written on the plane and in the Centaur Hotel, New Delhi, India – backposted to sort of fit the timing.
05:32am, 24 Nov:
Culture shock came at the airport in Newark, not even yet in Indian airspace. There was no queue for boarding, but a throng: which one-upped American travellers by not trying to sneak in early, but waiting until their rows were called. It did give the gate/TSA agent more than enough to complain about – “Stand in one line. Please move aside, we need a LINE. No one can get through to board, please stand off to the side. I need space for people to come in to board..” etc.
On the plane, I learned that there is no more a thing called “personal space”. The woman sitting next to me had a 2 or 3 year old child, but it was being treated as a lap baby — so I spent most of the flight being knocked about by either the head or the feet of a flailing child. I have also confirmed that when one child starts to cry, even if there is otherwise nothing wrong, each other one will — so we had a choir of about 12, at periodic points, and it was made the worse during ascent and descent (for which I really can’t blame them, air pressure et all).
The only other airplane concern was a knee problem – I’ve a bit of an issue with my knees, and Adam and I were definitively the people who got up and stretched the most, on the flight. I’d been fighting with knee pain since we got into the car from New Milford to drive to Newark, and it hadn’t improved. As Adam pointed out, the disadvantage of him having family from a medical background, and both of us watching TV shows like House, and my mother’s murder and mayhem, means that we can be prone to looking at the worst situation first, and trying to plan accordingly. I have never had a problem on a flight before, but I’ll probably look into compression socks for any trips over 10 hours from now on, just to try to remove an element from the equation if it was somehow maybe related to circulation.
Arrival in India went smoothly: there was a man from a local agency that Woodstock works with, who picked us up at the airport. Due to our baggage quantity, they hired a second cab for us for the luggage; Adam rode in that one, which I think I have a picture of, while “ma’am” rode in the white leather-interior and AC luxury sedan. Lessons learned? Lines aren’t even guidelines, every driver knows PRECISELY what mass and volume his vehicle takes, and its speed and braking power, and U-turns truly are slightly less terrifying if you can remember that the driver doesn’t get paid unless you get safely at your destination, so when he rushes into a break between oncoming traffic (according to Adam – my driver waited!) you can be assured he THINKS there’s enough space, and is willing to risk car and money on it.
We also had a crash course in the insinuation of street kids; we had thought that our taxi driver (we used the pre-paid taxi service, which is critical!) had the kid to assist… Until a member of ‘security’ (while I saw guys in SECURITAS uniforms, and in Indian military uniforms, this guy was in something military and blue, rather than brown) came over, said something to him, and belted the kid in the back of the head. And I don’t mean ‘a light smack’, but reached up and did not pull his force, and the kid didn’t say a word and just scurried off.
By the time we arrived at the Centaur Hotel (where downstairs, a wedding reception was being held), it was 23:40 or so — or, according to our bodies,13:10. We’d accumulated about 2 hours of sleep in the past day+ of transit, trying to ensure our bodies had a good reason to settle onto the Indian schedule. I at least managed to knit handwarmers on the plane, do some work on a shawl, and then to watch several movies and all of “Frontier House” (which was fun, but just Google that). We got in, took a shower to sluice off all the travel dirt, and passed out.
I woke up a few times – I’m writing this now at about 05:30 – and I’m going to go take a bath to try to knock off this headache from dehydration. We have a 7am wakeup call, which will hopefully be enough time for Adam to bathe, us to dress and juggle our bag repacking (namely, getting our cameras out, and moving some of the plane-related materials to other bags) and get some non-airplane food into our systems before 8am and the cab to Mussoorie.
–6:40am, 24 Nov update:
Headache still here, and I’ve taken some anvil and half a litre of bottled water. Dehydration + poor airplane posture = the suck.