Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag First Impressions of Incredible India
25 maart 2015
First Impressions of Incredible India
With a stopover in Dubai, my first taste of the Middle East was a surreal surprise. The lengthy desert which was suddenly zipped together by a large highway, and in that desert what appeared from above luxury complexes with palm trees and swimming pools. The contrast gave a fata morgana impression, while the blue sea and manmade islands seemed like extravagant temptations. International Airports are always a multicultural melting pot but the first core differences could be seen by the drinking fountains and prayer rooms, as well as the general dress code – long outfits and closed slippers. In the waiting lounge of my flight, even the westerners embarking had on bright Salwar Kameez, and the men shiny shoes. Many of the young women wore jeans, something I also brought along as ‘semi-formal’ but what still (even as I sit here typing in a fan-cooled room) find a mission to wear in the midday heat.
Having the most backseat of the plane, where the side aisle is formed by just 2 seats, my first glimpse of Delhi over the shoulder of my neighbor was far from the grueling scene depicted by ‘Holy Cow’. Yes there was some smog, but from above the city looked not much different than one in tropical Africa. The airport was also about the same, and with two East African gentlemen, on separate occasions, kindly ensuring I also had the right paper filled in for customs I felt quite at home. Customs was situated under a row of gold painted hands, each with a different gesture and some with flowers in the palm. I assume some kind of blessing or Hindu prayer. Apart from some head bobbing, which will take me some time to interpret right instead of just imitating the gesture in a lost sense of unity, the man at customs was friendly and I got through fast enough. On the way I had registered for 45 minutes free internet so I managed to send out a few messages that I had made it and also survived without utter angst on the plane (I suffer from a fear of flying, which I may be getting rid of)!
The plane had been delayed at least 30 minutes so I decided to make my way as quickly as possible to the exit and find the taxi who would be waiting for me. Collecting my baggage went just fine, but exiting the terminal I was slightly fazed by the mass of faces waiting. Knowing that the taxi driver was there among them, took a small breather by the glass doors and quickly made out my name on a sign held by a man in a blue shirt. I marched out confidently and waved at the guy who seemed rather confused and turned around to make sure I really meant him, and he then rushed towards me. I apologized to him for being late as my flight was delayed, but he kept looking at the ground and said ‘no, no sorry’. I think those are 3 of the 5 words he said to me in the 3 hours we spent driving around Delhi.
It took us some time to find ‘Comfort Inn’ bed and breakfast, which I recognized although as I expected looked slightly more dusty than the photograph. It was nice enough. I just had to fill out a few forms and was allowed to pick from 2 rooms. I chose the furthers one in the corridor (which is actually more of a balcony, closed off with bars) that had a small desk to type on and where I am happily sitting now, sipping my milky tea for breakfast. The hot water already had milk in it, which is also something from my childhood days – watching the tea become a perfect color with the teabag is actually pretty exciting. Well to me anyway. After dropping my bags I went to the office for a first introduction. The first thing I noticed was the quietness, I almost expected the place would be empty – there were little indications of human presence. Each room I went into I was surprised to see one to 3 people. Of course also immediately noticeable for the respectful nature of addressing each other. The person who commissioned this assignment also came across as a very nice man, even though I most likely made little sense with my jet lagged inability to focus. I really began to feel the lack of sleep at that point, due to the transit and time differences I must have slept about 3-4 hours in total. Luckily I was sent back to the Inn soon after and told I would be picked up the next day around lunch time. Which I rather hope will be arranged for me since I am lacking internet and phone service at the moment of typing this. But with my two bottles of water, one for drinking and the other for my teeth, I am set.
Last night was a strange tumble of dreams mixed with the reality of honking and bells coming from outside. It might have stopped for a little while but that was quickly replaced by some loud music which in my extreme sleepiness I could not make out – either a really loud and large television, or a party going on in the street. Nevertheless, 11 hours after sleeping far too early I finally began to resurface from this lucid state and stare into the triangular bathroom – trying to remember how to shower from a bucket. Not brave enough to shower all cold, I decided find the switch to the boiler which I wasn't sure worked seeing as how I had not managed to turn on the TV either (not a single peep or light to be seen, after trying all the switches in the room and most combinations too). Luckily I had a bit of warm water, which reassured me after realizing I had forgotten to bring shampoo. Cold water just does not tend to greasy airplane hair like warm does…
Incorporating the creativity impulse of all these new impressions into my communication product will be good. Interesting to note while sipping my tea and standing looking through the bars of the balcony, is how little women I actually see on the streets. People actually drive like bats, using sound as both a measure of distance as a form of repelling an accident with another hooter. Women are dressed brightly in long Salwar Kameez or jeans and a long top... or colourful, glittering saris. Especially since I was told to keep my shoulders covered I started to notice that saris, although long, also sometimes show some back and some belly. Interesting to acknowledge. Today is also the first time in four years that I am actually wearing one of grandma’s baggy shirts, the smell both comforting and home-sick, the thought that she is with me on this travel priceless.
So the hooting outside continues, the carpet sellers with their cart full are calling out above the sounds of the cars, and I am going to look through all my 11 books to prepare my mind for the office later. At least now the sound of the fan slightly cocoons me, and will hopefully dry my socks and underwear hanging on the curtain railing…
26 maart 2015 08:29 | Door: Katerina
Hey sis. Wat een verhaal! Ik ben blij te lezen dat je geen doodsangsten hebt gehad in het vliegtuig, heb aan je gedacht. En ik heb je misschien over ons huis zien vliegen toen je net opgestegen was! Weet niet of jij echt in dat vliegtuig zat maar de tijd klopte en de gedachte was leuk:) Ik hoop dat je ook wat vrije tijd hebt om wat koele dingen van new Delhi te zien en goeie foto's voor ons kunt toevoegen:) het lezen van je verhaal heeft me iig even in je wereld daar geplaatst, gaaf om er even bij te zijn! Kisses!!