A reality check – Listen to the signs

Hi to all my readers,

It’s been almost a year since my last posting and even writing this post took me a long time to gather my thoughts. Normally my posts are full of snark and sarcasm with pretentious of humor. Today, I want to tell you that that will not cease after this post.. but for this post, let me tell you a story that hit home (like a ton of bricks). I ignored signals my body was giving me and it was almost disastrous.

A few weeks ago I fell ill and with a pulmonary embolism (PE) and was hospitalized. The PE was caused by blood clots in my left leg that traveled up both of my lungs and caused clots and causing the right side of of my heart to stop getting blood.. Of course this had a chain reaction and I would not be alive today, if I didn’t have the support of my girl friend (yes I can say that openly). She saved my life and Di deserves the recognition for this.

The worst thing of this whole story is that I ignored the danger signs when I was in NJ as well as when I was out of the country (In Cancun, Mexico). The signs of heart issues started a few month ago and of course they progressed. Over a period of 2 month when the first symptoms of my PE materialized and being the “macho man” I thought I was I ignored the swollen left leg and the inability to breathe after short durations of walking or any exertion. I was too self absorbed and felt I could power through it all. I could not have been any more wrong . If thing would have gone worse, I could have easily come back home not in a seat on the plane, but as a body being sent home. Not a pretty thought but it is what it is.

After I returned to my NJ home from my vacation , I resumed normal activities of work and my passion of tennis and walking. All the time, ignoring the warning signs that my body kept on telling me . I couldn’t walk much without discomfort and playing tennis was very difficult.. Of course in my warped and self absorbed mind, I was thinking “wouldn’t it be cool, if I took my last breath on the tennis court”. Yeah that’s me in a nutshell , self destructive even when I knew that something was wrong.

I went to work, tried to do my ten thousand steps a day and tried to power through the pain and discomfort. My girlfriend (who happens to be RN), noticed that I was laboring and she started to ask the right questions and then some type of light went off in my head, and I finally realized that I was in serious trouble.. The day before I was hospitalized, I was doing my normal after dinner walk in my complex and after walking less than 1/4 of a mile, I had to turn back with coughing, and inability to catch my breath.. as I lounged on my sofa, I was talking to Di and she was monitoring my labored breathing and had me monitor my BPM’s on my Fitbit (Everyone should have one!). Basically my Heart rate (BPM) were not coming below 115 – 120 and I was still having problems breathing.. I relented and I had a Venous Doppler done at a local hospital next day.

The doppler revealed clots in my left leg and an emergency CAT scan was done on my chest which revealed, massive clots on both my lungs. I was transferred to one of the 5 best hospitals in the US for treatment later that evening. NY Presbyterian hospital (NYP) in NYC. Being transferred to NYP saved my life and I thank all the doctors and nurses at NYP for the care they gave me over a period of 6 days to nurse me back from the brink of death to a person on the road to recovery.

The road to recovery will be a long one and I the more I try being Macho and trying to power through the ups and downs, I know it will take me longer to resume some level of normal activities. For me that walking 10,000 steps a day and being able to play tennis 2 to 3 times a week. Yet I do digress, as I tend to do in my postings..

I know I’ll be on blood thinners for a long time (if not for the rest of my life), as well as monitoring all aspects of my health. Not being a tough guy is going to take a while, but when your body says, “enough is enough”, you must listen, unless of course you have a death wish.

Over the past month, I realize the following lessons learned:

  • You ignore your heart and the signs your body is giving you. Our body is smart enough to give us basic indications that something is wrong. If you ignore these signs, you are only hurting yourself and your family.
  • Appreciate your friends and family when they want to help you. I kept to myself and didn’t let others in. This is not the way to lead your life. You have let others in that love you unconditionally.
  • Money will come and go, but how you utilize the money to make a difference in your quality of life is key.. Being a squirrel in life is ok, but are you going to take the money with you?
  • Watch what you eat, and do a balanced exercise regimen. Everything you eat has immediate and long term affects on your well being.
  • Thank god every day for watching over you. This is the most important lesson.

As I sit here and put up this post, I realize me changing my perspective is a long term goal, but every day, I’m taking small steps to make sure I’m around to enjoy life to the fullest. Also I want to live to see my kids have kids so they can experience the joys of parenthood as I have.

Hot Times in NJ – Heatwave

Now I’m not one to shy away from a little heat wave, but the heat wave that central NJ is currently in, is almost equal to the heat that I’ve seen during my visits to India. Indian summers are summers where you can take 3 to 4 showers a day, and still feel sticky, ugh!

