OMG, for a fleeting moment I wondered if I was getting an upgrade. But No, of course not, they just wanted to make sure I had a visa for India before they’d let me on the plane.
The plane was totally chokka from Auckland to Singapore and it was one of the super jumbos. Not pleasant – enough said. Had a great flight from Singapore to Mumbai though. Unusually the plane was very light. I was right down the back and that section had 90 seats and only 14 people. It makes a huge difference to the comfort level.
I dithered about domestic flight options but was advised to leave as much time as possible to clear customs. And wouldn’t you know it – empty flight, sped through customs as if it wasn’t there and there is no one at the IndiGo counter for my domestic flight. A wee fella phoned someone and said wait 5 minutes. That was 35 min ago. Oh yeah Welcome to India J
Part of the problem is that it was only 11.40 when I arrived and my flight was not until 5.30pm the staff are probably off watching the cricket.
Bugger I just got charged IR1500/NZD33 for excess baggage. Seems they make no allowance what so even for international customers. I guess it could have been worse, Air NZ charges way more than that!
The airports here (I’m now in the domestic terminal) seem highly organised I’m sitting next to a free cell phone charging station. So I’m making use of that. India is full of the most amazing contrasts. All this available technology (well theoretically, I couldn't actually get onto the free WiFi) and yet there is a man rushing about bellowing at the top of his lungs for the last passengers to Bangalore.
It’s hot, 31 degrees, and there are great clusters of people grouped 20 deep around the TV sets watching the cricket. I also got wanded coming through security and it picked up my fitbit. First time that’s happened!
Ok, 42 hours after leaving home I am now in Kolkata (Calcutta) in a fabulous 5 star hotel room.
Driving from the airport to the hotel I couldn’t help but laugh. The traffic is every bit as bonkers as I had remembered and then some. I held my breath a few times but only shut my eyes once as we shot a gap that cleared vehicles on either side by a mere 2 inches. The taxi (as they all are) was pretty shonky and a few times it sounded like we were dragging something vital along behind us. The air con was having all 4 windows open and allowing every bit of dust, exhaust and heat in.
We passed a bus that had a sign on the back saying obey the road rules and blow your horn. What rules? My taxi driver was legend. Actually I think he was a frustrated rally driver roaring into tiny wee gaps, breaking as we almost touched the tail pipe of the car in front and tooting like a maniac the whole time. The best way to give you a feel for it, is for you to imagine that you are driving in a stock car demolition derby with extras: 3 lanes of careening, swerving vehicles, pedestrians walking randomly in the middle, bicycles with no lights, buses swerving across your bonnet, intersections that look like a giant game of chicken, tooting like mad and even a man on a bicycle sitting facing the wrong way in the middle of 3 lanes of oncoming traffic. Oh and at the traffic lights (the ones they stop for) the taxi drivers turn the engine off and all of a sudden it goes dead quiet – weird. As I said it made me laugh and I felt completely comfortable. Welcome to India.