This is basically just venting… So read at your own peril.
I left my hotel at 5am in Jaipur to make my flight to Muscat, Oman (layover on my way to Cairo). My experience trying to leave the country epitomizes my experience in India. Keep in mind that this was a relatively nice hotel I stayed in, (about $20 USD / night, which in India gets you western accommodations, as opposed to the $4 / night variety…) and employees act as guards or maybe for lack of a better place to sleep, they reside in common areas. Anyway, I had to wake up the employees sleeping on the floor in the lobby because the taxi that I had had the hotel set up didn’t show up, so I had to prod the hotel manager to call. Ten minutes later one showed up and proceeded to try to convince me that I had to pay him extra because I was flying internationally and it was a different airport that was further away, when in fact it was just the other terminal. Always trying to scam…
So I get to the airport, after only paying the original fare, and am not allowed in the door. I didn’t have a printout of my ticket or a PNR number (whatever that is) and they didn’t accept my confirmation email on my kindle, so I wasn’t allowed to enter any part of the airport. Some guy disappeared with my passport for 15 minutes before he finally came back after going to the ticket counter to verify that in fact I didn’t just show up at the airport as some tourist attraction… I proceed to the Oman Air desk and hand over my passport, and what a surprise, I’m actually booked on a flight and they didn’t have any purpose for some printout. I think the lady felt sorry for me, so I got upgraded to business class. I had platinum status on American Airlines for nearly two years and never once got upgraded; I love middle eastern airlines!
After checking in for my flight, I am directed to the departure form desk. I wait in line for at least ten minutes to have some guy fill out an immigration form containing only the basic information including name, passport, and flight numbers. Something I could have filled out in 45 seconds, someone got paid to do. I advance to the immigration desk and of course have to join a long line. I am waiting for about ten minutes and am second in line when the officer stands up, counts his forms, apparently decides he has met his quota and simply walks off without explanation, leaving me and the probably eight people behind me scrambling to join another line.
After finally making it through immigration I move to the security check point. A lone bright spot of the Indian airport experience was not having to remove my shoes. I proceeded to be frisked quite aggressively by hand. I have no idea why anyone in the US complains about the new security scanners in the US, standing in a chamber for five seconds is far better than being groped to the extent that a lone ten rupee note in my back pocket was felt and subsequently removed. After I received my three stamps on my boarding pass signaling that I had successfully completed the security check, I was allowed into the boarding room.
When they announced my flight, there was the typical Indian herd of people literally elbowing their way through, as if the seats weren’t pre-assigned or the plane was going to leave without them. I hang back to avoid this completely useless chaos and get stopped by the guard leading to the tarmac because my travel pillow’s luggage tag wasn’t visible. He didn’t check my passport or boarding pass, but the fact that my pillow’s documentation wasn’t in plain sight was cause for alarm…
Luckily the flight goes off without a hitch and I arrive in Muscat to an amazing airport full of western facilities! I had basically gone vegetarian while in India, despite my body’s craving for meat (in my unsuccessful attempt to avoid food poisoning after seeing meat being chopped on tree stumps). [My beloved, failsafe McDonald’s even caused problems. And by the way, if you have heard the rumor that McDonalds in India serves ham burgers, like ham on a bun – not beef, it’s not true – no beef or pork, just a couple varieties of chicken.] So when I saw a Subway in the airport, I was in heaven. I think I paid about $12 for a 6-inch sub that included ham, turkey, and “beef strips” (bacon), and finally my stomach lessened its attacks on me.