This morning, I was playing tennis (even though we started at 8AM, by 9:30, it was feeling like 100 degrees in the shade and it was unbearable.. Yeah the truly fanatical doubles players really don’t look as heat as an obstacle when it comes to their weekly game..) Of course this made me reflect on how the professionals play 4 or 5 sets in incredible heat at Wimbledon, Australian Open and French Open respectively. Of course when it comes the US Open in Flushing meadows, the heat has tapered down quite a bit by End of August.. BTW, if you see me at the US open.. I’m the lunatic going from court to court on the grounds.. trying to see as much as I can in one day!

The Pro’s when they play the tournaments, must either be superhuman, or their conditioning is absolutely the reason, they can play hours at a time in brutal heat conditions. When I saw the finals of Wimbledon with Federer vs Djocovic (sic), go on for an incredible 5 hours and almost 6 sets (including the 5th set tiebreaker, had to be the best match ever.

Yet, many of my followers know I digress!

Today, the entire Northeast corridor and parts of central US are in a “heat bubble“. Yeah that’s what they called it on the news. Of course in NJ.. a heatwave means the beaches are flooded, with the sun worshipers. Below are some things that occur in Monmouth County, NJ when there is a beach weather like today.. Of course Dad.. doesn’t do beaches, he’s more of a boardwalk junkie..

  • Garden State Parkway heading to the shore sites are backed up for miles
  • Since there are not many “free” beaches in central NJ (and believe it or not there are a few “secretly free” beaches in NJ).
    • The one I beach is worth looking into is the one between Ocean Grove, and Asbury Park. This little strip of beach is un-manned so buyer beware.
  • The afternoon and early evening traffic from Sandy Hook and the beaches on Ocean Avenue traffic is somewhere I do not want to be.

So my plan for today is to chillax, take a nap (done) and binge watch “Netflix” and catch up on Stranger things..

What’s your favorite “free” beach in NJ as a comment and we can start a wave of “seekers of free beaches” movement..

Netflix and Chill – What??

Ok Friends and family,

I’ve not been blogging as the taxi as I’ve been reserving my thoughts for things that really disturb me.. and when I wrote this entry.. I was disturbed for quite a few days.

This week I learned that the expression “Netflix and Chill” does not mean what it literally means in the words.. Of course me being over 50 and not cool.. I had no idea that the connotation of this expression today.. of course the meaning of this phrase is way different from what it meant when I was in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Of course during those days Netflix was not a streaming service but a overnight DVD business. So how would I know what how the phrase has evolved over the past 10 or so years? The true meaning is way different from what I thought it was.

For me.. these innocent words meant a friend comes over and we WATCH NetFlix and just relax.. oh no.. that’s not what it means.. I found out that I’m not the ONLY person that did not know what TODAY’s meaning of his phrase means. I found out that today’s meaning is “come on over, we will turn on Netflix and get busy.. (you can read into that what getting busy means)”. Since I write a PG13 blog, I’m not going to explain to anyone what the real meaning is.. If you don’t know, go ask anybody from Gen X or Gen Y.

When did this meaning change? Why didn’t I know? Did I just miss the boat on this?

Why didn’t I get an email or a text from someone on this gross lack of basic 2019 knowledge?

So I did what any person in my situation would do.. I took an informal poll of people from my age group (totally non-scientific poll) and I found that I was not the only one that didn’t know the true meaning of this phrase.. I asked about 10 people and they all agreed with my incorrect interpretation.

I then went to the generation X, Y, Z and asked the same question and I got the responses I expected:

  • Inappropriate question Dad
  • Dad, If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you
  • OMG, why would you ask ME that kind of question
  • Do you really mean that?
  • That has been the meaning for years, why don’t you know?

I guess I really need to get with the right lingo for today’s world.. No more “Netflix and Chill” for me!

iPhone Battery – Epic Fails

As the whole world knows, Apple offered replacement batteries for older iPhones at a reduced rate of $29 and $39 during all of 2018.. Well I was one of those procrastinators that didn’t get my battery earlier this year and left it for the last few days of of 2018.. Huge Mistake!

Epic Fail #1: Grand Central Station: My first stop on my hunt for a battery was NYC in mid-December, when I visited NYC to meet my daughter for our annual daddy-daughter date. That’s a story for another day… … I’d call Grand Central Station as the holy grail of Apple stores. An aura of peace and serenity comes over you as you walk up those golden steps. Now this Apple store is absolutely amazing, with the level of help that is available with Apple support staff in their red Shirts.

