The IIMC campus is so far away from the city that we were apprehensive of getting a taxi early in the morning in order to catch our flight back. A couple of friends from IIMC gave us the number of a supposedly reliable call taxi but we didn’t want to take any chances.

I had planned out an elaborate post but have now lost the enthu. Here is what I manage of it.

Toad had told us that we can find some good eating places at Park Street. Reached there by another rickety taxi around 9. Most places turned out to be pubs. There were only a couple of restaurants around. Went to the cheaper one. Turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. However, the paan proved to be good compensation.

Calcutta airport is much better than the private airlines terminal at Delhi. At midnight, there are quite a few shops open, there is a pay phone available and you get something more for the stomach than just coffee. There is also a i-way outlet which is open. And the security guard is very courteous.

After taking care to keep an alarm for 5 am, we sprawl on some sofa sets in the airport. 3 hours of sleep the preceding night and the long train journey preceding that means that the next thing I know it’s 5 am already. And unlike the Delhi airport, there is a buzz already. People are already pouring in. Announcements are on. Some air deccan flights are late. One has even been cancelled. We are happy we are flying jet.

Our flight is on time but we are shocked to see a long line in front of the Bangalore Airport. It’s for the pre-paid autos and we go join them. The guy at the counter (a cop) seems so slow in writing out the slips. Soon there is a traffic jam out there as the queue at the queue blocks the entrance to the airport! Finally a few more cops arrive and ask all autos to put meter and disperse the crowd.

This is so different from the smooth experience one has at teh Railway STation. There, the guy at the counter has a comp and churns out slips in a matter of seconds. They charge a nominal Re. 1 per auto as “maintenance charges”. And the thing runs like a dream.

Coming to think of it, the booth at the station is run by the auto-drivers’ union while the one at the airport is run by cops! It is interesting to note that the unions are doing a much better job of it while we would normally believe that cops would be better at it!

The reasons could be many. One, the auto drivers trust the union representative and simply accepts the price that is put on the ticket. Also, the fact that it is computerised means that the auto driver knows what he is getting into. I have observed autodrivers at the airport arguing with the cop at the booth regrding the fare that is put on the slip. And causing a lot of delay. Then, of course, at the cop-run booth it is a different guy doing the job at different times. And they are not specialists at the job and have to look up the books every now and then. On the other hand the unions have employed full-time booth operators which leads to an increase in efficiency.

Moral of the story – unions can sometimes do good work.

For the record, we reach hostel around 11 and carry the trophy back to my room. Sadly no one notices us. I am so pleased with myself about the performance in Cal that i declare a holiday for myself and bunk all classes.

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