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Clutching passport, Emirates 1st class ticket, bags, grab a trolley, rush into the new international terminal. Hurrying up, navigating security check of ID and ticket at the entrance, finding where our check-in counter is… impatiently waiting…
Except it’s actually a fake ticket, fake flight and in reality just a fascinating simulated airport experience!
I, along with some 1600 others, spent our Saturday helping test out the new Mumbai International airport terminal. When my friend asked if I could play the role of a weary jaded international passenger… the obvious response was ‘Hell ya!’
And that I did with other friends – including one who got to pretend to be sick. Except she actually was sick with a slight fever and generally feeling crappy. I, naturally, got to play the role of a concerned friend, yelling at the poor lady trying to check us in while the systems were down as we waited and waited for medical attention. I used my imperious best “This is simply not acceptable! Who is your superior?” All duly recorded on camera… I groan to think of how my manufactured nastiness will become fodder for training years hence on how to placate upset travellers.
For those not familiar with Mumbai’s airport – there are a few interesting elements to keep in mind. While the volume of passengers for the international airport may not seem like much in the global rankings, it is quite remarkable considering both domestic and international share one main runway in the middle of Mumbai’s suburbs.
Mr GVS Reddy, developer of the project has been quoted as describing the complexity of building a new terminal while both the existing airports remain fully functional as being akin to “… conducting an open heart surgery on a marathon runner, when he is in the middle of a marathon.”
With a vision of making the airport one of the best in the world, Terminal 2 has been built with a four-level terminal with an area of over 4,39,000 sq. mts. With new taxiways and aircraft parking designed to cater to 40 million passengers annually, it certainly has promise.
One of the walls which is 1.2 km in length and 18 feet in height will have the largest public art programme in the world as 6,000 pieces of Indian art from the 8th to the 19th Century will be curated on these walls. The sneak peek was definitely one of the highlights and while none of the photos below are mine (yes – I strictly followed the ‘do not photograph’ policy of the test participation rule), there were definitely a few highlights and lowlights.
Highlights? The flower ceiling lights and art – don’t miss the wrestler’s (ahem) torso with a reasonably endowed ‘package’ in a bright red loin cloth! (Again.. apologies no pics!)
Lowlights? The lack of power outlets in boarding gate, longish walk from arrivals to immigration and the toilets. I’m sorry but in a new airport, who on earth decided to have stairs to the Indian toilet leaving zero room for a strolly? Bad enough with the Western style toilet which is also small and where your bag can perhaps perch on your lap, but I’m sorry, squatting and holding a carry-on bag do NOT work!
All in all it was a fun but exhausting day. Who knew it would be so tiresome to pretend to be traveling!
- Economic Times: Mumbai’s Airport’s T2 set to outshine Delhi’s T3
- Rediff: Swanky T2 Terminal
- Wikipedia: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
Its my first trip home to Mumbai since landing a super cool project in Jakarta. I managed to arrange a flight route (via Bangkok) that permitted me to arrive in time for a friend’s new gallery / event space launch. We reached just as the music began, what joy to be serenaded by a dear friend, munch on macaroon treats, sip wine and generally enjoy terrific company in a convivial atmosphere. Our friend has done well with this new venture!
For those unfamiliar with Bandra, it is a special neighbourhood – a catholic bastion with strong proud traditions that has become rather popular with ex-pats – including those seeking a more ‘regular’ life not bolstered by insane high salaries and expense accounts. You know the type – locally hired foreigners who have chosen to stay and forgo all the ‘extras’ that come with a pampered ex-pat nomadic life!
Particularly the immediate area around Veronica and Chapel road, one can still find old bungalows and a sense of community. The space I found myself just a few hours from landing is one such bungalow… That was falling into complete disrepair until along came friends with a huge labour of love and rather more money than they planned – transforming it into a new avatar – an enchanting space to enjoy for eclectic events and show off funky furniture.