At this store, I found out the following things:

  • There is a chance of data loss if an iPhone battery is changed. This one actually made me dizzy, as I didn’t know when was the last time I backed up my iPhone..
    • My iPhone 6s has not been backed up for many many months and that was the first sign trouble. Yeah.. I didn’t back up the phone as I don’t typically read the mantra of backup which is: backup, backup, backup.
  • I didn’t know my Apple Password.. ok.. that was just my dementia kicking in due to the excitement of actually being in the holy grail of apple.. a Store! I finally remembered my password
    • So after putting my name on the list to see a “specialist” I wandered around Grand Central to do my business.. in layman’s terms.. to use the facilities.
  • The cool Apple folks told me that I only had to wait 15 minutes or so before I was to go to the next step which is a technical specialist to see me and my pride and joy (iPhone). To me 15 minutes was not that big of a deal and I went along.. but wait .. this is where it gets interesting.
  • When my name was called and went to the cavernous waiting area for a specialist, I was in pure Nirvana that I was in the actual place where the cool kids play. Within minute a techie came over and examined my phone and get ready for this.. He told me that my iPhone was not mine! my iPhone’s serial number didn’t match the serial number in the great Apple cloud in the sky. Which meant… as far as Apple was concerned, I had an “illegal or stolen’ iPhone..
    • Now I started to sweat profusely.. and started to stammer something silly like: “Huh??”, “How could this happen?”, “What do I do now?”… Well my new best friend the Apple geek said: “Oh sir this happens all the time! Perhaps your carrier never updated the serial number for you iPhone when you purchased it a few years ago”. By this time, my head is hurting… I’m sweating and my iPhone world is crashing down around me! My new best friend, said they would escalate this to Tier 2 support and get the serial updated in the Apple cloud.. But as you can guess.. I was SOL (I think you know what those acronyms stand for).. this is a family show, so I won’t detail those acronyms (S*it out of Luck)..
    • So my new BFF told me that this issue would be resolved within a day or so, and I will have to call Apple support to confirm.. I thought security would come rushing thorough Grand Central and take me into a holding cell and torture me into confessing that I had stolen my own phone! Yes this is my paranoia kicking in,
    • So now I left depressed the cavern of joy (the Apple Store) , tears in my eyes as I had failed on my mission!

Epic Fail #2: Where is the Apple Store in Central NJ? You are in the wrong Mall!

  • Fast Forward to December 28. Yes that’s how long, I wasted in moving forward. You can chalk that one up to sheer vacay mode or just laziness. In my case 90% of the second and 10% of the first.
  • So while I’m home on my annual staycation (another topic for another day).. I called Apple support (on December 28th) and got confirmation that my serial number was now correct and I was green lighted to go my local apple support store to get the crown jewel of battery replacement.
  • So I first went to the wrong Mall. I call this not knowing your facts 101. I went to Woodbridge Mall and asked the vendors.. “Where is the Apple Store?”.. One vendor sent me on a wild goose chase and after coming back to where I started, I asked another vendor and she said: “Oh You are in the wrong Mall! You need to go to Menlo Park Mall..” Which is about 5 miles away,. Yet if you know NJ traffic during after Xmas, you know that 5 miles could take you a minimum of 1/2 hour or more.. and that’s exactly what it took for me to get to my second Apple Store!
  • I get to Menlo Park Mall and I find my happy place (The Apple Store), and wander around amongst the masses looking for help.. I’m directed to the front entrance and here’s my second epic fail for the day: the nice techie tells me due to the rush or batteries, they are NOT taking any more walk-in’s today. Keep in mind that this was at about 4:30 PM and the store doesn’t close till about 9PM.
  • Needless say, I leave dejected and saddened again with tears welling up in my eyes as now I’ve been to 2 apple stores and over two weeks and have still not gotten a new battery!
    • Leaving Menlo Park and going back to my home (in Middletown, NJ), was another epic adventure, with multiple traffic jams and the normal crazy NJ traffic. A trip that should take 30 minutes took me almost 2 hours to traverse… Yes that’s a word I now use, since I’ve been learning new words playing Word Chums on my iPhone!

So Now I’ve wasted 3 to 4 hours on a vacation day and gone to 2 separate malls with no success to my task at hand.. I was NOT a happy camper.. So I said to myself, I’m going to regroup and go to my third Apple store in Freehold, NJ and I’m sure, I’ll have better luck there! Can you guess what happened? Epic Fail #3.. The third time was not a charm!

