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Before Tendulkar tweeted to British Airways

by Gaurav Sethi

Much as Sachin Tendulkar has been a cricketing master, the handling of his non-cricketing affairs has been masterful - excuse the comparison, but it has been a study in contrast in every way to the way Vinod Kambli handled them. In the years following Sachin's retirement from cricket, his aura is very much intact, and being carefully embellished; meet "Sachin The Traveller" on his Facebook page. Few cricketers do a selfie with the family better, or for that matter, selfie with us folk better. But it was "Sachin The Traveller" that made me aware of first; he's their brand ambassador, and a Google search for a Dubai visa led me to their website. Whyever not? Sachin endorses them; so I am happy to go with them too.
The visas arrived and my wife and I were at the airport on October 4. At the Indigo Airways' counter, my papers were processed but my wife's were not. There was a small snag - her passport number on the Dubai visa did not match with the number in the passport. What next? It was up to and I was informed by the airline representatives that a fresh visa, as it arrives from Dubai, could take time - maybe a flight for the following day should be scheduled. It was 3pm then, and our flight left in little over two hours, at 5.05pm. SOS - called up Hold on. Listen to SRT say "Ghoom Musafir Ghoom" repeatedly, quite annoying on a loop. It was a Sunday. Appears was understaffed. After speaking to someone I was on hold again. From 3pm, it was nearly 3.25pm. I had no answers, and neither did my travel agents.
More calls. More holding on. More jingles. I was informed that they would have updates only by 4pm. I didn't expect much. Then it struck me, why not tweet to Sachin Tendulkar - he'd definitely have his handlers on his account 24X7, they're bound to see my tweet, and if anything, get across to faster than me at any rate. At 3.50pm my first tweet to @sachin_rt

At 3.53pm, my second tweet to @sachin_rt

At 3.56pm, my third tweet to @sachin_rt
It was a few minutes past 4pm. No call received. I decided to brave it, and listen to that "Ghoom Musafir Ghoom" jingle on a loop again. By now they were aware of my case but would only know in 15 minutes. The line got disconnected.
Meanwhile the flight was about to be closed in a few minutes. The counters were closed except for one staffer who had been both quite sane and supportive.
Then my phone rang. They were going to email me the corrected Dubai visa; it would take 15 minutes - couldn't it be done any faster? The flight's closing, man. Need it now. OK, sending. Sent! The visa arrived on my phone. They reopened the flight. We made the flight, we made it to Dubai.
Don't know how far it's true, but both my wife and I believe the tweets to @sachin_rt pulled it off. It was a slow day at the travel agent's; and everyone we spoke to, be it at the airlines or in Dubai, advised us to book for the next day but before that, make the agents confirm a visa for then. Two days after our flight, this tweet came in:
By now, everyone on Twitter has seen Sachin's tweets to British Airways. If you're in the minority, here goes:

If that wasn't bad enough, BA asked SRT for his full name. British Airways is the top Indian trend, and being collectively flogged by every Indian who knows how to abuse in 140 characters.
Anyway Sachin, hope things work out for you, as they did for me. And next time, please don't hesitate to tweet to me. I think I owe you one, pal.

First published here