London Heathrow, Thursday 10-5-95 2230 local (Z+1)
Well, things are going a little better. Actually all of this is a tempest in a tea pot - nothing (I hope) of consequence is at stake. Crew Scheduling can't point to me as the only offender, and if they did, it would be embarrassing to them that they sent me off after four warnings from me.
Oh, yes, in case you're wondering what I'm talking about, it's the continuing lack of an Indian visa on my part. Anyway, this morning bright and early I took "the tube" into London to the Indian Embassy. I got there at 0945, 15 minutes after their 0930 opening - there were already about 400 people in line. After being there for a few minutes, I discovered I was in the wrong line. I was in the line for people who had already obtained and filled out their forms. I found a smaller line, the one where you initially obtained your forms. That line was short, and in less than 10 minutes I had the forms and, unfortunately, the information that if I submitted everything by 1300 I could pickup up my visa the next day between 1700 and 1730. I walked outside to a phone booth and called crew scheduling. They said to forget that and head back to the hotel. A few minutes ago I talked to them again (AT&T has made money out of this. I call collect using USA Direct) and the plan is: commercial to Paris early in the morning, jumpseat on a Tower airplane tomorrow afternoon late to New Delhi, then in a few hours operate back to Paris. On the Tower airplane they're going to put me on the General Declaration as an additional crew member. Not exactly legal, but it's done and there won't be a problem. Thus I will enter India as an operating crew member, and operating crew members do not require a visa.
Some observations from the tube ride. Actually the signs call it "the underground", but everybody seems to refer to it as the tube. It's a little different from the New York subway. The seats are upholstered, the floor rather nice wood, and the cars are a little small and rounded at the top. Clearances between the train and the tunnel are very tight when it's underground. Everyone is very nice, very polite - no blaring ghetto blasters (unnecessary noise is prohibited). Unfortunately the one I was on stopped at every station, and there's not much distance between stations in some instances. It's also spendy, about $11 for the round trip ride. That same ride, distance-wise, would be $2.50 in New York.
The sun was out most of the day here, but it was cool. I went running after I got back from downtown, and I was uncomfortably cool in the wind when the sun was behind clouds. Went down to the hotel dining room to eat supper. The cheapest thing on the menu was 19 pounds, about $32. So, back to the room for my jacket and then down the street to the pub I ate at last night. It was almost exactly half for a good meal of mousacca. That's probably not spelled right.
A couple of observations on crew scheduling's actions during the day. At one point they told me go get on a plane that was leaving in 28 minutes. They had forgotten the time zone change - and these are supposed to be international crew schedulers. Another insisted a couple of hours ago that I was in Delhi, not London, because that's what the computer said. I don't know what rock she had been under. I'll be on the ground in Paris about 10 hours. I asked for a hotel; I'm entitled to one if on the ground over 5 hours. After puzzling over the request the crew scheduler finally said something like, "Well, contact our rep in Paris and see what he can do." Right. At least I know that we do have a rep in Paris. I've even got his name and a phone number from a previous trip. My bet is though that I'm going to be spending all day in the terminal at Paris Charles de Gaulle. Oh, well. The bad thing, though, is that I'll get only a few hours of sleep in Delhi before having to operate back to Paris, but once I return to Paris I will SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP.
I was also successful in figuring out the hotel phone system and transmitting the previous letter. When I can establish communications, I always feel so much better. When I was in downtown London feeling discouraged, I used USA Direct and woke C.J. up around 0200 her time. It was good to hear her voice. Thank you, C.J. By the way, I got your reply to my birthday message. For anyone who doesn't know, C.J. had a birthday on the 3rd.
To bed now. I've got to get up at 0500...Terry