Epic Fail #3: Freehold Raceway Mall

  • I go to the Freehold Raceway Mall next afternoon and find the happy place.. and of course.. there’s a huge line.. as half of NJ is there.
  • I get on the “service line” and the gatekeeper tells me…. there is a 5 hour wait for battery replacements.. She says to me “Didn’t I know that this was available for all of 2018 and everyone is rushing to get their batteries replaced“.
  • So I take a number and wander my third mega NJ mall in two days contemplating my next move.. After an hour or so.. I said, it was not in my destiny to get a new battery and it’s better that I just give up and go home..

So after 2 weeks , 3 Apple stores, 3 Mega Malls in NJ, I am back to square one.. an iPhone 6S with a battery that lasts less than a few hours on a normal charge.. I guess the moral of this story is…

Lesson Learned: Don’t procrastinate when it comes being part of the Apple cult of iPhone ownership.. go early as possible and think about all the things that can go wrong.. Yet in retrospect, I did feel like I was entering heaven when I entered every Apple store where I saw my family (other Apple cult members) all with glazed expressions and intently getting their Apple toys!

So what’s my next move? I’m gonna go and upgrade my iPhone to the latest iPhone in 2019 and make sure I bow down to it and pray to the Apple god’s to make sure I don’t need a battery replacement!

Where have I been? Out of the darkness

I realize that I haven’t updated my blog in a long long time.. Over 6 to 10 months.. This is not good. When I first started this blog many years ago.. my objective was to inform and entertain., Somewhere along the way.. I got distracted and lost my way.

So here we are at the end of 2018 and I need to get back to my roots. I will make it my point to put up posts that are entertaining and informative.. My new focus will be to talk about things that surround me in my day to day life that amuse me and at times, just tick me off.

2018 has been an year of re-awakening for me.. It’s been over 3 year since my divorce. So I’m going to tell the blogging world some stuff that I’ve been going through for the past 3

For the past 3 years I lived in survival mode. I was living in Red Bank, NJ in a small 1 bedroom and was putting my life back together financially and emotionally. To say that the past 3 years have been humbling, is an understatement. I thought highly of myself as a homeowner, parent, and husband. I was proud of my achievements (I think a bit arrogant).  I had this swagger and this led to my downfall in all areas of these areas.

With the divorce, I had to sell my marital home,  adjust my parenting style and as a divorced father, I had to realize that the divorce was not caused just by her but I had to accept ownership of my contributions,

What made me to come to this revelation? Well it’s a combination of multiple things.. Introspection, my friends, long walks, Tennis (yes this is and will continue to be my passion), therapy and having to do a hard reset to almost every facet of my life.  Financially, the monetary devastation the divorce brought to me, taught me  that  money comes and goes, but relationships last for ever.

Without my friends, I would have never see the light at the end of the tunnel. My two closest friends, stood by me as my emotional ups and down took a toll on them as well. Yet both of my friends were always there for me. Whenever I wanted, all I had to do was call them and they were there. Be it on the tennis court or just having me over and allowing me to vent my frustrations at my situation.

My two girls (whom I’ve written about on this blog many many times), showed me what unconditional love is. The divorce affected each of them quite differently. One was matter of fact accepting and the other the divorce affected her deeply. Yet regardless, they showed me the love and support that only children can give to you. They were there for me whenever I needed them. Even as I at times was emotionally unavailable for them, they were always there for me.

I had to figure out a balance and between my issues with the divorce to being a loving parent to my girls.

My dysfunctional life at work was consistent..

  • To have your ex-wife working in the same physical work location and seeing her almost every day, brought out much emotion.  Almost every emotion I experienced, was not positive (anger, disdain, contempt, sadness, dread, and many many more..) . It took me 2+ year to come to grips that the daily dysfunction enabled me to compartmentalize my thoughts.  I was able to separate my emotions and come to a level of acceptance that this dysfunction will always be a part of my for as long as both of us work in the same physical location
  • My best friend is the boss of my ex-wife and kudos to him, our friendship was strained as he saw both me and my ex-wife every day and he was thrust into the firing zone. What amazes me is that P he maintained a balance to have an employee that was his best friend’s ex-wife. I’m not sure I could have handled this dysfunction.

So where am I today?

