We made it to India almost without incident! I’m writing from the balcony of our hotel in Kovalam, the Arabian Sea Palace, complete with ocean view and palm trees.
I never thought to ask myself what sea or ocean we were looking at until I saw the hotel name… Fancy that, the Arabian Sea! Another new body of water to dip our toes in; in Sri Lanka we got the Bay of Bengal and the Laccadive Sea.
So, I said almost without incident. I did a fair amount of research and preparation prior to applying for our Indian e-Visa. In a couple of places I read that the visa requirement of an onward or return ticket is seldom enforced. I rolled the dice thinking that, worse case scenario, we could buy some cheap flight out of Delhi at the last minute. If we had to, we could buy tickets to a transport hub in Europe and then go from there.
That did not work.
At check-in for Sri Lankan Airlines they asked for our onward ticket from India, which we did not have. In the Negombo airport the public internet is not good enough to book 4 flights, with all the information required. Looking back, I could maybe have shared my cellular data connection with the laptop and booked that way. We were pretty low on data at that point, so that might have been a dead end.
The nice lady at the check-in counter suggested that we buy one-way tickets from India back to Sri Lanka. After the visa requirements were satisfied we could then have the tickets refunded. Off I ran, literally (we then had 1 hour until boarding) to find the Sri Lankan Airlines ticket counter. They told me “Go back out through security, ticket office is in the lobby.”
I went out through security, saw a sign for Airline offices and went up the elevator to the 2nd floor. The office was closed, and not a ticket counter. Getting a little frantic, I ran back downstairs and asked someone. They said “Go outside”. Hmmm, outside? Doesn’t sound like a lobby to me. Outside I went, muttering insults under my breath at whoever designed the airport.
The ticket office is indeed outside on the sidewalk, right where you’d catch a taxi. There I bought 4 one-way tickets from Chennai to Colombo ( the cheapest fare) for $579 CAD. The nice lady there explained that there is a $22 CAD cancellation fee, but sometimes they waive the fee. I need to write a very, very nice email explaining our plight and maybe they’ll have mercy.
A quick jog back through security and we were all set!
We made it with a big 20 minutes to spare and a lesson learned. Hopefully one that won’t cost us $88 CAD, but if so it’s not the end of the world.
The flight was an uneventful up-and-down 35 minutes to Trivandrum. The little fella fell asleep ( we woke up at 4:45 to get to the airport) before take-off and woke up at landing. Interestingly, I was the only man on the flight with no mustache. Now that we’re safe and sound in Kovalam, I guess my razor and I have some serious thinking to do.