The worst part of flying is both the take off (we’re not going fast enough!!!?!) and landing (we’re tilting too far to the left!!!). Luckily for me, it was all broadcast on the two televisions that hung in the aisles of Air India, who so kindly attached cameras to the front and belly of the plane. You know when you feel the plane tilt to one side or the other? Well, now we could all see it. I think this was the first flight I’ve actually considered pulling out my puke bag. It was rocky from the start. Aside from our plane zigzagging down the runway, fifteen minutes into my movie, my screen froze. I thought it’d correct itself, but nooo, that would have made my flight the tiniest bit enjoyable. I’m incredibly happy I’m flying a different carrier on my way home in the fall!
After we landed, I was approached immediately by a guy saying, “Kathmandu? Kathmandu?” Even though my flight wasn’t for another 26 hours, I said yes I am going to Kathmandu. He directed me to pass through customs, collect my bag and go directly to Departures. Delhi’s airport has poor directions. Nobody could point me in the right direction. So I took my chances and went through the ‘exit,’ since ‘departure’ was nowhere to be seen. As soon as I exited I was directed to go upstairs. It was departures, but I was refused entrance since my flight was on Saturday. I kindly explained that I was directed to come here, and then they told me to go back downstairs and wait there in ‘arrivals.’ After an hour there, another man approached and started questioning me about my flights – I explained I was meeting a group in the evening at 11 (it was 7 am at this point) and he told me I couldn’t wait there and I had to go upstairs to departures.
Please note: “Departures” is an area not connected to the airport. You have to have a ticket to get into Departures. E-tickets don’t count. If you have a layover, you have to pay 80 Rupees to sit in the crappiest area without anything there, not even a bathroom. It’s just a room with chairs. Luckily I found a restaurant down the way to sit in (with purchase of beverage), but I’m starting to get pretty sleepy (couldn’t sleep on the plane because the seats were so uncomfortable) and there is a sign that says no sleeping. I am thinking 80 Rps isn’t such a bad deal for a plastic chair to kick back in. But you have to buy a ticket downstairs…
Unfortunately I found out shortly after that you can only purchase a ticket to sit in the ‘departures’ area 8 hours before your flight. So I have 12 hours to go.
Strange things in India I’ve noticed:
No systems of organization or management, whatsoever, between workers.
No T.P. in the bathroom, not even at the airport (at least in the ‘waiting’ area). But they have a paper towel lady for all of your hand drying needs.
They have Wi-Fi, but you have to have a cell phone in order to access it.
You don’t have to throw things away, any open place will do.
Seventy games of solitaire later, my friend Ryan finally arrived. The rest of the group was supposed to arrive only an hour after him, so we stayed in the arrival area and played a few games of cribbage over giant bottles of water. About an hour after our group was supposed to have walked through customs and join us, we went to the bar to brainstorm all of the possible reasons why they were not in Delhi or how we would contact them to figure out what to do. By around 4 am and no sign of the rest of the group, we figured they had missed their flight and we would just meet them in Kathmandu. So we finally got to go into ‘departures’ and take a seat. Right before our flight was supposed to leave, our group casually strolls down the stairs! Oh my lanta, that was a sight to see! I think I even stood up and cheered. A short flight later, we were at our final destination.
When you fly into Kathmandu, you’ll see broken down airplanes right next to the runway and a half built airport. Then, as soon as you go through customs, hundreds of Nepalese hackle you for their taxi or bus service or try to help carry your bags. Luckily for us, the Guest House arranged a van and we were escorted safely to our home for the next few weeks. Going through the gates to the hotel was a complete 180 compared to the streets we had just driven through.
We have green courtyards with mango trees and tropical flowers, and everything is relatively clean. My roommate, Liz, and I settled into our room and headed to our first ‘family’ lunch. I tried the banana pancakes, which were so good! I love with pancakes have that crispy outside! While everyone went out to explore for a while before dinner, I crashed hard back in the room and barely made it to dinner. At dinner, we met two gentlemen who will be helping us with networking for our research and getting internships set up around the city. Some people will be at hospitals, while others will be at elementary schools. But first tomorrow we will be going on a tour of the city!