  • I became a homeowner at the beginning of this year and continued to regain my financial health.
  • I’m focused on my mental and physical well being. I’m learning to appreciate the little things in life and above all enjoy myself..

Where am I going?

  • I love writing and it’s therapy for me to write Dad’s Taxi. I need to go back to my roots and write about things that express my life.
  • When I look at the state of my blog, it needs a revamp and will be doing this over the next few month.

 

 

Wiping your IPhone Clean

Well, I’m Baack! I’ve been off line for a few months.. with the craziness of work and the fact that my life is just as crazier than usual.. that’s an update for another post!

Are you buying a new iPhone X and want to wipe all the data from your old phone?  Well I came across this CNET article that might be usable to you.

With the iPhone X availibility now down to just a few days: Yes, Dad is itching to  get an iPhone X, yet we all know how the best laid plans can be put on hold.

Yes even if you are a DROID or a Window’s phone you can use the CNET article to clear your phone, so you can become one of the iPhone cult followers… like I am..

I excerpted the intructions below from the site above.. so I’m not taking any accolades for my kownledge or ability to do the instructions below.. I am also not responsible if anything goes wrong when you follow the excerpted instructions below!

Apple devices that support iOS 5 or later include hardware encryption when you set a passcode. If you perform a wipe using the method below, the encryption key is also overwritten, which makes it very difficult for anyone who wants to recover the data.

Step 1: Before starting the reset process, make sure to unpair devices like the Apple Watch ($429.00 at Apple). Then, turn off Find My iPhone ($849.00 at Apple). For iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone. Enter your Apple ID password if prompted. For iOS 10.3 or later, go to Settings > Your name > iCloud > Find My iPhone.

Step 2: Turn off and sign out of other services including iMessage and the App Store. Go to Settings > Messages > toggle the iMessage option. For your Apple ID, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > tap your Apple ID email address and then tap Sign Out.

For added peace of mind you may also want to sign out individually from any other linked services and apps, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Step 3: Sign out of iCloud completely. Head to Settings > iCloud and find Sign Out at the bottom of the page. For iOS 10.3 and later, Settings > Your name > Sign Out. For iOS 7 devices, choose Delete Account.

Note: if you delete all your data manually without signing out of iCloud, it will also delete the content from iCloud as well — which is something you definitely don’t want.

Step 4: Start the wipe process. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Confirm the selection.

Step 5: Remove the serial number of the device from your Apple account profile at appleid.apple.com.

India Trip – No Power Cells in Bags!

I haven’t written for a while, but here’s the last chapter in my India follies.

Of course this also involves Airplanes and my ongoing battle with the rules of flight in India. It seems the rules for what you can and cannot have in your checked baggage differs when you come from US and when you got to US using Air India. Going from US, they don’t care what you have in your checked in bags.. and this is important as you will soon see.

Coming from Mumbai is a totally different story.. You can’t have ANY external power packs in your checked in bags! Of course you don’t know this till AFTER you come to the airport!

Mumbai airport is a very modern and beautiful airport. Unless of course you are flying with Air India! Air India is a government owned airline of India and with that comes the perils of dealing with anything that is government related in India. Incompetence!

My daughter and I got to the airport early so we could check in before the crowds.. Wrong! Air India will not allow you to check in unless it’s 2 hours before the flight. God forbid you come 3 hours earlier.. you are out of luck.. you need to be there 2 hours before flight time.. This is to ensure you hit the long lines and crowds!

We got there 3 hours early and there were no lines.. so naturally we tried to check in.. but we were told in no certain terms to come back when in an hour when it was two hours before boarding.. Don’t ask.. I asked why and the person behind the counter said, that it’s the rules and they follow the rules!

So my daughter and I walked away and sat nearby.. So can you guess what happened when it was 2 hours before boarding? The checkin line snaked around the terminal!

After we got to the counter (about an hour later).. they found one of my bags was overweight by 4 lbs.. so they tell me to go the “payment counter” to pay overweight fees. I just shook my head and went to the counter.. and you can guess what happened next!

Nobody there! The person on duty had apparently gone on break or something and nobody else could do his job.. Anyway, the guy shows up about 20 mins later and by this time, I’m furious.. He gives me some lame excuse.. saying he had to step away on an “urgent issue”.. So I pay my punishment fee ($100) and check in..

While I check in I notice a sign which says that no power packs are allowed in checked bags.. I of course didn’t think I had any in my bag! Wrong again!

We check in and walk towards the gate.. and this is when the fun begins!

