I went to Bangalore on 29th November 2016 for a short three days visit and a few things happened before and during the trip.
Firstly, the Indian government had announced a demonetisation of the 500Rs and 1,000Rs (Rs = Rupees) currency notes that took effect with immediate effect. There are insufficient new 500Rs and 2,000Rs notes that replaced them (there is no new 1,000 Rs currency note). All the Singapore money changers I went to, including those in the Singapore Changi airport said they don’t have any Indian Rupees to change, not even the 50Rs and 100Rs ones.
The business associate over at Bangalore assured me that he will reserve some rupees for me, and I had changed some US Dollars for local food and transport before departure.
Fortunately, the money changer at the Bangalore airport do allow foreign tourist (and returning Indian citizens) to changed up to 5,000Rs per passport holder. However, the exchange rate is bad and the commission rate is 5% (XE.com shows 1 SGD = 47 Rs, which the money changer at the Bangalore airport gave 1 SGD = 42 Rs).
Later, I found out that the local taxi from airport to hotel costs 2,000Rs, which fortunately is charged to the business associates’ company and I gave him US Dollars equivalent. If not, I will run out of cash for food and taxi just for two days in India. I cannot imagine ow those tourists and backpackers get by after the shock announcement.
The people I meet with are nice and are genuinely interested in what I do. They have many friends who travelled to or through Singapore.
On my return leg, I shared a cab with Naveen who is my business associate and he is travelling back to his home in Mumbai and we talked a lot and he gives me an impression of upbeat outlook on Indian economy in general and data center industry in particular.
Now the big problem is that I booked for the trip in the last minute, so I did not realize until the airline counter staff told me that my return ticket is one day ahead. The booking was for 1st December 00:05 hours while I was at the Bangalore airport at 21:30 on 1st December. I think the 00:05 timing caught me wrong-footed.
The nicest thing is the counter staff by the name of Marius (I may have remembered wrongly) helped me to book the 2nd December 00:05 hours flight at the best possible price and gave me exit row seat while airline policy is that it is the airline stewardess who can up-sell normal seat to the exit row seat.
I got onto the plane smooth and ready, and Marius came to my seat and gave me a printed copy of my e-ticket and said he has to give me that hardcopy. Wow, talk about the nicest gesture.
I think my first trip to India ended up in a better than good way. I look forward to my future trips to India.