October 10, 2015 (…at least it is somewhere in the world)
Currently: Joking & laughing with a new friend in the Mumbai airport
Welcome to my ramblings, musings, and recollections on my travels across India, Nepal, and Bhutan. I have dreamt of seeing India since little twelve-year-old me wrote a report on the Taj Mahal. My knowledge and love for Indian culture and cuisine has since grown and intensified my desire to see this beautiful country. It only took twelve years but I turned my dream into reality. I booked a 51-day overlanding tour with Dragoman from Kolkata to Mumbai (see map below for visualization’s sake), giving myself exactly one month to prepare my life for this adventure. Oh yeah, and I’m doing it alone. Which isn’t a big deal for some people, but it definitely is for me!
Today it begins…
Denver > Washington DC
Washington DC > Dubai
Dubai > Mumbai
Mumbai > Kolkata
I’m on flight three of four and I’ve already completely lost any semblance of time and place. It’s a little disorientating, to say the least, when you keep landing in the dark after a three-hour flight, twelve-hour flight, and two and a half hour flight. I miss you sun.
During the four-hour layover in Dubai, pure exhaustion set in. There was no seat near my gate so I snagged a Starbuck’s seat and unsuccessfully fought the urge to doze off. I wake up to Raj, an American with a fourth-generation Indian background and no Hindi skills to speak of, asking me about the wifi situation. Pretty early on in the conversation, we realized we were going to be on both Mumbai and Kolkata flights together. That pretty much made us best friends for the next 24 hours. Also, Raj is awesome.
Raj werkin it at the Mumbai airport.
And yes, I’m definitely showing off my blog.
On the plane to Mumbai, I am seated next to two Indians who are immediately concerned that my sleeping body will prevent them from accessing the aisle over the next three hours. To be fair, I did nod off the second my butt hit that seat. Their concerns grew until they woke me up in an overly apologetic and confusing attempt to get me to move seats. Hello there, language barrier! I sure have missed you. I end up moving across the aisle so my semi-comatose body didn’t diminish their flight experience. I meet my new seatmate, Valentino. Valentino is a very proud Goan. He hates Mumbai. Pretty much all you need to know, but I had a great hour conversation with him about Indian culture, festivals, and food!
Off the plane and we officially made it into India! We very quickly learned to appreciate the exceedingly grave security concerns Mumbaikars (thank you Wikipedia) have. In other words, AK47s everywhere. We had a five-minute conversation with a stern military guard to persuade him to let us pass him to check in. We had to convince him that we didn’t need our boarding passes to go to the departure area, because that’s where we get our boarding passes. You know… that big open space with ticket counters and nice people who smile and give you your ticket to get on the plane. After staring down our documents for a solid five minutes, he squinted his judgy eyes at us, and begrudgingly waved us through. After cautiously avoiding a few more AK47s, we finally made it to our gate.
Now to get wifi (which is how I’m writing this blog!) in Mumbai’s airport, you either need an Indian number or a complimentary voucher found at the information desk. At this information desk, we found the most wonderful old American Hungarian man dressed exactly like a safari guide, matching hat and all. He was quite upset because he was promised vouchers since his flight was delayed three hours. He was walking around asking every semi-official looking person the whereabouts of the information guide worker. Air India had promised him a restaurant voucher and damnit, he was hungry! Mind you, this is the same flight Raj and I are both on. At one point, he called us the “three lost Americans” to which Raj and I chuckled to each other and shook our heads. I will not forget the man who so staunchly refused to give up his right to free food and wifi. Thank you sir. This blog post is dedicated to you and your determination.
READY…..SET…..hold on I still have one more flight to go.
Lots of love,