Tuesday, June 07, 2005


If you've been paying attention, you'll remember that I mentioned a proposed week-long trip to India last month. And then completely failed to report back to you, dear reader. The reason for this, ah, you've guessed it. I didn't go. Pressure of work, staff problems, that kind of rubbish.

And I completely missed the opportunity to extract the Michael from Air India Express, whom I had been planning to fly with. They launched with much hullabaloo, but almost no passengers. The reason for the lack of passengers being that they had not appointed a GSA (General Sales Agent) for Dubai. Travel agencies claimed that they had not been informed of the launch, and then when they were informed, were completely unwilling to sell AIE tickets for the paltry sum that was offered (the figure Dhs 17 per booking sticks in my mind).

So AIE's target market, the ones who really want the cheapest possible flight, were unable to use the service. Why? Because the only way you could get a ticket was by booking online using your credit card. Amazingly, most labourers on Dhs 800 a month do not have Internet access and have never seen a credit card.

In the last couple of weeks AIE have appointed a company with no previous experience of the travel market, and no retail network, to be their agents. Things that make you go 'hmmmm'.

So my next travelling plan is for next month, and if I duck out of this one I will be divorced faster than you can say talaaq three times.

Here's the plan. I will join BetterArf in Dublin around mid-July. She is doing a summer school for her Masters Degree for the two weeks preceding that. After a weekend of craic and real Guinness, we will fly back to Londinium and spend a few days there. Then we will travel Oop North to visit our assorted families in Doncaster and Scunthorpe, possibly go to visit distant outposts in Durham and Scotland, and maybe even a detour to Liverpool on the way back down south. Then we will fly to Barcelona for about five days, return to London for a day or two, and then return to Dubai.

It's tough being an expat. You absolutely cannot return to your home country and not visit your rellies. Who, by the way, can not generally be arsed to jump on a plane and come to see us in our (adopted) native habitat.

The year before last my 'holiday' itinerary went like this. Fly to Heathrow via Cyprus, with Offspring. BetterArf is already in England. Stopover in Cyprus for a few days. Unwind. Fly to Heathrow. Visit our office in Surrey, do a bit of work. Rent a car. Drive Oop North. Two days in Doncaster. Two days in Scunthorpe, and a day trip to Cleethorpes (more rellies). Drive to Edinburgh, avoiding motorways, oh, bliss! Stay with BetterArf's Aunt in Pennycuik. Try to climb a mountain. Realise I am almost fatally unfit. Next day, deliver Offspring to Edinburgh. He has been invited to stay with a departed (from Dubai) schoolfriend in Aberdeen, and will be collected by schoolfriend's elder sister from her workplace in Edinburgh. Return to Aunt's, decide to stay another night. Next day, drive to Liverpool. Stay with bestest oldest buddies at their newly-acquired yuppie apartment near the Albert Dock. Next day, stay at their other house in Walton. Next day, head south, detouring to explore a lavender farm in Cheshire, trying to find Valerie who used to live in Dubai and now (we think) is somewhere near Stoke-on-Trent, but we are old, stupid and tired and don't have her phone number. So we try to meet up with an uncle who lives in Shropshire, but he is not answering the phone and doesn't have an answering service. So we dawdle on down to Surrey, not using motorways until we get to the lovely M25. A few days in Camberley, and then up to Luton Airport to pick up Offspring from (allegedly) the only Easyjet flight that ever landed on time. Then back to Camberley, return the hire car, and then meet up with another ex-Dubai-ite. Chauffeured by him up to Warwick. Next day, trip to Stratford-on-Avon. Next day, Virgin Atlantic train back to Camberley. Then a few days in E17, and I realise that I want to go home. Cyprus Airways cannot get me back to Dubai inside four days, so Offspring and I go to Cyprus for a few more days, and then complete the journey back to Dubai. I can't actually remember how or when BetterArf got back!

Well, I've never been one for just sitting around doing nowt, and a change is as good as a rest, they do say. I tell ya, I could really do with a change or a rest right now. It's been a very tough year (for reasons that cannot be mentioned on this blog). I only have ten jobs to finish before my holiday!