Marble inlay from Agra Fort


Airport Chaos cont...

Our return trip was also not without its stressful and even frightening moments. Despite the fact that I had sent my passport details to the tour company at least three times, the family name appearing on my tickets was Michael's, not mine. Not only had the tour company assumed that my papers were in the same name as my husband's, they also assumed that we must have the same nationality, and my tickets claimed in bold letters that I was American. Personally I was quite surprised to get to Katmandu at all in these circumstances - people wandering around with tickets that are blatantly different to their passports are probably in breach of security. But when a check-in clerk sees a tour rep he knows, he issues a boarding pass without even looking at the passports, this is one of the advantages of having a tour rep at the airport.

At Katmandu, however, our guide dumped us in the departure hall, and of course we did not get through. I had one piece of paper with mine and my husband's name on it and at least this approximately convinced them that I was not a terrorist, illegal immigrant/emigrant or ticket thief. I was escorted to the airport manager's airport where I tried to appear suitably demure whilst this venerable old gentlemen in a white cap studied my documents. His decision was polite but firm - I must buy a new ticket, and get this one refunded. Mike made one of his customary ejaculations on being informed that we had to spend another $142 but I was serene in the knowledge that we had bought the tour using a Visa card, so if we didn't get refunded we could refund ourselves. Issuing a new ticket involved at least five people, and passed most of the time before boarding quite pleasantly.

This was not quite the end of our adventures. After an uneventful flight, the pilot informed the cabin crew to take their seats as we would be landing in 10 minutes. 45 minutes later we were still in the air, with no explanation forthcoming as to why. Not that our fellow passengers seemed to need one. The really rough turbulence we were flying through had them yelling and giggling like kids on a roller coaster. I'm not very fond of turbulence at the best of times and since I imagined at each moment that we must surely be close to the ground by now, I was even more disturbed. When we finally landed the grass on either side of the runway was completely flooded. It had rained hard in Delhi, in February, and had only just stopped. My legs were shaking, but my fellow passengers were out of their seats before the plane had even stopped taxying.

Epilogue: The rest of our 5 flights, which were internal, went like clockwork, despite having the wrong name on the tickets; and if the international airport at Delhi is notorious for its unpleasantness the national airport if one of the poshest I've ever seen anywhere. We got reimbursed for the ticket we bought with no trouble whatsoever in hard cash within about five days and it might have been sooner if we had not been out in the wilderness of Aurangabad.

The tour company did even better with my ticket for the Palace on Wheels. Not only did they stick to their idea that I must be American but they used my middle name as my surname and my surname ended up as the initial of my middle name. This could have been a disadvantage as we could have ended up in a twin-bedded car instead of a double bedded car (for not being married), but fortunately for us the saloon staff confused Grant and Glass anyway and gave us the double room belonging to Mr and Mrs Glass who could not protest since they didn't join the train till 3 days later.

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