Friday, May 2, 2008

A Sweden Trip

Sweden (n): is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Its capital city is Stockholm. It is surrounded by Norway (west), Finland (northeast)........It never took part in any of the world wars. ..peace-loving...highly developed...

These were the scant pieces of information I had, before I began my journey ahead. Any way this issue seemed minor in front of the other issues which had just surfaced in my mind, which was itself in a perennial self-distracting trance. I had been assigned to the project as a subject-matter-expert(SME), the subject of which I knew almost nothing. Then boarding the flight(it had been more than ten years since I had boarded any flight and the previous ones were obviously as a minor) and all those issues mingled along with the official clearance issues. They were concomitantly staring at me like a draconian monster spewing forth fire.

The way I got into Sweden concludes in a single word called 'WoW', which forms a mottled imagery in my reminiscences. I got here all in one piece!yuppie!

The itinerary in a rough sketch looks somewhat like this:

28/03/2008-----1600 hrs
Quite surprisingly my mom and dad had come to drop me off at the airport, perhaps they knew of my nausea well before. It really bolstered my self-confidence. I was no where prepared with the luggage. And so we went to the nearest mall and bought a samsonite cabin baggage with a laptop case for my laptop bag does a real favor to hold the laptop only.[It sucked in 11k :(, International flights allow only one cabin baggage]. The universal truth is, mom always excels in packing. No matter how hard you try, mom will beat you.....And I was ready. I checked in at Kolkata domestic airport at 4:25pm along with my parents, who had to board the flight back home. The flight from Kolkata to New Delhi was in Jet Airways(Boeing 747-400). Food was delicious and the air hostesses pretty : Ah! food for thought. It was a pleasant trip all over, though a slight headache had germinated in my head. The boeing landed in the domestic terminal at 8.00pm. I had to take the bus to international terminal (around 15 kms ) from the domestic terminal. Then, I had to check with my passport and the only good thing I did was that I filled in the immigration form beforehand, special thanks to Pajji in the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines helpdesk.

28.03.2008-----2000 hrs
DEL--> AMS(Sounds Dutch)
Pajji told me KLM Royal dutch airliner(Boeing 747-400) was delayed by 6hrs. It would have the departure time at around 7.25 am(Mar 29) instead of 01:30 am on the same day. Then one of the charlatans associated with Airports Authority of India duped me for 200 bucks for the service which was never required. Then, I had to collect the boarding pass for Amsterdam(Holland) , do the immigration check. I made a through check in of my luggage to CPH(Copenhagen, Denmark).This business finished at 12:00 am. At 2:30 we were given snacks from KLM for the delay which was pretty hopeless in both taste and amount. We waited in the so-called lounge with hundreds of Indian Airforce Personnel waiting for their flight on an UN mission en-route to Congo. Then the Delhi KLM agents, they just mismanage so well that you would prefer domestic flights instead. After lots of hue and cry, I was finally on board. Flight was good, food better, and the air hostesses best. We were served with food and beverages(alcoholic/non-alcoholic) at regular intervals. The Boeing went above Kabul, Berlin, Warshaw then finally arrived at Amsterdam. I had a view of the mighty Himalayas running through Indo-Pak-Afgan borders, which were all covered with snow caps like some one had covered the peaks with marble lining, from 21 000 ft they appeared as majestic as I had read only in the geography text books. And finally, it reached Amsterdam after 7 hrs(11:30 Local time). I managed to get off the flight at 11:50 AM. The connecting flight to was at 12:35am. I didn't have a boarding pass. I had to collect it from KLM counter. So it was rush-hour for me.

29.03.2008------1130 hrs
Oh God! the Schipol Airport at AMS is so well-organised but too big for I had very little exposure to follow organized travel. I rushed to the terminal after checking in at AMS security cordon and they threw away the water with me(500ml -Aquafina) with my kind permission of course, the sole reason being its volume was more than 100 ml! Then I came to T2 the KLM terminal. I stood at a counter of eternal enquiry there, which propelled me to collect another ticket for counter(like in icici banks). I faced racism for the first time in my life. After a while, I got my boarding pass for CPH. It was already 12:10 am then. Within 10 minutes, I had to board the (Focker-40 passenger ) and fortunately after an hour I reached CPH.

CPH--> Malmo Central (SWEDEN)--> Nassjoe--> Vetlanda
This is the perhaps sweetest part of my entire journey. The trains are the the very best(unlike Hwh-Mas mail). And the people are so co-operative in Sweden unlike Amsterdam(Some are real racists). The first frontier at CPH airport for me was that I had to to collect my luggage from downstairs at Arrivals(as shown in the ever spawning sign-boards). There was a guy from Hyderabad and another from Toronto who helped me collect my own luggage! I exchanged 100 Euros for 830 SEK (Swedish Kroner) at the exchange counter there. Then, I got to the train terminal which was located at the airport exit. I purchased the tickets with amex card which would take me inside Swedish frontiers i.e Malmo C. A Swedish family helped me out. They were perhaps the best people I had met outside India until now. Now some where inside the train caught fire all of a sudden. It stopped abruptly after the announcement was made in local dialect, which was all greek to me. The alternate one came after 10 min. So I went to Malmo Central thanks to the Swedish family as they helped me with the local announcements. And missed the connecting one to Nassjoe. So I had to wait for two hrs. The tickets cost me around 460 SEK. (1 SEK=Rs 6.6). Its quite costly even here. I took an apple and a cup of coffee during the wait. (16 + 5 SEK). Meanwhile, I purchased a calling card, called up Chandra and apprised him of the situation. Then finally at 1714 hrs, I fortunately took the train which was going all the way to Stockholm. After half an hour of passing the snow lining on either side the train caught up a speed around 250 km/hr as per the screen-information. The journey was most comfortable of the whole trip. A Swedish girl helped me reach the taxi stand. She braved the cold and snow just to show me the way and went back. Nice gal! Then I took a cab(Saab make, Gps navigation screen, amazing, he only fed the information Vittalagatan 15 C for street and house number) for 40 kms and it costed me 465 SEK(way too much). Finally I arrived at the apartment at around 2000 hrs and for me, and it ended with a 'WoW! Finally I reached'.

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