Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Arrival in Delhi
292 from ORD to DEL (link,map) is long, longer than I thought it was possible to go in the air. We left about an hour late after some de-icing which I’ll always gladly wait for. After take off and all we were served a nice meal, of which T and the kids hardly ate anything so I had like 4 portions because I am a gluttonous idiot. A few hours later all the lights were shut off and they passed out some sack lunch type things so that everyone could nosh on their own sleep/wake schedule.
I did manage about 4 x 20 minute naps along the way which for me is pretty good. The thing is that the seats are not tall enough for me to be able to really settle in and even w/ the super specialized neck pillow I bought it was near impossible to get comfortable. I made the decision to sit with the family even though I could have gotten an exit row or bulkhead. That is not a mistake I’ll make again. I love hanging out w/ T and the kids but sitting in regular coach seats for 15 hours is not something I’ll ever do again.
To pass the time I watched a pile of movies but most notably my first 2 real Bollywood productions. I had seen pieces before but never invested the time to actually sit through one start to finish. Up first was Dabanng (link) and it was great. I don’t mean great as in actually great but great as in I was equally entertained and puzzled for like 3 hours which on a flight like that is what you want. Dabang is about a cop with RayBan Aviators (amazingly similar to the ones I brought), a top button unbuttoned to show off his muscle-y hairy chest and one of the top 5 mustaches of all time. As far as the story goes, I don’t have a clue what happened really. He may have been a dirty cop, or a slightly less dirty cop but I know he took money from robbers and shot people sort of indiscriminately. There were some good ‘bullet time’ action sequences and the big main theme song has him doing this dance w/ his belt that you can find here:. Since I have the sunglasses I will do the dance for you upon request (link note the pit stains starting at :39, :55 begins the very very very famous belt dance, 1:12 he dispenses some foot-race justice and it just keeps going)
Up next was a movie I enjoyed un-ironically. 3 Idiots is silly and good without being too much. Not gonna go into the plot cause it doesn’t matter but know that there is plenty of the quirky 'Indian' english, lots of singing and
a big kiss scene at the end. If you are going to watch a Bollywood flick, watch this one. The English is great and full of ‘the needful’ but my favorite was rusticated. I took it to mean expelled but it could have meant constipated, no way to know.
The girls behind me were white, 16, in a church group and silly in a very familiar way. Evangelical Christians teens are awesome in their hardcore earnestness and loud declarations. All that scripted language about being a servant, maintaining purity blah blah blah and truly believing they have the world figured out. Without commentary on religion I'll just say that Christian or not, 16 year old humans are ridiculous.
With 3 hours to go we passed over Iraq and Afghanistan and it kind of tripped me out to think there were wars going on 35,000 feet below me and I said a little prayer to the flying spaghetti monster that the Mujahadeen didn’t have any SAMs left over from the Charlie Wilson days.
Breakfast was delivered about 2 hours before landing. Some clever chef came up with a orange, white and green main dish (India flag..get it?) that I think had some green beans, paneer and some dahl or such. Again, the family ate a fraction so I finished everyone’s food. We got the customs forms and were glad to find that we didn’t need to declare anything. Passport control was no problem and getting our bags took some time but no trouble. The 3 trolleys loaded w/ the baggage were an impressive sight and we rolled through the ‘green lane’ at customs without even a second glance from the very bored looking old man taking the forms.
In the reception hall we found the Hilton representative holding a sign w/ my name and the drivers took over from there handling all the bags. We had some tug of war over who was going to carry what but in the end I just relaxed and let them do everything. It’s a tough thing for me to just let people handle stuff but I am making a commitment now to try.
We wheeled the carts around and tried to check them in w/ Jet Airways but Jet had just cancelled/rescheduled a bunch of flights and had no interest in holding onto our bags. Fortunately the Hilton people brought 2 mini vans and with a bit of engineering everything got loaded.
Out of the airport I finally got the first taste of India, and it tasted like smoke. Despite being 11 PM there were people everywhere and the constant din of horns honking. I'll do a whole article someday on cars and driving but the shrill little 'beep' that every rickshaw and bike uses to signal all manner information is the soundtrack for this trip. The Hilton was super nice and as with everywhere we've been in India, the service was totally over the top fawning by 3-4 people at all times. Security is very tight, they checked our cars throughout when we came in the barred front gate and all our hand luggage went through an x-ray machine. Surprisingly there were Christmas decorations including giant snowmen in the lobby and a snack shop decorated as Santa's workshop selling gingerbread and paneer panini. The room was great and we all loved the shower room walled in with glass that faces in toward the bedroom. Curtains are there for modesty but its odd and we agreed it must be setup this way to allow someone to watch TV while shampooing. I also loved the 'magic' button on the phone.