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Monday, August 22, 2011

Border Crossings-Canada to the USA

After having arrived 3 hrs ahead for my 'international flight' to the US departing at 6 am..they decided to announce a five hour delay..a sense of chaos pervaded as I had two onward connections before arriving at my destination-West Palm Beach in Florida..scheduled for 1030 pm.

Adam from Fresno met the signboard with a loud wail. He was booked via Continental and me via United at they were both in a merger.operating the same fight.

We banded together to fight the airlines.With no staff at the counters yet we decided to share resources and feedback.He called Continental and me United...I called the toll free numbers and the half hour wait at 3 am was worthwhile for the United operative offered me a 730 flt straight to Houston were after a 3 hours wait I could connect the same original flt to West Palm.

I had been asked to check in at the Continental desk. A young girl who announced she was new to the job sweetly took my booking in hand. She was rudely interrupted by her manager, a young hot headed man who said "take him off" we are oversold . I realised that this was a dire situation! I brusquely told him that I had been give a computer number by his partner airline and he could not toss me out; and I was not budging.I loudly said I didnt see his name plate on and I wanted to speak to his supervisor. He shouted back" I am the supervisor". I said " I want to see "your supervisor". He snatched up my passport and stomped to the United Airlines desk where I followed angrily. The United manager told him she could not cancel my reservation, as it was the central desk which had reissued me a ticket.By this time the sweet young girl apologised to me for the inconvenience, and having already ticketed me couldn't cancel the booking. And so the angry young man issued me my baggage tags at all. I later went and shook hands with him and he looked very sheepish and sorry. I said "you must be in a very difficult situation'.The trouble, as the young lass explained was because the merger had taken place in the US,but not yet in Canada, and that United kept overbooking!

Then customs and Immigration. Not having been to the US for 10 years I supposed my profile looked odd. Asked to go for a "secondary examination", I stood before a young agent who was firm and professional but polite. The wait was long and his scrutiny on screen painstaking. He asked me what took me to Florida..I said "to spend time with a polo buddy". "You play polo?". Yes.and is there any other business in the US? Well Im writing a book to be put out in the US. What kind of book? I pulled out the rough sample..showed him the polo and other pics...

Much checking and typing ad retyping and other id etc etc.he looked up as he was typing and reaffired.." so it is a book on polo?" I said " on travel and polo". He typed something in !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He said "thank you Mr Singh", you are good to go.  I walked out. Two officers stood. "What are you doing here did someome kick you out? Get the officer to walk you out". I walked back in..another officer said, "please come this way Mr Singh, here is the sacred door'.
I saw the two faces of US Immigration..and went on my way.

Here in Palm Beach my friends are observing Ramadan so the only meal and drink of the day is after sundown. Being good friends and knowing how difficult I find it to fast I dont like making too much of a fuss..a few provisions from the store and dinner with the family..makes it workable.

The polo farms, horses , estates et al are top knotch and world class..big and grand American style..
On the farm the family mucks in t keep the farm and horses in tip top shape.

I asked my hosts..should not the sky darken with clouds if the hurricane is immient?
No no..there won't be a cloud in the sky as all the moisture gets sucked up by the hurricane.
It will hit suddenly. Everyone is having a discussion as to " horses in or horses out"..etc etc.

I have packed my bags to batten down the hatches..

Well the sky has just darkened and there is rain..
Now we shall see...
until the next transmission from hurricane coasts in West Palm Beach..near the Everglades..

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