They call my name at the gate and take me to a soldier who tells me that there is a problem with my baggage. Of course by this time.. I’ve passed through multiple security checks and they wouldn’t let me out of the secured area with the soldier.. after a few minutes of discussion.. they did let me out..

The soldier takes me a few levels down into the bowels of the airport.. and I’m getting more and more nervous.. When I get to the security room, they tell me that they found 6 (yes 6) power packs and it’s not allowed! They bring my bag and tell me to open it.. of course this is as good time as any for my keys to NOT work with the locks. I tell them to break the locks and they tell me “No sir, we cannot do that, that is not allowed!”.

I finally got my bag opened and by this time I’m surrounded  by multiple army soldiers! I’m sweating profusely by this time.. I find 1, 2, 3 and tell them can I go now? They say no.. there are 6 and they want all of them found in the bag!.. So everything comes out of my packed bag and we find all 6 power cells. I even tell them.. they can confiscate them and they say to me: “No Sir, we cannot do that.. that is not allowed. You need to take your power cells as part of your carry on baggage”.

By this time, my exasperation level is beyond exhaustion.. I say “whatever, just give me something to carry the power cells in” and they oblige.. Keep in mind by this time the time is approaching departure and my daughter is on board and I’m in the bowels of the airport.. Fun right?

So the soldier escorts me back to my gate and I have to go through security a third time and finally get on the plane.. Picture this.. me sweating profusely and my daughter asking me “what happened Dad, they were announcing that the flight was delayed due to a baggage issue with a passenger”.. Can you guess who that was? Me!

We finally take off and by this time I’m just drained of all my life. I vowed that I will never fly Air India again.. to save a few hundred dollars.

Lesson to be learned here: Don’t assume that you know the rules of baggage when it comes to travel to India.. and listen carefully to the rules!

So basically, overtime I traveled in India by air, I had different issues.. I guess I just need to stay local!

India Trip – Don’t Lose that Boarding Pass!

I took a few weeks off from my India trip blog, but before I forget.. this one is good and I’ll remember this for a long time!

When we were returning from Goa to Mumbai by Air.. this is an amusing (it wasn’t funny when it happened – trust me)…

I passed through security final security check point and my carry on bag was pulled aside for “questionable content”.. I had some small scissors in a case as part of my overnight stuff. Remember this is has been in my bag since we came to India and it was not flagged in ANY security check points neither in US nor on the flight TO Goa..

So I said to the security guy.. go ahead and take the scissors.. as I had forgotten that I even had them. They removed the offending item and I was on my way.. with my carry on bag.. Of course this is where the fun begins.

I met my daughter and we were getting some snacks pre-flight and I ask her whether she has my boarding pass and she of course says “NO dad.. you have your own pass!”. Of course I did not have it! I had left it behind at the security check point.. and in being flustered at the bag check.. I had left for the gate w/o the boarding pass.

We went to the gate and asked for a duplicate pass and of course.. the gate agent said “We cannot print  you a new pass, you will have to go BACK and get a new pass at the checkin gates”.. Panic sets in.. Keep in mind this airport is ultra modern with all the amenities you want except #IndigoAir cannot print boarding passes at their gates!

The agent tells me to go back to security check point and see if the boarding pass was pulled aside.. I race back to security and of course it’s not there.. The security officials send me to the customer security desk.. monitored by the military.. I go over to the security desk and explain to them my situation (and the officer was very very patient and helpful I must say)… he was aghast that the gate agent asked me to go back through security to get another duplicate from the check in gate agent at the front of the airport!

After I tell him my sad stupid mistake.. he asks me to go back to the gate and get the gate agent.. so I race back to the gate and ask the gate agent to come to the security desk.. so now we both go back to the security desk and she says again.. “Customer must get new boarding pass from check in desk at front of the airport”.. The army officer goes ballistic and says.. “No.. he is the customer.. you go to the front and get him a duplicate”.. After a few minutes of back and forth… the gate agent finally agrees to have a duplicate boarding pass sent back through security  gate.. so I can board my flight!

This wait was about 15 minutes.. whereas the gate agent said they would print the duplicate and be here in 2 to 5 minutes.. Well of course this was not the case.. So here I am sweating profusely at my stupidity for losing my boarding pass after security check.. as well a quite bit embarrassed. By this time my daughter is texting me as our boarding time is approaching for our flight to Mumbai is approaching…

Finally the Indigo Air customer service agent comes and gives me my duplicate boarding pass.. I snatch it and make a beeline to the gate. Can you guess what happens next???

