Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Austin to Delhi, in Darkness

{ A year ago, in 2008, I spent a couple of months traveling in India. Not having a blog at the time, I wrote emails to family and friends. The entries of this trip are taken from those notes. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to keep writing, and sharing. Love, A. }

Browsing the 4 inch thick India Lonely Planet guide, Charles and I had a fitting "goodbye" meal of breakfast tacos at the airport Salt Lick BBQ. 24 hours later, waiting at the luggage carousel in Delhi, I was already wondering... why did I not order the 3 meat platter instead?

The trip started with the first adventure. Much discussion and haggling was done with the hotel/taxi organizer person at the airport, until we were quite confident we had made the right choice in order to be back again at the airport early next morning. Hooray! First decision made. Problem was, the taxi driver did not agree and therefore chose to drive us 20 minutes farther away from the airport to his favorite hotel (meaning, his friend's hotel where he gets a finder's fee). A little frustrated yelling ensued, and he did manage to get us back closer to the airport, but still not at the hotel we had chosen. I had a very unhappy roommate. At this point it was 11pm, we were exhausted, price was mid-range, and we had to be awake in 7 hours. Done. 

Turning ON the hot water heater in the bathroom is an important thing I came to learn, and a lukewarm shower was welcome. Couldn't have been happier at my purchase of a whole package of pink earplugs for the trip (picture me, smugly smiling, very pleased with self), as the noise from our 2nd floor room required them. The sun was only barely lighting the sky as we headed to the airport, and I really got my first peek at Delhi. 

On an alley (was it a street? is it a street if it is partly dirt, partly paved, partly trash?) crowded with many 3-4 story mid-budget airport hotels, we loaded the taxi in the cool morning. The alley took us out to a road under a huge freeway overpass. There, family with 4 small children huddled around a big pot with a fire in it. A donkey, many, many dogs, and a few other people wandered around them. The air seemed foggy or thick, and smelled of smoke, fire, car fumes, and construction. It was a brief look, and I have no impression of Delhi, or of India yet. Onto Chennai, a 2.5 hour flight south.

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