Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Delhi - What Were We Thinking? (Arrival)

I started to get a bad feeling about the trip right away when we touched down in Delhi. It was around 2am, and the only thing we could see out the airplane windows was smog.

Not having much choice in the matter at this point, we deplaned and made our way through customs and immigration without hassle. At the end of customs area were many people waiting for visitors with signs. As planned, we found our name on a sign, but there was no one standing with it. We waited a few minutes, and someone walked over near the sign and kept glancing at us. I figured it might be our guy, but I wasn't sure, so I prompted him for who he was looking for, but he didn't want to answer. Eventually he gave us the name of the hotel he was with, which was where we’d made reservations. We still weren't 100% sure we had the right guy, so we spent a harrowing 30 minutes in the car hoping we weren’t about to see the place outside of town where they take tourists to rob and murder them.

We were also worried about the lack of seatbelts, and the fact we were tracking the white line down the middle of the street perfectly with the middle of the car. And frankly, the areas we were driving through did not look like the downtown of a big city, but more like a slum. This heightened the fear that we were being taken out of town, rather than to our hotel.

When we finally arrived, they brought us inside and told us that our hotel was out of space, so they passed us off onto another hotel that had their blessing. This was not entirely unexpected from the emails, but still a bit unnerving. Especially for Josh, who hadn't seen the email that suggesting that this might happen. When we got to the next hotel, our driver got out and knocked on the big glass door. A guy got up from a pile of blankets on the floor, pulled a chair over to the door, and stood on it to unlock the door. He let us in, showed us our room, and wanted our passports. I’m used to handing over my passport at hotels in Europe, but this was frightening. He had us leave them just sitting out on the front desk, where he assured us that they would be perfectly safe. I could see another homeless person sleeping behind the desk. Holy cow, what kind of place is this?

We were too agitated at first to go to sleep, and stayed up asking ourselves questions like, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” and “How much do you think it would cost to get a flight back home for tomorrow?”

Once we finally calmed down enough to think of sleep, we were very glad to have the travel sheets.

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