Travelling karma is an interesting phenomenon. The ferry trip to the mainland was over calm seas under a moody winter sky in the company of Pacific White sided dolphins surfing on our wake.
The young Indo-Canadian man who piloted my taxi to the airport became incandescent (in a very positive way 🙂 ) when I told him where I was headed. He immigrated to Canada from the Punjab in Northern India and has whole heartedly embraced his new country – Canada rocks! I emerged from the taxi ride with a list of survival tips in Delhi, ranging from which brand of bottled water to buy to how to negotiate streets filled with cows, pigs and other interesting items. We discussed food and the food supply links in the city. Refrigeration is uncommon and many city dwellers grow produce in small areas around their dwellings for their own consumption and to sell at the many markets in Delhi. I was told that I would eat better than anywhere I have been. Once at the Fairmont, an upgrade to to the Gold floor with a member lounge, outstanding view of the runway and strait of Georgia was the icing on the cake 😀 to a very good day.
Next day. After a nominal departure delay caused by offloading the bags of a male passenger whose VISA wasn’t in order :-(. , our heavily loaded 787 taxied and just got off the ground before the runway ended at Georgia Strait in the heavy rain. The passenger left behind turns out was in the seat next to me. The luxury of two premium economy seats to myself was a real pleasure for the 14 hour trip (sorry dude) . Time was spent enjoying excellent Indian meals and snacks, as well as a very nice Syrah, reading and catching up on movies. A couple of them were duds, but Victoria and Abdul (starring Judi Dench) is a gem and highly recommended. The Indian subcontinent greeted us at dawn with a magnificent vista of the Himalayans bathed in a icy blue glow.
Shorty thereafter (in airplane time 🙂 ) – Delhi became apparent on the horizon as an orangey brown cloud, rapidly enlarging into a massive urban sprawl housing 25 million people.
Security was a breeze. Watching people ahead of me in line get fingerprinted and grilled had me ready for a lengthy stay at the customs and Visa check points. A Canadian passport works wonders here, no fingerprinting or grilling, immediate passage through other check points. Just lots of smiles and welcome to India. My minder greeted me at the Exit, along with another Canadian couple on the same G Adventures tour as me. We hit it off right away and spent the hour or so waiting for our transport chatting, exploring how the local payphone systems work
(you use one and the charges get spit out on a tape below which you then take to the attendant and pay him) and trying to stay awake after 24 hrs without sleep. Our ride to the hotel was provided by a group called Women with Wheels. An all girl taxi service catering specifically for female travellers.
The term “assault on the senses” categorizes the trip into Delhi to our hotel. A cacophony of horns, cars and scooters going all different directions at once, smells (good and bad :-))), yelling, music, cows placidly eating garbage in the middle of the road. Dust and fumes everywhere, open air stalls full of fruit, roasting peanuts, and some interesting looking mystery meat…. Love it!!!!
After an hour we arrived at the hotel which is perfect. I have a pool view room on the inside of the hotel, just had a fabulous mulligatawny soup and a glass of Cabernet – life is good.
Tomorrow on to street food and my first foray into the city!