I had asked Radhika at the prize ceremony if she could help me organise a taxi to the airport for early Tuesday morning - my flight back home was at 06.45. She kindly said she would come over to the Bowring on Monday and get me sorted out.
I felt very deflated on the bus back to the Bowring - this is fairly normal at the end of a tourney, but even more so because of my result. I did not feel like going out to eat so just started my next book and ate some of my remaining goodies from the previous evening. There was obviously a party being held somewhere on site - probably around the pool. I could distinctly hear the strong beat of 'Day-Oh Day-ay-ay-oh...' There was no way I would get to sleep before that ended despite feeling shattered so kept reading.
I felt a lot better in the morning and ventured along to breakfast at about 9.30. They remembered my standard order. I was not sure when Radhika was coming so went back to my rooms to pack and continue my book. At midday I decided to phone her as I wanted to go shopping at some point. I had no idea how to get an outside line or even if I could, so went over to reception to inquire. I was told how to get the operator, so went back to give it a go. The number I had obviously included the code as the operator said I could only make local calls. I said it was local and then I think they realised, and I was put through. Radhika said she would be over at 2.00. I had a call from her later saying she would be late - no problem, I was ploughing through the book by now.
Radhika arrived around 3.00 and took me over to an office within the Bowring to sort out my taxi. We decided that a 2 hour check-in allowance should be fine, so I was to be picked up at 4.30 am the next morning. We then went for a coffee and chat. She couldn't stay too long - had to pick up her daughter. I had asked where was the best place to buy local craft, and on departing was given directions to a state crafts outlet. Unfortunately it was a public holiday in Bangalore and when I reached it it was closed. However, most of the other shops were still open. I decided to be adventurous and try some of the smaller shops I had seen on my earlier wanderings.
As Bangalore isn't really a tourist destination yet I wasn't sure how much bartering was expected. In the first shop I tried I was told that the prices were fixed as it was an official outlet. I bought a reasonably priced black silk scarf with some nice gold embroidery, and decided to try some of the other shops. The girl in the next shop also tried to sell me a scarf so I said I had already bought one. She asked to see it to compare the price/quality, and told me I had got a bargain! The next shop showed me pashminas. I decided to look in several shops before deciding which to buy. I went back to the first shop to buy something I had seen for my mother-in-law now I knew they were well priced. In the shop next door I looked at more pashminas, and asked the price. It was about 50% more expensive than a previous shop. I told him so, and he asked about the quality. I said seemed the same to me, but I could go back to the other shop to check. He then said he would match the price and the bargain was struck.
In the evening I decided to splash out again at Koshy's. As I was drinking my coffee at the end of my meal one of the waiters sidled up to me with a big grin to enquire whether I was the British Scrabble champion. Rather than explain that I had been I just said yes :)
I got an early a night as I could, but could not sleep. Knowing I had to get up around 4 am meant that I just tossed and turned. I was up and ready to go by 4.30 am. I could see the taxi outside but no-one had come to get my bags. I shuffled out the door with them, only to see a man knocking on a door in the next block. I don't know if he had woken the occupants up but he came and took my bags to the taxi.
The roads were pretty clear at that time in the morning and I was at the airport by about 4.50. There was already a large queue to get in - hold baggage was being scanned on the way in. The queue moved reasonably quickly, and once inside the queue to check in was quite short. I proceeded through immigration and security only to find there was no currency exchange once through. There was nothing for it but to try to spend as much as I could in the duty free and gift shops inside. I bought Paul's birthday present and with the remaining cash a nice bangle for myself.
On the plane there was an announcement regarding security for on-going passengers as issued in the leaflet you were given at check-in. What leaflet!!! No liquids in bottles over 100ml were allowed in hand baggage. I called a steward for clarification as I had been given no leaflet. He apologised and said he would see if my luggage could be unloaded at Heathrow so that I could re-pack. Unfortunately he returned saying that the request had been denied. This actually was probably a good thing - I would have been held up at Heathrow waiting at baggage reclaim. I decided I would just remove my handbag and laptop from my hand baggage once at T1 and check the rest in. This worked out fine as I had a jacket and jumper to protect the more vulnerable objects, and it is a lot quicker retrieving luggage from a half empty domestic flight than a full international flight.
Paul was waiting for me when I arrived, and we were back home by 6.30 pm - 19.5 hours travelling from door to door.
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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