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The Trivandrum Airport departure experience

Phespirit reports - March 2005

As Phespirit prepared to leave southern India he reflected upon the thoroughly enjoyable time he'd spent in this wonderful corner of the world. He pledged that he would recommend, to anyone with the means, that they too should visit Kerala and experience the beautiful scenery, tropical climate and measured pace of life. His heart was still warm with benevolent feelings as he entered the international departure terminal at Trivandrum Airport. Two hours later, after the most infuriating and needlessly protracted check-in procedure he'd experienced anywhere in the world, Phespirit amended his view to one of not wishing the place on his worst enemies. He has calmed down a bit since then but would still caution anyone intending to pass through Trivandrum Airport that they should brace themselves for queues, bureaucracy, inefficiency and woeful organisation on a grand scale.

Having a population in excess of one billion, India must create the illusion of full employment by contriving layer upon layer of pointless jobs. This ensures that for every one person in post there are at least three other people either watching them or hindering them, and that no one person is responsible for more than a single task. It is definitively illustrated by the check-in ordeal at Trivandrum Airport, in which passengers are made to queue no fewer than eight times, each time culminating with the issuing, checking or double-checking of stamps, stickers, labels or markers.

Of course, whilst the check-in process may have been completed, further requirements to queue still lay ahead: a queue at the boarding gate desk, a queue to board the airport bus, a queue to board the plane itself. And having boarded, the last vestige of organisation finally broke down as hundreds of passengers simultaneously attempted to cram themselves and their excesses of luggage into the woefully inadequate spaces provided. From his vantage point at the back of the plane, Phespirit was able to observe how incompetence and stupidity were dispensed and dispatched in equal measure by passengers and crew alike.

International travel can be a thrilling, glamorous, escapist adventure ..... but not always.

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