My daughter and I are boarding at the gate and the gate agent (a new gate agent).. says “Sir you cannot board.. Your boarding pass is not security stamped!”.. So the gate agent tells me to “run back to security and get the boarding pass security stamped.. Let me lay out this scenario.. the distance from the gate to the security check point is at least 1/10 of a mile..

So now my daughter boards and I sprint back to the security check.. I ask the military official to stamp the boarding pass.. and he just looks at me in disbelief and and refuses to stamp my pass.. By this time.. I’m sweating profusely and my NY attitude is surfacing with multiple choice words about to be expounded by my vocabulary..

Luckily the security desk guy (again.. I must say this officer was totally amazing!).. sees my distress and comes over and tells the other guy to stamp the pass.. I guess he had rank.. so the security reluctantly stamps the boarding pass.. and I race back to the gate to board the flight finally!

Now lessons to be learned here:

  • Never ever assume that security in Indian Airports is consistent
  • Never ever let go of your boarding pass when you pass through security check in India.. Of course.. there is NO cellphone boarding passes.. so you are always dealing with paper!
  • Remain calm.. always say to yourself —> “This is India and you are wrong.. as they are just following their directions”.. this will absolutely nullify any anger and panic you are feeling
  • Security at Airports is very very tight… If you don’t pass through multiple security check points with the same information.. something is very very wrong.. The terrorism threat in India is taken very very seriously!
  • Stay Calm! After all you are the one at fault. even if what is the norm in America.. you cannot expect this level of normalcy in India.. even if technologically India has really surpassed America (i.e. Dual Sims Phone are the norm in India.. we don’t have ANY Dual sims phone in US!)
  • Remember that even though technology is superior in India.. they are still living in the paper world with process!
  • Always, Always, Always.. make sure your carry on bags don’t contain anything that may cause you grief.. Well how would  I know that my cuticle scissors that I’ve been taking everywhere would be flagged at this airport??

After I got on the plane.. I did a silent prayer and told my daughter of the whole episode.. She of course was laughing so hard that tears were coming out.. Well what more can you expect??

So my next post will talk about what happened with Air India on the way back to India. Again.. totally my fault.. but who knows what is can happen when in India..

Big Fat Indian Wedding in Mumbai

When I say I was overwhelmed by the wedding in December, it is an understatement. After we settled in, there was constant activity at my cousins house for the wedding preparations. Every day there was activity, more family visiting, more ceremonies, more rehearsals for the the festivities (Pre-wedding and wedding).

For 5 days we didn’t even leave the general vicinity of the house we were staying in. Shopping, eating, shopping, eating, dance rehearsals, wedding preparations and daily evening festivities were the order of the week. For these days passed so quickly, that I felt like I was living in a different world. So this was what it meant to have a real Indian wedding!

We were fortunate that we had purchased a cell phone with totally “free” service so we could communicate with the outside world. Keep in mind as a foreigner this kind of purchase has to be done by a native. For approximately $80 I got a phone which had dual Sims and unlimited data, voice and text messaging. Outstanding!

We were able to get currency exchange at the local market (thankfully), so we were able to spend cash freely. Keep in mind, the de-monitization issues were still visible everywhere. No money at ATMs and getting change when you do spend money was not easy.

With every day wedding activities and shopping, by end of day, we were exhausted and just wanted to sleep. Keep in mind of the first day or so we were both having jet lag issues, so sleep was a commodity!

Anyway.. we survived and back to the wedding preparations:

The love within the family for each other and their togetherness was absolutely genuine. What I realized is that family is family no matter if you are in India or outside the country. First and second generation cousins who had never met each other were spending hours upon hours and days together and enjoying each others company! Every day was a blast! When you have a large family like mine (I have like 17 first cousins), and of course these cousins have their kids!

Generation 1 (me and my cousins) and Generation 2 (the kids of my cousins) were so amazing and so in tune with what needed to get done for the wedding. There were three major event preparations happening simultaneously.

  1. My aunt’s 80th birthday celebration and the wedding preparations. Two nights before the wedding was my Aunt’s 80th birthday celebration. This was  a dual event as in addition the the birthday celebration, there were simultaneous Henna being applied to all the women and girls that were part of the wedding celebration!
  2. Dance Rehearsals for the Dance party (Sangeet) the day before the wedding ‘
  3. Wedding preparations (including all Hindu religious pooja’s  and food preparations on a daily basis

All of the above was going on in the same house we were staying!

