Bangalore Bath Tissue

Trip Start Feb 23, 2009
Trip End Mar 18, 2009

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Flag of India  , Karnataka,
Thursday, March 5, 2009

     Once again, the mosquitos thoroughly enjoyed eating me that last night in Udaipur. Our room was very hot, and I slept in the window box with a fog of bug spray around me, but Jae gasped the next morning when she saw all the bites on me.

    We had an early flight to catch, so we got up just as the mosque was broadcasting it's call to prayer. Not wanting to disturb other people sleeping, I whispered a request to Miles to take the suitcase down to the taxi. He answered, "I'm sorry, Father. I cannot. I've been called to prayer."

    (At this point, I'd like to brag about my traveling family. They've been completely punctual and organized, responsible for their belongings, patient when it was called for, and enthusiastic about trying everything. At home, Miles can go months without getting to school on time. But give him a plane ticket and tell him he has to be up at 4.30am, and he pops awake like a jack-in-the-box. And Jae is amazingly organized with the suitcase and the small pharmacy of medications we're carrying. She can pack 23 kilos of luggage into a matchbox, and do it in about 5 minutes.)

    Most of our flights inside India were on Kingfisher Airlines, a low budget we-try-harder company that we mostly were impressed by. They sped us quickly thru the procedures at Udaipur airport. I noticed two glaring deficiencies at this brand-new airport: there is no wifi access for computers, and the single departure lounge has no place to plug in for power.

    We were on our way to Sri Lanka, but one of our connections was in Bangalore (now officially renamed Bengaluru, but you knew that didn't you.) The Bengaluru Airport is also new...I think it opened last May. It looks very modern, although birds have already taken roost in some of the high beams. Jae, Miles and I had to go thru Immigration there, and then we were in the International Departure Lounge when I wanted to use a bathroom.

    I walked into the Men's room and found the attendant wiping the floors. There were two stalls, and only one was available, but I noticed as I went in that there was no toilet paper. I got the attendant's attention, and showed him the problem, and he handed me a paper towel. I indicated that I wasn't happy with that option, and with a big smile he folded the paper towel, propped it up on the empty toilet paper roll, and indicated that I should go in. Although he didn't speak English, I said, "I'm sorry, that won't work for me," and I left.

    I looked around the International departure lounge, but there were no other men's toilets. I had seen some before we went thru Immigration, so I returned to the security barrier and asked the guard if there was any way I could use the toilet on the other side and go thru security again. The guard didn't understand me, so he called another guard. The second guard didn't understand me either, so they called a third security person who spoke English and remembered me from when I went thru the Immigration barrier. Nevertheless, he couldn't let me thru the barrier again, so he called the Airport Manager.

    The Airport Manager showed up quickly, and when I explained the problem, he said he'd investigate. We started walking, and on the way he called the manager in charge of the departure lounges, who met us in front of the offending washroom. The two of them had a conversation with the washroom attendant, and then the Airport Manager said to me, "I'm sorry, it seems we've been running short of toilet paper. They'll get you some from the basement. It'll just be two minutes." Then he left.

    When the Airport manager was gone, the manager in charge of the departure lounges started scolding the washroom attendant. Meanwhile, he was dialing and re-dialing his cell phone, trying to get an answer from somebody in the basement. When he finally got an answer, he gave instructions, and assured me that it wouldn't be much longer.

    By this point it had become a stubborn crusade for me, and I just wanted to see how long it would take to get a roll of toilet paper. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Just when I was ready to go find the Airport Manager again, a woman came out of a service door and headed to the washroom with a huge black plastic garbage bag. When she reached the washroom, she handed the attendant what she had in the huge bag: a single roll of toilet paper.

    The manager in charge of the departure lounges started scolding her, mostly in English. "This poor man has had to wait almost 10 minutes!"

    "Actually it was more that fifteen minutes," I corrected him.

    "You see? He has had to wait more than fifteen minutes! Please sir, you may go into the toilet now." When I got into the stall I could still hear him scolding the woman. And when I came out of the stall, the attendant offered me a paper towel with a big smile.

    I suppose that qualifies as a happy ending, except that our itinerary takes us thru Bangalore/Bengaluru again in about a week. I'm going to try very hard to use that restroom that's BEFORE you go thru Immigration.
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