After the eventful and lengthy flight we are tired and in need of some much needed rest to recharge and acclimate to the local time. We disembark and enter the New Delhi Airport to be welcomed by the giant graceful hand sculptures in the New Delhi International airport receiving area. We are a little worried that our E-Visas will be a liability now, costing us some delays at customs/immigration. But the Indian authorities are all over this! They have about 10 stalls set up to specifically service international E-visas. I look over at the mile long “switchback” line that the Indians are mired in and feel so sorry for Mama Ji – I wonder if she got in line near the projectile vomit child. But the errant bit of empathy is quickly exorcised and I proceed to the E-Visa line with Bob. Bob is first to the booth in our line as he is in his “run off and join the circus” mode. One has to keep an eye on him when he’s like this. But its pretty easy as he towers above the crowd. Bob presents his papers and is electronically fingerprinted and moves on. I present my papers and pass port and my prints are processed. I am waved on — but wait — I am called back, the agent forgot to stamp one of my papers. He has to begin again and he goes a little slower this time. But he gets it done quickly. I soon am scanning for Bob but he is nearby waiting putting my earlier observation about him running off to rest! So we rejoin and collect our baggage and proceed. Next step is well planned by Bob – in order to avoid the taxi cab rush of vultures feeding on a new carcass, we pre-purchase our taxi fare at the prepay stand avoiding the haggle hassle with several drivers vying for our business. We then take our receipt out to a designated driver and proceed to the location noted on the paper. We load up and are on our way. A while down the road there is some jabbering on the phone and it appears as though our driver doesn’t know the location of our prepaid lodgings. What you say? They can’t find The Hotel Brigadoon New Delhi???? Yes apparently the day this 100 years that its accepting guests is over and the hotel has again disappeared into the mists of the Indian moors. Perhaps its just the worsening air quality plaguing New Delhi from the inversion. Bob doesn’t know that we’ve narrowly avoided a time vortex but is as yet intent to get to our lodgings or some lodgings so he tells our driver to return us to the airport. Back we go. And back to the prepay taxi booth. The agent there calls the Hotel Brigadoon only to get a disconnected phone message! They apparently disconnected their phones before being subsumed by the century long time vortex. Yegads!!! What do we do now???? Not to worry the agent has the name of a nearby hotel at a good price – probably his brother in law’s. We get booked there and give a few more rupees to cover the difference in distance and we are off once again into the Indian night. The hotel seems far away from the airport and we drive into a pretty seedy looking area then make a sharp right into a very narrow alley probably too narrow for a full size car and then emerge into a small garden courtyard adjacent to the doors of a high end hotel! And it has no hint of Scottish character about it as the bell hops are watching cricket and we’re expected. This place will not slip away in 24 hrs time! We check in and are soon comfortably ensconced in our room. I am always amazed at the amount of marble everywhere in India. Marble floors, stairs, bathrooms, walls, table tops etc. This place is put together and the beds are soft and comfortable. We unwind and are soon sleeping comfortably.
Morning light comes early but it means little to us as we’ve slept for a good 9 hours. Bob is in the bathroom showering as I open the door to our tiny balcony— no better to say veranda…
We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto! I see a wing of three ring necked plum headed parakeets, several Asian crows and a pariah kite as the neighbor’s dog is barking at a feral dog and keeping him off of his family’s turf. The lush vegetation of the back alleys of New Delhi always catches me by surprise.
The people of New Delhi like us are waking and making preparations for another day of hard work and hustling for a living.
The neighbor is showing why the air quality during an inversion gets progressively exponentially worse as the day or days go on. The neighbor pictured is drying cow patties (not the noted cow girl) on the roof abutments. They will later be burnt (smoldered?) for cooking fires. Hmm no wonder Indian cuisine is a taste I have not acquired and it is generally so heavily spiced. The black tanks are water supply tanks. The municipal water system is only on during designated days or hours and water is drawn from the system at those times and stored on the roof of each building to supply 24 hr water. It would have to be pumped to the roof for good pressure in any case.
Bob soon exits the bathroom and enjoys the view with me content in the idea that he has used every drop of hot water. LOL Not really, I kept the water heater on and there is plenty for my ablutions as well. Jim Baxter warned me about Bob’s MO with the hot water so I am vigilant to make sure that the heater stays on. After my shower and repacking we decide to have breakfast in our room before we fly off to Calcutta. Note: I like the old name for Kolkata better as I have fine Shimano casting by that name and shall continue to use that here in the blog. We opt for scrambled eggs, toast, juice and tea. We are rested and ready to brave the vagaries of dun dun dun (foreboding music) domestic Indian air travel……. So I will leave that tale to the next blog.