I had been invited to India, Mumbai again, in January, to attend the huge OTM, whcih stands for Overseas Travel Mart. Over 500 exhibitors, and 10,000 visitors.. I was a Hosted Buyer coming from Australia. My flights were provided on Air India, I had never flown with this carrier, but I was excited at coming back again, to my beloved India, but at the same time.. filled with second thoughts> actually I tried to postpone my flight, but wasn’t possible.
The organizers just were so shoddy in giving forth vital information. I had three additional nights, other than the two the sponsor were providing at the Grand Hyatt.
And i had paid for these three, at a fantastic rate. – I was happy!
The night before i flew, I was informed, the first night of my pre-paid accommodation could not be, but I would be refunded this night. The organizers were most sincerely sorry. but it is what it is.
So I arrived in Bombay Airport at 11.30pm after a flight to Delhi connection. I knew one lady coming on the same flight. I had my one year India Visa in my passport, and I whizzed though customs, found my pick up, which I had organised though my partners in India. Grace joined us, because her transfer had not arrived. We soon were heading into the hectic Bombay traffic, even though it was way after 12,30 am.
I was ushered to the 5th floor, brand new apartment block, only opened 10 days ago. The towels not even been washed in. They were not absorbent at all, and pure white. Pure white towels in India, Impossible!
Hardly any sleep, due to time zone, and early pick up. We had to transfer our luggage, and then the transfer would take us onto our first meetings at OTM.
We met a few other delegates, all disgrumbled at having this shoddy accommodiaotn, although brand new, the plumbing didnt work! There was no hot water. The Tv controls had no batteries, but the bed linen was fabulous.
Left our luggage and then did the up and down this huge big Expo Center in Bombay. It was a road trip of 30 mins through the traffic as well!
Managed to complete 13 meetings. Had provided buffet lunch at 1.15 and by then, the jet lag and the no sleeping had overtaken me. So, three of us headed back with an Uber driver. Only Ru 149 all the way.. that’s approx $2!
Tried to check in.. oh no.. there’s no room for you. I had anticipated checking into the lovely Grand Hyatt, but on approaching the check in counter was informed there was no room for me. i now know, what Joseph and Mary felt like, and she was due to have her baby soon! I nearly had a baby as well!
Sit and wait there. Phone the organizers.. who hummed and haggled.. and eventually I was transferred to another hotel! I left my new friends at Grand Hyatt, and felt very disappointed i was not staying there!
But… on checking in.. I was at the very opulent extravaganza hotel Sahara Star – been ‘bumped’ there, or really given an upgrade, but i didn’t think it was an upgrade. It was fabulous. I took 100 pics – enjoyed room service – crashed early.
I had another early transfer with my luggage back to the Grand Hyatt. Yes.. I could now check in for the remainder of my stay in Bombay, and what was more, my full paid amount would be refunded to me.
I just had to go with the flow! No other option!
My transfer arrived on time. We rushed through the traffic, but which way was he travelling? Nothing looked familiar! Eventually he stopped at the Hyatt Regency which was in the complete opposite direction of the Grand Hyatt!
No, no.. I informed him. So back in his taxi I climbed with my luggage.
Through more horrendous traffic, more added now. tuk tuk, busses, mopeds, kids walking to school, taxi’s, trucks filled the vast 9 lane roads, though there really were no lanes. No road markings.. and the Indian drivers fill the spaces and aim, with their hooters.
Finally got to the Grand Hyatt – dropped my bag and headed back to the OTM meetings. I had a scheduled 30 meetings to accomplish.
All went superbly. Met so many very interesting travel providers, from Egypt, Thailand, Greece, India Air, I walked and took a 100 pics of myself at every opportunity.
Finally, feeling rather peckish, I went for my mobile phone in my little velvet cross body handbag. No.. feel again.. don’t panic.. look again, but it was not there! Find a chair to scour through all the pamphlets, and flyers, and cards and info sheets I had been handed. No.. itt was not there. Find my friends at lunch.. Repack my handed out sheets, and flyers. . No my mobile phone had gone!
That sinking feeling is one I will not forget. Where, how?.. when?.. I retraced my steps. I had my picture taken with Mowgli at the MP stand. That’s where Jungle Book was written! Ask them, not they hadn’t seen it. To the Leela stand. No sorry they had not seen it. Eventually feeling very deflated – i climbed into the drivers car headed back for the Grand Hyatt, without my phone!
Checked in and then started the telephone calls to my man, and daughter and my supplier – tear were so close and that due to the fact that I had not had lunch. i was totally flat!
I was able to cancel my Sim card and that made me feel a bit better. I ran a deep soaking rose salted bath, and let my tears flow! I had no pictures, no mobile. No contact with the outside world.
I was alone in Bombay with 22 million other souls.
I know what would be good. A good pasta and a Old Monk Rum and coke – so headed to the Italian restaurant.
Now you’re probably wondering where my subject heading comes from?..
Well, this morning i ordered a driver again, to take me back to the OTM to find my mobile. I was so sure I would find it. I retraced my steps, no, sorry, no mobile phone.
Back to the organised stand – security was called – they would check. No, nothing has been handed in. I just knew, finding my phone would be mission impossible but at least all the stones had been upended.
Oh, said the security, you have to report it to the locla police station. Yes, I agreed. Would they help me to go there please?.. yes, sure. and after lots of backward forward head nodding and bobbling, I was asked if its OK to ride on the back of a motor bike!
Through that traffic that wakes the sleeping, and gives nightmares to tourists, but that traffic that Indians maneuver and manage so well. Here’s the pics to prove I was in Mumbai – oh, there were a few uploaded to f/book and Instagram.
I love that Indian quote.. it’s not yet over, until its over.. and its not yet over. I have three more nights here in my beloved India.
Did this experience put me off returning to India?.. never.. I will be back in March, 2019. jippee..