Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Travail Travels

I was travelling to Delhi and back by Indian Airlines/Air India. Of course, all government employees have to travel only by IA/AI.

As normally done by me, I took the earliest flight out of Bangalore at 6:15 am and planned to return by the 8:15 pm flight from Delhi. IA, in its own wisdom, has cancelled its most popular flight in the evening at 8:15 pm and changed it to an AI coded flight. If you are wondering what the big deal is because AI and IA have been merged and both depart from a single terminal, read on.

After landing in Delhi and attending the meeting, during lunch at 2 pm, I get a “pleasant” phone call that my AI flight leaving Delhi at 8:15 pm has been cancelled and they have rebooked me by the flight leaving Delhi at 4:30 pm. Of course, they did not bother to even think whether any meetings (especially in the government sector) start before 11 am or end before 5 pm. I told them that I have no way of returning by the 4:30 flight and they should rebook me to some other flight on the next day or cancel the 8:15 pm booking. The person on the phone gave me a toll free number to call. When I called there, I was told that I had booked online on the IA website but was flying AI flight, so the PNR number of the ticket changes and they can not do anything about it. So, they gave me a toll free number of AI. When I called there, I was told that they do not know the PNR number for the ticket. After calling IA and AI back and forth, I finally get the two PNR numbers of my ticket, as noted by IA and AI.

But the fun does not end there. Armed with multiple PNR numbers, booking numbers and IC/AI coded flight numbers, I call the IA website office, which is NOT a toll free number, to cancel the booking for my return flight. They say that they will charge me cancellation fees because, according to them, the AI flight has not been cancelled. She even helpfully informs me that I can report by 6:15 pm and board the AI flight. Just to be sure, I call the AI office and find that the flight has indeed been cancelled but they have not informed IA and they have no online mechanism to do so. So, I call back the non-toll free number, tell them that the AI office has confirmed the flight is cancelled and they should go ahead and refund my ticket. However, the person refuses because, according to her, the flight is still on. But the person on the helpline helpfully tells me that I can charge the cancellation fee to the government because they can mail me a receipt for the cancellation. Apparently, they do not understand the irony that they are charging cancellation fees for a flight they cancelled and assume that everyone who travels by IA/AI are government employees. Maybe if they behave like this, it will soon become a reality.

Friday, November 12, 2010


There is a vehement reaction (both for and against) on the downgrading of cricket player Yuvraj Singh's contract. Cricketers like Irfan Pathan and RP Singh have lost their contracts with the cricket board. However, this is not the time for these players to relax or complain. Because if they do, they will be called to handle baggage by Air India.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Three articles

Three articles in this issue of current science are interesting reads.

Old toddy in new bottles

More about irreverence

Scientometric comparison of Indian institutions with other international institutions: a iCX map representation

The first and third articles refer to my work. I wish I had thought of the iCX map representation of my data, but then I am happy that Gangan Prathap used my data to graphically represent what I wanted to convey.

Recently, I was happy to see an eminent author in the field of photocatalysis, mention my papers, say their group were inspired by this and then extend the work to a different level. You only wish you had thought of it, but then you are happy someone did !