By Agnel Pereira - Team Mangalorean
Mangalore, March 26: All the festivities in Doha and Bahrain might have delayed the maiden Doha-Bahrain-Mangalore flight, but the enthusiasm of the passengers showed no signs of any let down.
Your correspondent with Iqbal Manna - Team Mangalorean Doha
In a colourful ceremony at the Bahrain International Airport, put together by the wonderful efforts of Bahrain Civil Aviation Authorities and Air India office in Bahrain, the beautiful ladies and the energetic youngsters of Kannada Sangha Bahrain, clad in beautiful costumes, welcomed Captain Avinash Chikte and Co-pilot Ramesh Kumar with flowers and broad smiles that are so much affiliated to the friendly Mangalorean people. It was indeed a great feeling to be with two Yakshagaana artistes, one youngster clad in the Air India Maharaja costume and the Bharatha Natyam artistes all added colour to the historic moment.
Captain Avinash in the cockpit
While all of what took place at the VIP Gate 11 of the Bahrain International Airport has already been reported on this website with all the wonderful unmatched picture coverage, what took place inside the aircraft was simply amazing. It's with great pleasure this correspondent brings to you the wonderful experience of flying Air India Express with a crew so wonderful. While the beautiful smiling faces of air-hostesses Nidhi, Meena, Manju and Simone took care of the few passengers who chose to fly this historic flight, their warm reception and prompt service pleased all the passengers. So what if this no-frills airline did not offer anything to eat, passengers were mighty pleased with this experience for the first time that was taking them to their hometown directly from their places of work in the Arabian desert.
Simone, Nidhi, Meena and Manju
In a very few moments, the flight was converted into a jolly-riding place of Mangaloreans - who not only chose to speak their own languages, but also tried to teach their languages to the lovely north Indian hostesses on board the IX 243/814. Captain first flew us at 35,000 feet as usual, but seeing the unusual turbulence at that level, soon reduced the height to 31,000. When Co-pilot Ramesh Kumar came out, we duly complained for flying full flight in seatbelts, Captain Avinash had to announce that despite his wish to take the seatbelt sign off, turbulence returned to haunt the first time fliers.
All of the fun began when Captain Avinash Chikte welcomed the passengers in Konkani, a language he heard from fellow passengers at the VIP Gate 11, but a language that is not too far from this Pune born Captainís Marathi background. While this Correspondent wrote out the welcome announcements in 4 languages (Konkani, Tulu, Kannada and Beary all written in English script) for Nidhi to make, but Nidhi decided its too much for her to learn all these languages in one shot, so she invited your correspondent to make the announcements himself and duly took Captainís permission to do so!
And there he was, your correspondent, holding the announcement phone, to the delight and surprise of all the Mangaloreans from Doha and Bahrain, making fluent announcements in Kannada and Tulu and then introducing the multi-lingual background and rich culture of the Mangaloreans to the Western and North Indian crew of Air India Express. Well, the airhostesses were truly amused by this proficiency in Mangalorean languages, they duly learnt the diversity of the location that they would soon be landing.
Then a half hearted attempt was made to play Antakshari by the passengers with the famous Yekka Sakka song, but it lost out of steam as the Gulfie Mangaloreans appeared to have gone a little blank with the hometown languages with all the glitz and glamour of flying this historic flight! Whenever someone tried singing Hindi songs were asked to shift to one of the Mangalorean languages.
It was also amazing that I met this man, Zubair after 32 years as fellow passenger on this historic flight. We needed this flight to take place to meet again. Joyce had sent Mangalorean.com placard with the right person with right spirit. Mrs Veni Maroly, resident of Marigudi Urwa, a leading lady in many associations in Doha (and previously in Dubai) was also there. It was also a moment to meet another childhood friend Salaam from Mannagudda area of Urwa locality. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet for Mangaloreans living in Doha and Bahrain through this flight. I am sure many more will meet after decades through this flight in the coming weeks and months
With all the fan fare on mid air, the delay at Doha and Bahrain due to multiple reasons, largely due to the festive arrangements at the Bahrain Airport VIP gate no. 11 and some runway work in progress in Bahrain, meant that many of the Mangaloreans were walking out of the Bajpe International Airport at midnight. While the people close to Bajpe were not really bothered, this Correspondent felt for all those who had to reach their homes at a distance Ė from Kundapur on one side and Manchi in Vittal taluk on the other. I have no idea of the people who had to travel down south to the northern districts of Kerala.
Beautiful airhostesses Nidhi and Meena with Iqbal Manna and Co-captain Ramesh Kumar
At the end of all this, to be treated by your own people at Bajpe International Airport just goes to show the kindness of fellow Mangaloreans ready to assist any people, especially the visitors traveling across the seas. They are already struggling to put in order the limited resources at the existing airport building to handle the manifold of the international flights all landing one after the other at Bajpe International Airport. There were all officials from the airport, more specifically Mr Vasudeva the hard working and achievement oriented head of this tiny airport. Your correspondent did not miss the opportunity to thank him for all the hard work that he has put in that has helped many Mangaloreans in the Gulf to land in their hometowns with utmost ease.
It was also wonderful to see His Excellency, Mr Balakrishna Shetty, the Ambassador of India to Bahrain to be meeting the passengers flying in from Bahrain. His Excellency received Mr Rajkumar, the president of Kannada Sangha, plus a hug for your correspondent and a greeting for all the other passengers. His Excellency then boarded the flight on its return leg back to Bahrain.
With all this happening, who would feel not happy for such a wonderful opportunity provided by the Air India Express? What a historical flight that was, truly worth every Dinar paid for it. Everyone coming out of the airport was mighty pleased, no matter of their remaining journey to reach their remote homes.
To summarise, it was an unbelievable experience. Your correspondent is signing off at 2.30 am of 26 March 2007, sitting with all his near ones at home, completing this report for you all, dear readers. Donít miss any opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of a friendly crew and please donít crib for small troubles that you may face, the larger benefits are too much to be ignored.
Salaam from Qatar, holding a baby sized doll for his daughter on her birthday today.
Mr Zuber holding the "Proud to be Mangalorean" placard that was given to him by Joyce Alvares at Doha airport.
Rajkumar with the Mrs Asha Shetty (wife of Mr Shantaram Shetty, GM, Ramee Group, Bahrain) & family after alighting at Mangalore
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