Thursday, December 13, 2007

Visit to India - Part 1

Hello and Greetings from Delhi!!

All I can say is - Whew. And wow! It is all overwhelming. This experience brings back a LOT of memories from Africa. Plus a bit more, since we don't have a tour company taking care of everything we do here. It's just me and my parents, figuring it out as we go!

My brain feels like total mush after travelling all yesterday and everything we’ve experienced today. The trip started out with my flight from Zurich almost not happening. They announced that it was delayed and may be cancelled, but at the last minute they got whatever problem fixed and we were able to take off. The delay meant I had a very tight connection in Paris, where I was to meet my parents on the plane to fly to India together. If I missed the flight I would have to wait until the next day to get another flight, and my parents wouldn’t know where I was or what to do when they got to Delhi. So, I really needed to catch that flight!

I ran thru the Paris airport and made it on the India-bound plane just in time!... Just in time to sit there for an extra hour before we could finally take off. I could have just taken my time after all! Oh well, the 8-hour flight went smoothly and I had a nice time catching up with my parents with some wine, reading and napping...and before we knew it we were in India! Here we just got off the plane...

When we arrived in Delhi it was almost midnight, and we were welcomed by a mile-long line for passport check. Since we were almost at the end of the line already, we decided to let it shorten a bit while we went to the restroom - only to discover when we returned that two more flights had arrived and made the line even longer - Doh! Ah, the joys and “glamour” of travel. Who would have expected so many people there at 1am?
After surviving the looooong wait and having our passports approved, we went to pick up our baggage - only to find that it still hadn't arrived yet -- and we had disembarked the plane over an hour and a half earlier!! We waited still another half hour watching the baggage belt go verrrrrry sloooooooowly by. There was dust all in the air in the airport, seemingly from some construction they had been doing.

When we finally collected our belongings we looked for our driver who would take us to our hotel. Unfortunately among the throngs and throngs of people welcoming the arriving passengers, no sign had my name on it like it was supposed to. I used a phone to call our hotel and they said that the driver had given up on us since our flight was late and the wait was so long. Well isn't that nice, especially since it was pre-paid!! So we ended up taking a taxi. That experience was a separate adventure in itself - too much to put into words, so just remind me to tell you next time I see you in person. Let's just say we were really glad to finally see the hotel and to arrive with all our bags and all our people together and in one piece!!

The hotel was bare-bones basic, but relatively clean. The windows would not close fully, which was worrisome with mosquitoes and their accompanying malaria risk. There was no tub or shower - just a water faucet on a side of the bathroom.

The noise outside on the streets was never-ending -- horns honking constantly, Indian music playing, bells ringing from rickshaws, people yelling, more horns honking on and on and on... But we were so tired we finally fell asleep and slept thru it all! (of course earplugs are definitely a travelers' best friend).

In the morning we decided that a change of hotels was in order. We got connected with a local tour agency who helped us find a better place and also set up a car and driver for us to get around the next three days. So we moved to the new hotel, which was a very welcome haven after all the hecticness. This one even has a tub AND a shower!

We spent the rest of the day touring Delhi. It is hard to put into words what a moving experience it is to see a place like this in person. There seem to be no rules for driving - the lane lines are ignored, and horns are constantly blared while cars push ahead into spaces you didn't think previously existed, along with rickshaws, bikes, motorbikes, people, ox-carts, camels...

lots of cattle crossings...

everything vies for position to get ahead...

There are people sleeping on the sidewalks and children sitting by fires on the corner of the road...

people selling anything you can think of, and people eating right next to people relieving themselves... I really don't know how to describe it, there was so much to see at once and so many emotions that it created. There are a lot more pics in the picture album here.

For lunch we ate at a wonderful restaurant and it was my parents' very first experience having Indian cuisine. They can't take spicy things, so I knew it might make for quite a challenge here... But they loved it!

And I did too -- so much flavor, what's not to love. Our driver dined with us and helped us pick out things from the menu. He is a great guy and I would recommend him to anyone travelling to the Delhi area.

Well after all this we are exhausted so time to rest before dinner... It was a big day filled with seeing many many different things, and witnessing first-hand how there are lots of people in this world that have hard lives where every day it is a challenge to obtain food and a clean place to rest their head. It especially hits home when I was reading some of my emails just now, and there was one from a company selling things for Christmas which said something about how "the holidays are so exhausting and overwhelming". Of course it is true, in our world it can be a "stressful" time if we let ourselves get bogged down with all the expectations we put on ourselves. But hopefully we can remember just how GOOD we all have it in life - so comfortable, so convenient. We have it downright easy compared to so many other people in this world!!

More later...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done, Beck!!! Was I really there?!?!