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To India

My flight from the UK finally left at about seven pm – five and a half hours after its scheduled time.

When I arrived in Dubai at some time to six am, it turned out that the ongoing flight (EK0512, scheduled to leave at 5:15) had also been delayed until six. I hurried as quickly as I could through the security check – there were loads of people doing the same, so when I went through the metal detector a second time, setting it off again, the guard ignored me because, a) he wasn’t paying attention and b) someone came through just after me and also set it off. Then set off at a brisk walk down the fancy shopping mall-style concourse to gate 9. The plane then sat at the gate for about another hour waiting for passengers and bags. I had no chance to spend any of my dirhams.

The lateness of the flights didn’t bother me at all; I’m often happiest sitting around doing nothing. I’d e-mailed the hotel from Manchester airport to let them know I would be late, and thought I would do the same from Dubai once I knew when I’d be arriving. Of course, in the event, I couldn’t do that. What I should have been able to do was e-mail from the plane. Emirates planes have computers built into the back of every seat, on which you can watch films, TV, listen to music etc. I tried doing that; after swiping my credit card I started using the touch-sensitive screen to type. Then the stupid thing stopped working. That pissed me off more than anything else during the trip. I’d already told the hotel I’d be late, so I wasn’t that worried about it.

On the plus side, while my credit card provider knows I’m in India for three months, if they’d seen something to do with Dubai they’d probably put a security block on my card. Liek they did when I returned to Halifax at the end of my Canada trip. Idiots.

So I was two hours late when I arrived at Indira Gandhi Airport near Delhi, but arrive I did and was met by a driver from the hotel, Santosh … who’d been waiting for two hours. The airport wasn’t terribly impressive – I realise this is India, but it is an international airport. I changed ₤300 into 23 thousand-odd rupees, something you can’t really do outside India.

Once on the road the two things that struck me most were the visibility – everwhere was covered with a dusty fog; you could see about 200 metres – and the chaotic nature of the traffic. The way people drive here is very like the way people walk on busy pavements (sidewalks) – if there’s space, that’s where you go. Consequently, it seems quite common for cars to go four abreast on a three lane road, and suchlike.

At one junction, a woman came up to my window speaking in Hindi and alternately putting her hands together and making eating motions. I shook my head a couple of times and when she continued, Santosh told her something. I’ve never given money to beggars and I don’t intend to in India. I do, however, intend to give some money to a charity.

The Hotel Cottage Yes Please (it’s not a cottage in any sense) seems OK. The room I’m in is a decent size – most of which is taken up by the large double bed. It was also pretty cool; there is an AC unit – which doesn’t seem to work. After getting to the room and having the lad who brought my bag up get me a bottle of water, I flicked through the TV channels, settled on British coverage of the England-Sri Lanka test match, then switched it off and climbed into bed.

At around midnight I woke up, wondered what I could possibly do at midnight in a strange country and went to sleep again. A mosquito woke me up at about 2:30; I don’t think it bit me, and it made itself scarce, thereby saving its life.

Eventually, I got up for real at half six or so and headed down for breakfast when my hair had dried and I’d decided I’d wasted enough time. The hotel doesn’t do any if its own food; instead, they get everything from a restaurant, the Malhotra, across the way. So that’s where I went for breakfast. The orange juice tasted very much like the juice of an orange, the cornflakes (the menu says they’re Kellogs) were pretty awful, the toast was OK (if cool and hard by the time I got round to eating them, and the tea was pretty good – incredibly rich and served with milk in the pot.

There were also a crowd of Koreans in the restaurant. I considered maybe talking to them, but there about a dozen of them and I’m me. They left at the same time I did and while I was waiting at the counter for a bottle of water, I asked the man who was paying for the group whether he was Korean. He was, and I said I’d lived in Korea for a year teaching English; he lives in India, and the others are visiting for a month or two.

And that’s about where I am now. Let the exploration of India commence.

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Categories: Travel
  1. Bix
    11 December 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Hope you enjoy your stay in India. Im sure you would see many incredible and amusing things.

  2. 13 December 2007 at 6:11 am

    Thanks.

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