The Ladakh Diary – Starting with the End!

Monday, September 14, 2009

It was the longest vacation of my life. Two weeks of huffing and puffing – Ooh! and Aaahs! – Oops and ‘Lord have mercy’. The scariest roads I had ever been on, the most beautiful places I had ever been to. It’s not possible to describe it in words, even for a so called poet/writer like me. Still, I will try my best to paint a few pictures and share those I clicked during the tour.

Why with the end?

I am starting this tour-diary with the entry reserved for the last post in the series. The reason – I was unfortunate enough to be booked on a Jetlite flight from Srinagar to Mumbai.
Now for the people who have no clue what I am talking about, Jetlite is an airline owned by the Jet Airways. Most of the pilots of the Jet were on a 5-6 days long strike and as a result it took me 14-15 hours to reach Mumbai.

Fasten your seatbelts for a long and boring post full of cribbing.
Actually I wanna get over with this part cz I don’t wanna end my Ladakh diary on a bad note. So bear with me

False sense of Security

It was the 11th September – the one bad day you can pick to fly from the most disturbed area of India – Kashmir.

I knew my 2:30 pm direct flight to Mumbai will be cancelled but Jetlite did not bother to send any mail/sms/call. I made it to the Srinagar airport by 10 am so that I can check the status. We were stopped at two places outside the premises and our bags were x-rayed, our backpacks checked and we were frisked (so sad, my name is not SRK or I would be getting so much publicity by now). The frisking was very revolting, especially for me as I have severe ‘Personal Space’ problem. But I totally understand the need for security.

Overall, I was made to go through 6 security checks – 4 frisking. I would not be cribbing about it but in the end I found it all very useless cz even with all the touching, the frisking was done very immaturely. The worst part was – there were no demands for a photo ID!! I could have been absolutely anyone. Even a Pakistani and they wouldn’t know.

False Promises

I was promised a flight to Mumbai as mine was cancelled. Jetlite promised that my flight (scheduled at 3 pm) will stop at Jammu and Delhi but will ultimately go to Mumbai and I won’t have to get off from the plane. I confirmed the same with more than 5 Jet personnel. All said – Yes Yes. You won’t have to get off before Mumbai.

All Lies.

The cafeteria had stale food! We were famished by the time the flight was announced at 3:30 pm. Even with all the problems, I was really happy that finally the flight was taking me home. I was dying to see friendly and smiling faces.. (

The unwanted

The Jetlite flight decided to take all the passengers of a cancelled Kingfisher flight (the Kingfisher passengers all got complimentary snacks .. hehehe... never mind).

To my utter horror I realized that there were people sitting on the seats allotted to us on our boarding pass!! The very rude airhostess of Jetlite tried to sushhh me in a corner. It was the last nail in the coffin of my patience level. I told her clearly that I was gonna stand in the aisle unless she solves my problem.

No response. Not even a Plastic smile on her face! The Lady pretended to be deaf!
After 10 minutes she said – All the empty seats are free. Go sit anywhere. I knew that very moment that the flight was not going to Mumbai after all. I asked the flight supervisor – Some more false promises.

Alien in our own country!!?

During the flight the guy sitting in my row asked for a sandwich. The air-hostess said they only had cold beverages. To my surprise, I saw her serving a chicken sandwich to a foreigner sitting just in the front seat!! I Wonder why he was denied the food. He was certainly willing to pay for it!

As I knew, we were dumped in Delhi. The PA system announced that the Kingfisher passengers going to Chennai were to remain seated and the Bangalore passengers were to contact ground staff. No announcement for the Mumbai passengers. We had to get down and ask a staff standing near the plane who was equally rude and foul mouthed.

Getting Dumped, rather unceremoniously

It was raining and the city was colder than Srinagar at that moment (thank god I had a jacket in my backpack). Our luggage was still inside the plane. Promises were made again that it will reach Mumbai and we will be boarding a plane at 8:30 pm.

We were about 8-10 Mumbai bound passengers. We had no clue what to do next, whom to contact!

We raced from the arrival terminal to the departure terminal for our flight to Mumbai. No transportation was provided. There were two really old ladies... I wonder how horrible they were feeling.