My Aunt’s birthday celebration was a huge success. She had no idea about the party and she was absolutely overjoyed. For me it back fond memories of my mother and how great it would have been to see her here enjoying her younger sister’s 80th birthday party!

The night before the wedding was the Sangeet (singing and dances) celebration at a hotel near to where we stayed. OMG, the preparations, the dance rehearsals (your’s truly did perform a dance – which we will not discuss further), and the performances at this event were a sight to be seen. Let’s just say the alcohol was flowing and and everyone was having a great time!

The next day was the wedding! This wedding was an all day affair that included wedding and reception. There must have easily been a combined of about 500 to 750 people at both events. Of course my cousins and our huge family out staged everyone at the wedding and reception. We are absolutely a loud bunch of people! Someone called me their ring leader,  yet I do resemble that remark!

To see a wedding like this is kind of overwhelming! To see cousins and family you have not seen in years is such a joy and you get a sense of belonging. This is something I absolutely feel at times here. I really don’t have any close relatives that are in NJ and my cousin in California is quite a distance away.

Pre-wedding  shopping that my daughter and I did was endless. My daughter and I had to buy our wedding outfits and even though it was pretty straight forward, the choices were amazing. As I had said in my other posting, everything was just a taxi ride away at the local market area in Vile Parle East. Even after converting into dollars the purchases were a tremendous bargain!

By the time we got home from the wedding reception, we were exhausted!

The day after the wedding, my daughter and I took a taxi tour of Mumbai.. This was amazing! The crowds, traffic and the sights and sound of Mumbai was visual and audio overload! Let me leave details on this for another post!

The wedding celebration my daughter and I experienced, is something that neither one of us will forget for a long long time. It was exhilarating to spend time with family and to see the love that my family showed towards each other was something I have NEVER experienced.

To say that this wedding was “A big fat Indian Wedding” is an understatement, but from what I understand, most weddings in India are like this!

 

 

 

 

 

India Trip- Mumbai Airport

When we went to India, we arrived in Mumbai Airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport). This airport is really impressive. Be prepared to walk, this is truly an impressive airport.

When I came here 6 years ago, the airport used to be called Sahar Airport, and it was un-impressive. The design and architecture of this airport now is very impressive. The airport is spacious  and comfortable but let me warn you.. you will walk and walk and walk a substantial distance from the gate to the Immigration area.  I estimated that I had to walk at least a 1/4 of a mile..

Immigration is where the fun starts.

If you don’t know what you are doing (and I’m one of those people), you are guaranteed to go to the wrong lines. In India, you have Indian Nationals, OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) and Visa Holders (me!).

Each of the above has a separate line and you can easily spend an hour on each of these lines as I had to do on two of the lines. The OCI Line for my daughter and the Visa line for me. Of course her line was pretty efficient, but the fun was on my line. I was redirected to the “special” line for Visa Holders.

BTW, you should make sure you print out your e-Visa as this paperwork is absolutely essential.. Otherwise you will not be able to enter India! We almost lost this paper copy of my e-Visa in Newark, as it fell out of our passport folder.. Luckily, I picked it up from the floor at Newark Airport!

In each of the visa lines, there are plenty of stations for visa processing, BUT only a few are  actually manned.. Maybe this was a slow work day?

On my e-visa line, after waiting 45 minutes for the 2 manned stations, I finally got to the counter. My visa was in order.. but of course, they wanted to take retinal scans as well as fingerprint me. Security is a great thing when things work well. I realized quickly that the fingerprint scanner was not working well at all. I was asked to put wax on my fingers to get a better read.. of course the container that the agent gave me didn’t have any wax!

After about 10 minutes of sweat (mine), somehow, I was stamped on my paper e-Visa and allowed to enter India! Both hands were fingerprinted and a retinal scan was done as well.

To get to your baggage, you nave to exit thru the Duty Free Shop. Onward to Baggage Claim!

We get our bags, and I decide to get some local currency.. Bad Idea! Remember the word de-monitization. There were limits on how much US Currency I could convert. I could only convert $40.

Finally we get out and we need to two floor up to get our ride.. Elevators  are a commodity. It took us about 45 minutes as we had to wait among my fellow traveler’s as we patiently waited for the two elevators.

In retrospect, I was really impressed with the size and comfort level of the airport. The inefficiency of the immigration lines need to be addressed. When you see this airport you see the efforts that the Indian Government has made in making the Airport comfortable.

Just make sure you are wearing your walking shoes!