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   Being an infrequent traveller... (December 10, 1987)

Being an infrequent traveller, my average is once in three-and-a-half years, I continue to marvel the speed of modern travel. For instance, yesterday afternoon I was in Stuttgart, in south-west Germany near the Black Forests, this morning before the new day had broken, I was in Bombay.

I began with a taxi, taken in the backyard of Count Zeppelin's hotel. A Mercedes Benz, no less, since Stuttgart is the city of the Benz, rolling out of own of town, than speeding along those German highway, built like racetracks.

At the Stuttgart airport, the girl booked me through, first to Frankfurt, and then all the way to Bombay. Then, without my asking her, she said: "It is a long flight between Frankfurt and Bombay, let me see if I can find you a window seat." Then she played with the computer, found a seat, tore up the ticket she had already made, and gave me a new ticket.

It take 45 minutes from Stuttgart to Frankfurt, just time for an orange juice (you have a choice, salted orange juice and natural). Below, the German countryside spreads out in foot-ruler-straight motorways and clover-leaf flyovers.

Frankfurt is the world's largest composite airport, no doubt about it, abut it on three levels, several wings, the entire complex sitting on top of a railway station. John F. Kennedy in New York may be larger, but it is broken up into several individual terminals. Eight hundred planes fly in and out of Frankfurt every day, yet, it is more difficult to lose your way there than at Sahar with tow dozen flights a day.

I checked the indicator, my Lufthansa flight was on schedule as those of 30 others leaving within the next half-hour, except two. One of these was Air-Inda 130, Frankfurt Bombay-Delhi, scheduled to leave at 13.45 now expected to leave at 16.00, the other Pakistan Airlines, 716, Fankfurt-Islamabad, scheduled to leave at 14.20, now expected to leave at 15.50

Lufthansa operates with accepted German efficiency. By the time the set-belts sign went off, it was flying 29,000 ft. over Munich, its route clearly potted out, over Zagreb, Belgrade, Sofia, the eastern edge of Cyprus then over Turkey, Southern Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf of Oman, across the Arabian Sea and into Bombay. The pilot's voice came over the public-address system, interrupting Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker: "The flight time to Bombay is 7 hours and 35 minutes and we expect to be on schedule."

Then the miracle of modern transport continued. At 30,000 ft. in the air, suspended between the clouds and the dark skies, there were cocktails, dinner (a stewed veal steak with German potatoes and German cabbage), a movie Gottes Vegessene Kinder (Children of A Lesser God), and a post-movie snack with a bottle of wine.

I arrived in Bombay on the dot. At Sahar, there were some people waiting for relations to arrive from Frankfurt by Air-India. I told them that the last I had heard was that the plane was running two hours late.

 
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