metal detector arch will scan your body with another little metal detector even tough the alarm didn’t go off while you walked through the big detector; He will touch you, touch you again, scan you again, touch you again, scan you again just in case the last 4 times the metal detector did not pick up the secret gun you have deep inside your…. and will check and stamp your boarding pass (documents check #6). All the carry on bags will now have acquired a little tag with a dated stamp that said they are safe bags (isn’t this stupid? I mean, if they have something illegal or dangerous they don’t let those bags through anyways, so why the stupid little tags?).
Now it’s time to board, they SCAN your boarding pass and passport at the gate (document check #7), literally 5 feet later (not even kidding) there is another guy that checks your boarding pass (document check #8), for real, if they scan your boarding pass at the gate, the computer will tell them if you are part of the flight or not, there is absolutely no need to someone manually checking again if you are in the right flight. Once you walk to the end of the sky bridge and before the airplane’s gate, there is another document check (document check #9), again there is absolutely nowhere you could have gone between these 3 “security” checks. When you board the plane the flight attendant will again ask for your boarding pass (documents #10), I understand in wide body airplanes (2 aisles) that they will ask for your boarding pass to guide you to your seat, but I think this is even standard procedure in any airline so I forgive them this one.
So that’s it! After 10 security checks, in which 6 were totally unnecessary you are now sitting in the plane. The flight attendant came to me to say I cannot have my bag under the seat, why? I asked, I was given no reason, just that I can’t (this is the bag I’ve been traveling forever and I ALWAYS have it under the seat without problem).
This was a 1 hour flight and surprisingly they serve food (actually really good food), the catch? You have 5 minutes to eat it. Yup, by the time you are taking the first bite, they already came asking if you were done. to pick up the tray. Anyways, the whole experience is just unbelievable, you can see all the western tourists annoyed and miserable while traveling here. It baffles me that nobody has restructured this process to make it more efficient, but again, this is India.
We finally got to Mumbai and again the taxi was an easy ride to our close hotel. We decided to change hotels last minute as the booked hotel was not answering the phone for the last 3 days (we wanted to ask about airport pick up) so we booked a little nicer one just for the night and to guarantee that somebody will be at the reception at our time of arrival (midnight).
India, India, India… We just stopped enjoying this place by now. We urgently need to go out of here….
Bonus Pic Of The Day: Can somebody please let Air India know how cheap window sun shields are? They use used newspaper like freaking Delhi taxi drivers. Imagine the maintenance they give to this planes if they go cheap in things like this…. scary!