I have loads and loads to write about my trip. So I guess the next 5 or 10 topics would be about my 10 day trip to India. Anyways this time I wanted to write about my first experience at our New Hyderabad Airport at Shamshabad, once again something named after Rajiv Gandhi and called as Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. I am weak in politics and dont really know what he has done to our state. But when ever there is something new built it has been named after Rajiv Gandhi in Congress Govt rule. Lets leave politics aside.
When I started from Singapore I knew I was going to land in the new airport this time. I was very excited and at the same time a bit nervous about the customs. I was carrying a DSLR and Handycam worth 1700SGD each. I packed my bags and started to Hyderabad on 16th May. Took the Singapore Airlines flight from Changi to Hyderabad. I had a nice time in flight as I was the only person in my 3 seat row. I always heard that if there was nobody in the row then we can relax my putting our legs on the seat. But I was a bit skeptical about that. After 30 mins people started doing this in the flight. So immediately even I did the same :).
I came to Hyderabad Airport by 1030PM. While landing I saw Hyderabad from top and it was simply superb. Previously I never got the window seat so couldnt really see this beauty of the city. While landing I was looking for the huge airport which was one huge thing and unlike anything you would have ever seen in India. I heard that current structure is supposed to be designed to handle 12 million passengers a year (current Hyderabad traffic is around 7 million passengers). When the whole airport is completely built it would be able to handle 40 million passengers a year, but that’s still quite a few years away.
I have landed and went for the immigration check looking at the lavish interiors. It was a huge steel structure. Just as I came out I the first thing I saw was the customs notified counter. This was something similar to what I have seen in Singapore. Then I realised that Singapore Airport also had 30% stake in this airport. As I was already carrying bottles so I didnt really wanted to go into the store.
This time the immigration check people were also friendly. At the security check the guy started scanning my hand bag in which I was carrying the cameras. He scanned them and wrote a slip about the cameras. I knew that this is the point where customs would come into picture. With that in mind I went to take my luggage. I saw some huge baggage claim areas and thought this was a stop to the long wait and long queues at the baggage counter. I always heard some complaints about the baggage being damaged in the check in. But after seeing this counter I thought things would have been handled smoothly. But to my horror and disgust both my luggage suitcases were damaged badly that I had to get 2 new bags while coming back.
After collecting the luggage while leaving out we have to give that slip given at the security check to a customs officer who would check if things are fine. Now things were not fine for me. He sent me to other officer who was sitting there smiling at me(thinking naya bakra mil gaya). This guy had a pan in his mouth and was in mid 50s who knew how to tackle guys like me.
Officer: What do you have in bag?
Me: DSLR and Camcorder
Officer: How much is the cost and show me the bills?
Me: 1700 dollars each( which was way high than what I was supposed to carry)
He started calculating something and said
Officer: Babu you are carrying goods worth more than 25000 rupees which is actually allowed. So you will have to pay 30% of the extra amount which comes to Rs. 26000.
I was shocked.
Me: Is there any other option. Why dont you pls think. These are my personal items and shall take them back while going.
Officer: You should read the site. You are allowed only goods worth 25000.
Me; Pls think again and tell me if there is anyother option.
He thinks a while and asks me
Officer: Ok gimme 10000
Again shocked do you really think that was an option. huh.
Me: Sir even that is not an option pls see if there is any other option with which I can get away.
THis time he doesnt think.
Officer: Ok babu. You leave your items here at the airport and while going I shall give them back to you.
Me: No no no how can I do that. I came for piligrimage trip and wanted to take the pictures. Anyways I said I had just 1000 rupees and 40SGD. So take that and sign it off.
He said OK for that. So finally I thought we never change and they never change and still we curse them for doing this.
After all this confusion and problems I went out and saw that my brother and cousins were waiting for me. I met them and told the story inside. Mean while I was just looking all over the airport and saw a huge parking lot available. I guess it would easily accomodate hundreds of cars. Then I asked my brother regarding how is the taxi system and all. The taxis are really good and they charge around Rs.15 per kilometer. That would be costly affair for the domestic travellers. Because the whole return ticket would cost around 5K and just the transfer from home-airport-home in taxi would cost around 1000 bucks. There is an alternative for this with the aero express bus which would cost just Rs.95 to some of the major destinations with in the city.
The major problem is the distance of the airport from the city. Currently it’ll take about 1 to 1.5 hours from Banjara Hills to reach the airport. The expressway is going to take ages to be ready. So if you’re planning day-trips to Hyderabad, think twice and plan when to start accordingly!!