Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Flight from Toronto to New Delhi, India

Flight from YYZ to New Delhi, India

A big name on my bucket list was always India. I listened to many people who have visited and heard mixed reviews of likes or dislikes. It seems there is no middle ground, you either love India or you don't. Since 2017 is a year that adds a 0 to my birthday, and I don't seem to get younger, I thought now is the time to visit and find out where I stand regarding a love for India.
Ready to Take Off

It is a long direct flight from Toronto, ON to New Delhi. Even though we had premium economy seats, after 14 hours my butt ached. We flew over Greenland, the northern parts of Norway, Russia, Uzbekistan and then Afghanistan to reach India. The time change is somewhat of a killer. We left at 9.30 PM and arrived at 9.30 PM, but we arrived the next day.

Route Over Russia & Afghanistan

Entry into India, especially the immigration service is VERY tedious and slow and was made especially difficult by dedicated, yet seemingly incompetent officers or bureaucrats. Even before entering India I had to apply for 2 visas as we were leaving and then returning to India. The process online is arcane and cumbersome. But even having done all the preliminaries, once in front of the immigration officer, having a valid visa in hand, the process to enter India is frustrating. My visa had a picture on it, yet I was photographed again. The fingerprint machine did not work; it took 6 trials to finally get my fingerprints recorded. The whole procedure for me took about 20 minutes, with hundreds of people behind me waiting in line to pass through the same immigration. What further puzzled me is that some officers were much more efficient, I must have drawn the especially inefficient, working by the letter of the book, older gentleman, who sure took his sweet time.

Once past immigration and having collected our luggage, things improved immensely. The New Delhi tour representative, Harry, met us once we stepped out of the confined Airport gate and took over. With the help of the guide, India became a wonderland of how things work. Porters move your luggage, the guide phones the pick-up car to meet you in the predetermined spot and off you go to the hotel. We opted, when we booked our tour, to prepay all tipping. Looking back it was a good policy and made my life a lot easier. We did not tip the porters, he was not allowed to take tips by airport policy and the pickup car driver was tipped by the travel agency. Still, not following the rules, as I am prone to do often, I slipped the porter a tip anyhow. He helped us a lot during the ordeal at immigration. But, I had to be sly about the tipping, video cameras record all transactions and the fellow would have lost his job if the recordings showed that I tipped him. Those rules are strict. Nobody though, watches what the guides do to each other, so our tour guide tipped him outside in my name and I gave the money to the tour guide later, in the bus.

On the way from the airport to the hotel, sitting in the bus, looking out the window I received my first impression of how traffic moves in India. Wow ! It is hard to describe. If there is logic behind it, but I did not get the logic. Driving law specifies driving on the left side on the road, like in Great Britain. But India for sure is nothing, not even close to as organized as that. Mopeds, motorcycles, pushcarts, walking people, animals, objects, road conditions, etc. etc. all add to, what seems to me chaos. Yet traffic flows. I will write more about traffic in some later reports, but my first impression was a question starting to form in my head, “ how does this work “, it seemed impossible that it could work, but please remember, traffic does flow, in fact flows quite rapidly, given the obstacles one has to avoid. After some time I just let the driver do his thing, I forced myself no not look at the traffic and watched the scenery flow by. The way from the airport to the hotel was mostly highway driving and once we got off the modern highways we passed through the embassy section were traffic was light and we made quick progress.
Hotel Lobby From Our Hallway Balcony

Arriving at the hotel we had to pass strict security. The car was thoroughly inspected, even the trunk had to be opened, and the engine compartment had to be popped open for a visual inspection. Upon leaving the car all luggage was x-rayed and I had to walk past a full body scanner. The whole hotel compound was walled and guarded.

Car Inspection Before Entry to Hotel

By the time I reached my nice room and was ready for some sleep it was midnight.

Well, I am in India now, ready for whatever comes my way.

No comments: