Suitcase and World: On Our Way to Delhi! Yay!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

On Our Way to Delhi! Yay!

Chantale and I left Jaipur behind today. I feel like I had just arrived. No doubt our time here was far too short but I do know that I will return to Rajasthan one day and so a trip back to Jaipur is definitely in my future.

We had our final breakfast with Manisha today.  It was bittersweet meal.  We have truly enjoyed starting off our days with her.  She's such a lovely woman who is very smart and articulate as well.  Today, I finally got a glimpse of her famous artist husband.  He definitely a much more private person and as much as I would have loved to have him give me a tour of his studio, I had too much respect for his privacy to even ask.

We had finished packing our luggage before we headed down for breakfast so while we were eating, Manisha had one of her helpers bring down our suitcases.  It was one last visit to the bathroom before we made our way to the street.  We decided to give Uber a shot instead of taking either a taxi or a tuk-tuk.  Typically, I would call the driver, as they near where I'm standing, to tell them exactly where I was standing, waiting for them.  Today, we didn't have that luxury so I told Chantale we needed to stand as close to the road as we could and hope that the driver would spot our suitcases.

Sure enough, I saw a car, on the opposite side of the road slow down and stop.  I took a guess that was our driver and we darted across the street to check him out.  Uber?  He nodded.  The driver then got out and put our luggage in the trunk.

I had booked us on the 11:20a flight on IndiGo Airlines to Delhi.  It was the same airline we took to get to Jaipur.  We had factored in plenty of time to get to the airport and we arrived with plenty of time to get checked in.  Thankfully, we did have time because Chantale's suitcase got flagged after the security scan.  Obviously, something looked suspicious.  At first, the security officer wanted to know if she had her external battery bank in the suitcase.  Then began the rummaging around her suitcase.  You cannot imagine just how many bits and bobs of things - mainly having to with her camera, in there!  She even has a blower that looks like a space rocket!  Talk about something that will call attention to her her suitcase!  It took a few more scans and searches to finally identify the object which turned out to be a non-issue.  It then took a few more minutes for Chantale to repack her suitcase and then we were on our way.

Flash forward and we're stepping inside Terminal 1 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.  While we were waiting for our checked in luggage to come out on the carousel, I walked around in search of signs pointing to the Airport Metro Express Line.  My plan was for us to take the train into the city versus a taxi.  Delhi traffic is notoriously congested so taking the train is actually a much more time (not to mention energy) efficient transport option.

By the time I found out the information I needed, Chantale had already retrieved our luggage.  We had to take the short walk from Terminal 1 (domestic) to Terminal 3 (international) to catch the shuttle bus to the metro station.

We asked around for which bus to catch and after a couple of tries due to translation issues, we finally directed to board the correct bus that would take us to the Aerocity Metro station.  Our bus ticket cost us 30 rupees each....less than 50 cents!

I noticed that we were the only non-Indians on the bus....not a surprise.  It was a surprise to notice that including Chantale and I, there were only 3 women on the bus.  For a few seconds, I wondered if there was a separate bus for women?  No one, even the conductor, said anything to us about being on the *wrong* bus so I just ignored my observation and sat back for the ride to the metro station.

The ride turned out to be a really short one.  Everyone on the bus got off so we followed them.  We retrieved our luggage from the under bus storage area and made our way inside the station, following the other bus passengers.  I knew we had to buy our ticket and there were automated kiosks where we could have easily made our purchase but since the line for the counters was not a long one, I recommended to purchase our tickets there.  No need to have to worry about having exact change or correct bills as kiosks often require you to have.

For another 30 rupees each, we got tokens that would allow us inside the station.  The first token we placed above the reader didn't work. We tried a second time to confirm and it failed again.  It was back to the counter to get a new token.  With some guidance from station attendants, we made our way to the correct platform.

The train arrived in no time and we boarded a very modern and very clean carriage.  Most importantly, it was airconditioned!!  Even though the temp was not set low, it was a welcomed relief to have a bit of cool air.

It was really cool how the station stop status information was displayed on a lighted bar between the train sections.  We had to get off at Shivaji Stadium which was just a few stops away and from there, we would walk the rest of the way to the apartment.  From the airport to Shivaji Stadium, it was about a 20 minute walk to our apartment.

Once we exited Shivaji Stadium metro station, I fired Google Maps and navigated us to our apartment.  Along the way, we stopped at a Kwality Walls ice cream cart and treated ourselves to some kulfi before continuing on our walk.  I knew the apartment was located in a small side street and had thought it would be a challenge to find but having seen a Google Street view of the place, it was easier to spot the street than I had expected.  The house itself did not have a street number posted outside but eagle eyed Chantale figured out which one it was based on the number of the next door house.  We ran the door bell and a man, who appeared a guard opened up the front gate.  We introduced ourselves and he acknowledged that he was waiting for us.  Based on his halting words, I quickly realized his English was not all that good.  We did find out his name.  Islam.  That's an easy one not only to remember but pronounce!  Islam took our luggage and let us up to the top floor where our apartment was.  We entered in to a really nice place - nothing fancy but very comfy.  Islam showed us the basics e.g., how to turn on the airconditioners, how to turn on the water filter in the kitchen, and the ever so important WiFi password.  As it turns out, we had access to 3 routers.  Hopefully, they are are fast!  After Islam left, I shot a quick video of the apartment.

It was then time to settle in.  The day is not yet over.  There's time to squeeze in at least one sightseeing spot before dinner.

Happy to be back in Delhi!!