Foreigners Czech out of India

Updated: 30 March, 2020 07:44 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Czech citizens soar out on Sunday as mammoth coordination exercise results in operation airlift

Rashmi Jolly
Rashmi Jolly

Money may have wings but at times Czechs (pun intended) do too. On Sunday, March 29, at least 135 Czechs, along with some Germans, Bulgarians and Austrians flew out of Mumbai International Airport after a frenzied 24-hour exercise, with permissions, protocols and procedures leading to the take off.

"I was elated as the big bird, the Czech Airlines Airbus took to the skies," laughed Rashmi Jolly. Jolly is Hon. Consul General of the Czech Republic, in Maharashtra and Goa. There were seven Czechs from Mumbai, approximately 29 from Goa and the rest from Pune.

'Goa is a big lure'
Jolly further said, "The Czech Republic is a land locked country and the weather is very cold. Goa with sunny climes, sandy beaches, spirit of susegade and chilled beer is a big lure," she added.

Tracing Czechs in Goa was a real challenge. "They were in unheard of small places. The Trailblazers Travel Co. in Panjim sourced them." Next, the bring-them-back-binoculars were trained on Pune. A large number of Czechs at the Skoda/Volkswagon auto plant at Chakan near Pune were brought in buses to the Mumbai International Airport late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The shrill trill of Jolly's mobile through the night was indicative that the machinery was in motion.

She said, "The Ministry of Protocol, Maharashtra Govt and state police co-orinated seamlessly. It was a sleepless night for all those in charge of a mammoth effort, from the time the wheels began turning. The Flywell Aviation Pvt. Ltd. in Delhi helped the Embassy of the Czech Republic there get MEA permission for the plane to land here."

The route
The aircraft flew from Prague to its first halt – Goa – where it picked up a group of passengers. It then winged to Mumbai. It took off from Mumbai yesterday at 6 am, refuelling was scheduled at Armenia, stopped at Hanover and finally reached Prague.

Jolly added, "Locating and getting the citizens to a common collection point is the tough part. Even now there are Czechs who may be in fairly remote places in Rishikesh or Haridwar. Many do not come for stock, touristy reasons. Some are here on a spiritual journey, drawn by the perception of exotic India."

While those in India may be in quest for life's more profound lessons, Jolly says the 24- hour operation taught her the undeniable truth to the adage, "Strength is in unity, for we would not be able to achieve this without the help of every agency and individual pitching in. Divisions of caste, class and country melt away in such times. This though should not be temporary but it should stay with us for life."

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First Published: 30 March, 2020 07:20 IST

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