Losing my temper

By this time I was full of anger. I started hunting for a person-in-charge but all we got was – Go to that counter – Go to this counter. Even the ground staff in-charge of our case was too rude, callous and @$%@^%#%^.

I told them clearly that I was not gonna board any flight unless I got my complaint registered.
In the end, I finally found a person in charge who heard me. Noted down my complaint and then called the night-manager of the staff. I was so angry - I could feel my hands shaking. I told them that I totally understand their problem due to the pilot strike but it does not give then an excuse to lie to passengers and be soooooooo rude to them.

Made a formal complaint against the ground staff and the cabin crew members – with their names. (thank god for the name tags)

Home Sweet Home!

Got some extra special treatment after that. written apology letter was offered - upgraded to the full service level – the manager personally escorted to the special bus to the next plane etc.
In the end, with all the delays, it was 1 am when I made it home. 15 hours after reaching Srinagar Airport

man... was I happy to see the chaos called Mumbai!!!!


PS: I got it all out in this post and now from the next post of the Ladakh Diary, you will get to read more interesting things with better pictures! The new header of the blog is the picture I took in Leh.


Anonymous,  September 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM  

welcome adminji...... welcome

uwan nahi dikh rahe isme......

aur ye aapke experiences of flights to kamal ke hai.... free snack bhi mil gaya.. aur... alien se bhi mulakaatein kar li.... aur kashmir me aatankwadiyon ko darra ke aap wapis ghar pahonch gaye aakhir ..... thanks god.....

waise... s.r.k. wahan nahi tha.. so unlucky he is.. nahi to uski kismat badal jaati...... bahot ku6 feel hota bechare ko..... kahi lad padta wo security walo se..AAP KI KHAATIR....

Tarun Goel September 14, 2009 at 3:10 PM  

I thought you will talk about snow, mountains, chines, pakistani's but its so sad :)

Chhaya September 14, 2009 at 3:17 PM  

@Bheja - it wa a horrible day.. seriously

@Tarun - i am done with the worst part so all those topics coming up very soon.. btw, nice spelling of the chini bhai log :D hehehe.. remoinds me of the neighbourhood fast-food stall :D

Tarun Goel September 14, 2009 at 3:38 PM  

hey that is deliberately done...
chinese ka = chinese's [sounds weird]
so i did it chine's
I didn't put " ' "

Tarun Goel September 14, 2009 at 3:44 PM  


i knoe so many gaali's but did not understand this[these] :D

Chhaya September 14, 2009 at 3:57 PM  

@Tarun - that cz i DONT know any galis.. heheh.. at least cant use them... as Calvin once said - ‘Life ‘s dissapointments are bit harder to take when you dont know any swear words ‘ :D

Rachana September 14, 2009 at 4:52 PM  

Hey Chhaya, it's great to have you back!

When I read your update that you are off to Ladakh I was so envious ;) It's good to know that other than the last frustrating bit you had a good trip so welcome back!

Chhaya September 14, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

@Rachna - thank u! the trip was really awesome.. i just didnt like the Srinagar and then the return journey part

Zero September 14, 2009 at 9:33 PM  

Welcome back. Thanks for the update. Best regards.

Opaque September 15, 2009 at 3:41 AM  

Seems like there were ups and downs in the trip, that you handles quite well. Welcome back!

IdleMind September 15, 2009 at 10:10 AM  

The best part first - the new header looks fab! Loved the snap ... u clicked a wonder!!

Jetlite is Sahara converted to Naresh Goyal's low cost version. To be honest, I hate it. Never did I get the attention I deserved from the many trips I made with them. Now I feel Indigo or even Spicejet better. Lessons learnt for you ... shun that mucchhi Goyal for now. You'll feel peace.

Finally, about ur comment at my space ... hey, are you kidding? can a poem full of love ever be compared to my writing? ... leave alone being more interesting.

Yaar, itna pamper bhi na karo ki hum akaash se gir kar khajoor mein atak jaay! ;)

Now, waiting for the paradise to unfold. hehehe

Chalo Ladakh chale ..

InkTank September 15, 2009 at 10:53 AM  

wonderful to have u back chhaya! ladakh is heavenly i have heard. cos of my medical condition i will never be able to see it i will have to satisfy myself with ur description of this trip. and i know u are capable of awesome pictures:) and this jet airways thing.....we indians cant offer service....we are just not capable.....most of us i mean!!!

