Tuesday, 30 October 2012

This is it...Welcome to India!

Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th October:

So, the emotions on my last day at home were all over the place, there were tears, excitement, nervousness, panic, it all pretty much rolled into one big emotion I call, turmoil!

I said a very emotional farewell to my bubba puppy Archie, which even now as I’m typing this out makes me well up thinking about not having him to hug and kiss over the next two years!!  Get this – even hearing the stray dogs cry and bark outside just makes me get all emotional! Ha. And the picture of him on my passport cover – he’s just so cute it makes me wanna cry! But these are the sacrifices you make when taking on the world, a little bit of homesickness now and then. I’m also still feeling – omg, skype and the occasional txt or facebook – is this the only contact I’m gonna have with my family and friends for so long?! It kinda doesn’t really hit you until you go and you’re in a hotel room on your own, listening to the hustle and bustle of India outside your room. But then it is still my first night, in a very strange city, it will get better with time!

I had a little mini panic during the day with the whole check-in online thing but we got to the airport a little early so it all got sorted out. So panic over and bags checked in (not without a few photo’s before and a little try at getting a free upgrade – it didn’t work), we went up to Costa to wait for a few of the family who were coming to see me off – Kevin, Nick, Lisa and Granddad. Kevin came, and after half an hour there was still no sign of the others. Then we got a text saying they were in traffic and, ever the mature adults, dad and Kevin decided it’d be fun to play a joke on Lisa, it went a little like this; Dad: Hurry up Christina has to go in 5 mins!! Lisa; 3 miles away!! Dad; 3 mins! Lisa; Roundabout! Dad; GONE!!! Lisa; What?! Dad; Joke, Lisa; oh u are just so f-ing funny!

Needless to say they turned up with half hour to go til I had to go through security so it was lovely to have everyone around – took my mind off my nerves for a bit at least! 7.45pm came around and it was time to go, with quite a few tears, Lisa getting told off for taking photo’s at security and some hugs, kisses and goodbyes, I stepped through the threshold into the departure lounge. At this point I was physically shaking, but it got better the nearer I got towards gate 25, where it then started to turn into excited shaking.

Once on the plane I was sat next to a very lovely man who was going out to visit his family in Delhi - left the wife and kids in the uk for 2 weeks! Our TV’s didn’t work for the entire flight so we amused ourselves with chitchat until they’d fed us and then took it as a good opportunity to get some kip – which was going quite well until about an hour before landing we were rudely awoken by a Nepalese toddler coming to find his dad – who I’m not kidding was the BIGGEST toddler I have ever seen in my life!! Looked and probably weighed about age 6, but must have been way younger as he had only just learnt his ABC’s by the sounds of his constant chant of the first 4 letters!

Arrived in Muscat at 8.30am local time (4.30am UK time) at 27 degrees, within the ‘Sultanate of Oman’, which we renamed the ‘Sultanate of Sand’ because that’s literally all it was! The connecting flight to Delhi wasn’t until 10.35am so I just wandered around the airport and freshened up, before meeting up with Delhi-man – we never did get each other’s names – in the departure gate. When I first walked in I thought I was literally the only white person there which was weird but also quite refreshing to be a minority. But then a huge German school trip turned up so it just felt a little like being in Luton then. Lol. Not a lot to report about the 2nd flight, was like an Oman version of Easyjet, except this was way better, and had quite a bit of turbulence, but the 4 hours went fast and arrived in Delhi Indira Ghandi Airport at 3pm Local time (10.30am UK time). The landing was hilarious though, because I don’t think Indian’s take too well to rules, as the air hostesses kept shouting at them to sit down and put their seatbelts on for landing, but they just kept up getting up and walking around!! Even when we were taxiing on the runway, I think they would have opened the doors and got right on out, there and then if they could, cos they were having none of the air-hostesses warnings! The air-hostesses also went down the carriage spraying this ‘vapour’ - what it was I do not know, my only guess is it’s antibacterial but apparently it’s mandatory before we were allowed off!

Indira Ghandi Airport is much like Bangkok airport – it’s huge and takes an age to get anywhere, not good when you’re tired and hot (it was 30 degrees out today and that was at 4pm!) Got my backpack on which is good considering it was the first time assembling it all on me own, and then went to find my hotel pickup which was pretty painless.

Got to it and it was the tiniest little hippy-van car ever. My hour ride was conducted against a Bollywood soundtrack too! Now, no word of a lie, I actually laughed the entire hour, from airport to hotel, because it was just the most surreal journey I have ever had! The guidebooks, the documentaries and the films, they all try to explain what India is like, but NOTHING can prepare you for what it actually is and what experiences lie ahead! It really is like you are literally in another universe – India’s welcome is a hilarious punch in the face! Here are some of the things that stuck in my mind: Women and children walking along a lane of the motorway, whilst buses and cars swerve to avoid them, stray dogs jumping out on you, the way the motorists must deliberately get THAT close to each other, just for entertainment and an excuse to beep those blasted horns. How a man decided to take a call on his mobile, so just stopped his car in the middle of the motorway, the cutest street children dancing next to your car at traffic lights – and how traffic lights are there to just be ignored. Rally driving down a little backstreet where your hotel is and nearly hitting every car, tuk tuk and cyclist coming at you, a man cycling along with a mountain of car tires hung off his bike...oh I could just go on and on and I’m sure a new experience will trump the last one, every minute I’m in this country!

Got to the hotel with a sigh of relief after catching my breath from laughing – I’m now their favourite hotel guest who they just can’t do enough for...Madam I’ll take you to your room, can I get you a drink, Madam you have complimentary internet access (even though it doesn’t work), Madam I’ll escort you to and from the cashpoint whatever time of day...and prepare everything you need for a simcard, plus take you to the shop and back, and you have room service any time of day. It just never stops lol. But it does mean I’m well looked after and didn’t have to navigate the road my hotel is on (or path, which any vehicle seems to think it can go down). The room is lovely, on better inspection it’s pretty basic, but for India it’s flippin’ 5*! 

Had a nice Veg Thali, a cold water shower, which on actual opinion is not that bad as it’s so goddamn hot out!  And now I’m sat on my bed, hoping and praying the internet works so I can skype the rents before 11pm – I have a feeling this is what India will be like, promising something but ‘honestly it will work tomorrow madam!’ I’ll believe it when I see it - writing this blog post, whilst listening to the various sounds from outside – firecrackers (as Diwali is soon), stray dogs howling, beeping horns, shouts, Indian music drifting from shops, the hum of motorcycles and tuk tuks...I think I could get quite used to this over the next two months – to the point that I won’t know what it is to fall asleep to quietness!

Toodles for now, I’m off to go Lonely Planet Delhi and find out what to do with my day tomorrow! ATM I think my first action tomorrow is to shoot the stray dog barking right outside...and perhaps also like, book my train tickets to Rishikesh xxxx

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