Friday, September 1, 2017

Namaste India!

Welcome to Delhi Chantale!

Original Post Date: June 14, 2017.

I'm back in Delhi! It's my fourth trip to India and my third time in Delhi. This time I did not arrive alone; I flew in with Chantale. We're actually only here one night as we fly to Jaipur tomorrow morning. So, we are literally spending the night at a hotel near the airport.

But....flash back to how the trip to India started yesterday afternoon.

I left house via Uber at 2:50p for Silver Spring metro and took the subway to Reagan National Airport, arriving at 4p. I texted Chantale who had taken Uber pool. Her ETA was 4:12p and she arrived about 3 minutes after that. We checked in at the United counter. A few days earlier I had checked our flight on United.com and noticed that we no longer had aisle seats. There were seats available but you had to pay at least $200 for each and as mileage plus members, they were willing to give us one for free but we would have to pay for the other. So I wanted to get to the airport early to see if the agent could reassign us to aisle seats for free and she did!!

Waiting at Reagan.

Our flight was not scheduled to depart until 6:30p. The agent put us on an earlier flight but apparently all flights leaving and arriving into Newark were delalyed due to weather. I kept getting alerts on time changes and with the last change which had us arriving into Newark at 8:40p had me worried that we would miss our 9:45p flight to Delhi so I went up to the ticketing agent to see if she could switch us to another EWR to Delhi flight but unfortunately, there was nothing available....at least nothing that had us going direct.

Thankfully, there were no other delays and our flight did land in Newark at 8:40p. Our flight arrived at Terminal A and the Delhi flight departed from Terminal C. Luckily, I had spoken with one of the pilots earlier on and both he and the flight attendant aboard the plane told us that we just had to walk a few gates over, go down the stairs and get on the shuttle van that would take us to Terminal C. The moment our flight touched down, the flight attendant told passengers to allow those people who had connecting flights to get off first so we scooted.

At the departure gate for the shuttle bus, we were directed to an awaiting bus which was an express bus to Terminal C, bypassing Terminal B. Once the bus got underway, we were at Terminal C in less than 5 minutes. We found our gate and people looked to be waiting to board. We had made it! It was a big relief as missing this flight would have caused a major headache for me - not only having to reschedule this flight but also shift our hotel in Delhi by one day as well as our flight to Jaipur not to mention having to notify our Airbnb host of a delayed arrival.

We figured we even had some time to grab a quick bite. Earlier in the day, Chantale found out that her father had been admitted to the hospital and she had told her family that she would contact them when she arrived into Newark. So I told her to call. While she was on the phone, I got a text alert from United indicating our flight had been delayed to 10:45p. Which gave us time to actually have a sit down meal. We settled on a dumpling place called Little Purse though we didn't have any dumplings.  Instead, dinner was pad Thai and Chinese sandwich which we shared.

After eating, we headed back to the gate and the boarding process had begun. We then encountered another delay when apparently something happened to the plane when the pilot was getting ready to pull out of the gate and we had to wait for the engineers to come and check it out. By the time we lifted off, it was midnight.

It was a very uneventful, thankfully, 13.5 hour flight to Delhi. We made it!!!

We followed the crowd to immigration. First thing we had to do was fill in our entry forms. As we were doing this, a young Chinese man approached us and started speaking with Chantale in Mandarin. Apparently, he didn't know what to fill in for local address as someone was coming to pick him up so I suggested he just put down the name of our hotel.

Chantale and I with the zipper guy.

Chantale found out that he was sent by his company to come and repair a broken zipper machine and that this was his third visit to India. He spoke no English. All three of us got in the line for foreigners only to be told we were in the wrong line. We then all headed over to the much longer eVisa line.


As we were there, we found out the young man was from Guangzhou so we all turned to speaking in Cantonese. Sadly, mine is much rustler than Chantales. I am a lame Chinese :-(, the young man's phone rang. It was his host who spoke English but no Chinese so Chantale played interpreter. The host wanted to know where the young man was so Chantale told him he was still in the immigration line. Eventually, we all made it through. While I headed over to the luggage carousel, I told Chantale to stay with the young man to make sure he cleared immigration okay. By the time I arrived at the carousel so had our luggage so I pulled our suitcases off the belt and waited for the other two to arrive.

As soon as the young man saw the luggage carousels, he headed out on his own and Chantale and I made our way out of the airport. Next was to get ourselves to the airport hotel that I had booked us into for the night - the not so fancy schmancy Hotel Vishal Residency. As we walked out of the arrival hall, Chantale wanted to give Uber a shot but I know it's a challenge to catch Uber from an airport - figuring out a pickup point is not easy. Luckily, right out side the terminal entrance was a stand for Meru - the government authorized taxi though not prepaid. We got into a taxi right away and it was about a 15 minute ride to the hotel.

She was tight on suitcase space so even her water bottle was packed with stuff!

Filling up on water.....the first of countless bottles.  It's bloody hot in Delhi and Jaipur.....in summer!

I had asked for two beds in one room and instead they gave us two separate rooms with a connecting door. I was charged for both rooms but given that they were just $30 each, I wasn't going to complain. I was just so happy to finally be in Delhi. The air conditioners had been turned off so the first thing I did was crank mine up and turn up the fan to max speed to try and chill down the room as quickly as I could. By now, it was almost 1am and we were both tired though our brains were too wired to sleep. We agreed to set the alarm for 6am so we could take showers and have breakfast before having to catch our 7:15am taxi back to the airport. I went ahead and booked the taxi back to the airport.

Understandably, Chantale was worried about her dad and then on top of it all, she found out about a last minute with her daughter's college that she needed to immediately address.  So, poor thing, she was up really late.  Now that the room has cooled down enough, I will try my best to catch some sleep though I'm so excited to be back in India, it's going to be hard to get my brain to shut off!

Cannot wait for the sun to rise because that will be the start of our first full day in India!  Jaipur, here we come but in the meantime,

Goodnight from Delhi!