Chhaya September 15, 2009 at 11:01 AM  

@Zero - thanks for dropping by :)

@Ajey (Brosreview) - it was fabulous... i loved the ups and downs on the hills but the way Jet airways treated us was simple aweful. Anyways, i got this out of my system so that i can start writing about the trip without any negativity :)

Chhaya September 15, 2009 at 11:02 AM  

@Idle - actually after the trip expenses, i was really broke and jetlite had a direct flight to mumbai so the temptation was great. Never again will i make the same mistake again.

Chhaya September 15, 2009 at 11:04 AM  

@inky - i have some really nice snaps .. hehe... actually every view is worth a photograph.. its an amazing part of our country. dont worry, i will be the kaliyug ka sanjay and show u the mountains through my eyes!

Uday September 15, 2009 at 12:01 PM  

Looking forward to the next post ;). I love the himalayas.. i hope you have boat loads of pictures and experiences to write about. I plan to go to Tibet and Kailash next year myself. What to know what to expect :)

Chhaya September 15, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

@Uday - i have some 2700 pictures! hehehehhe.. and yeah, i gonna put a detailed and very honest tavelogue

A1 September 15, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

hmmm, makes for an adventurous end to an exciting tour eh,,

Pete September 16, 2009 at 8:16 AM  


I'm glad you returned in one piece, though frisked somewhat. No plane crashes either, thank God.

Should have asked that foreigner to share the sandwich in the interests of international decorum and personhood.



Chhaya September 16, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

@A1 - thnx for dropping by.

@Pete - i felt bad cz the hostess did serve one person who was equally capable of paying and was starving since morning. it was an unfair thing to do. It wasnt that foreigners fault. I dont think he even knew that had just happend a seat behind him

Its my life September 16, 2009 at 12:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John September 17, 2009 at 10:38 AM  

Wow, what the heck? I am truly sorry for what happened to you and I hope in the future flights, service will improve. Looking forward to the next posts with pics.

itsyvitsy September 17, 2009 at 11:22 AM  

At the end of this post, I was telling myself "Is it over?" You have the most gracious way of putting down even the meanest of things. There are very few people who stand up to injustice, whether made to themselves or others. I am happy to find that you are one of them. It is necessary to realize that one must stand for his/her own rights - and this is a realization even I have to make myself get to terms with. Chickening out is easy, but standing up to something is tough but very brave.

I am awaiting a link to the scenic pictures and other voluminous accounts of your voyage.


Shamik Mitra September 19, 2009 at 2:05 PM  

glad to c that u r back . Looks like u had quite an adventure and i hope u have got some new poems on the way as u seem u have had quite a "Visual Poetry" in these few days :)

vicious September 19, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

anyways ..good that the bad thing is over ...i am eagerly waiting 4 ur pics from d visit after seeing the new look of ur blog !!!

mine ended in harassment too:(

Its my life September 20, 2009 at 12:13 AM  

Hi Chhaya, how are you and nice to see you come back after your trip. So, you had very bad flight. Finally you reached Mumbai, after so many interruptions. I too had bad experiences with Jetlite and I was offered a sick sandwich during my travel. I gave one bite and it was very horrible sandwich, so, did not eat and thrown away.. Looking forward for your Ladakh dairy in coming days.. take good rest and come back with a bang.. :)

Maya September 20, 2009 at 8:00 AM  

bad experiences i guess makes the trip more memorable,, but it shouldnt be at the end..

header pic is awesome,, waiting for more pics,, hope u dont take too much time for ur next post...

Chhaya September 20, 2009 at 7:42 PM  

@John (Quackster) - it was indeed a horrible experience but this is the way most of india works. its a sorry state of affairs. people dont raise their voice to fight for their rights.

Chhaya September 20, 2009 at 7:43 PM  

@VPrabhu - u r too kind :).. and yeah, i never back off from fighting for what is rightfully mine. basic good manners is the least we can expect from a cabin crew.

Chhaya September 20, 2009 at 7:44 PM  

@Shamik - lots of pictures and many rough poems.. need to polish the second.

@Itmylife - there is no way i am going to fly JetLite ever again

@Maya (Uncommon Sense) - thank u .. you were missed :)

IdleMind September 21, 2009 at 5:18 PM  

Wish you a wonderful Navratri! I know it has started for you ... but just dropped by to wish you on the occasion.

Btw, when are we seeing the pics from mountains?

Chhaya September 21, 2009 at 7:01 PM  

@Idle - thank u :)

yes, my Puja has already started. i am into my third day of no cereals, no salt, nothing cooked fasting ... 5 days more to go.. absolutely love it..

will post something in a day or two

IdleMind September 23, 2009 at 1:39 PM  

Ref your comment at my space, u r right! forgot the readings on the in-flight monitor ('coz of being tipsy, may be). Raised up to FL300 to FL400 levels, captain. Over and out!!:D

Ajai September 24, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

Finally you're back... :)
Sorry to hear abt you Jetting probs. You handled it really well.
Now looking forward to the inside scoop from Ladakh. :)

L. Venkata Subramaniam September 26, 2009 at 12:04 PM  

Sad. After such a nice holiday this is a bad experience to have. Sadly our corporations do not believe in customer relationship management. I think we are all to blame for it, because one to all our organizations seem to be like this.

L. Venkata Subramaniam September 26, 2009 at 12:05 PM  

Did you get time to see Srinagar. It is beautiful too isnt it.

aditya September 26, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

heyy Chhaya

You chose a plane to go all the way upto Leh. Now, your life .. your call, but still you should have taken a flight up to Manali and travelled by the road!!! Manali-Leh Highway is the most breathtaking roads ever constructed by the BRO. Probably the best road in India.

Did you got to Nubra ?? and Pang Gong Tso?? I missed them the last year.
I will read your poetry pretty soon .. :)

Chhaya September 26, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

@Ajai - yes, the pictures are on their way.. i m just too caught up with work.

@LVS - did go to Srinagar, the return flight was from there only.. i didnt like it much though. too commercialised...

Chhaya September 26, 2009 at 3:12 PM  

@Aditya - It was a Road Trip yaar. We drove from Delhi to Srinagar. went to all the places you have mentioned and many many more. Took the flight only from Srinagar to mumbai.

aditya September 27, 2009 at 3:04 PM  

Ohh .. I probably mixed up and assumed you took the flight both ways.

But these must have been an incredible 20 days for you !

Chhaya September 27, 2009 at 8:16 PM  

@Aditya - its ok :)

and yeah.. they were amazing 20 days :)

Chhaya September 30, 2009 at 2:35 PM  

@John (quackster) - thank u! and yes... so glad u liked it

санжог January 5, 2010 at 10:01 AM  

wow, that was freaking awful, I hope that the trek in Laddakh covered that up.

I once promised to myself, never in my life will I travel Air-India.

As we do not have any options, we just have to put up with it.

thank god you didn't get the sandwich, you probably don't want to know where it has been!!

Nice blog.

Chhaya January 5, 2010 at 10:09 AM  

@Cahxor : it was aweful! but yeah,Ladakh is worth every moment of harrasment :)

btw, it was not Air-India flight
and it wasnt me who wanted the sandwich.

thanks for dropping by :)

санжог January 5, 2010 at 10:40 AM  

Well, all the airlines in India are the same, isn't it?

@sandwich thing
that's what I meant, you were lucky u didn't want any, i was just looking at the bright side!!

Hey you like to dance in the rain!! so you must be objectively flexible and subjectively firm!!


санжог January 5, 2010 at 10:43 AM  

Coz you can't be metaphysically wrinkle free!! coz you dont want "feel no pain!" you went for rain-dancing thingy!!

That part of your profile is nice-work.

Chhaya January 5, 2010 at 11:02 AM  

@Cahxor: i will remember to try the _the/any_ combo now on :D

btw, that dance in the rain than feel no pain is actually not original. its a commong profiling Q for the Marines/Spooks in the pop culture.

it was in the movie called - _The Recruit_ (there r three options. third is _Ride on the train_)

the person in Q is supposed to say _fee no pain_.

but i will for sure prefer to dance in the Rain. Painis ok with me :)

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