I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Passage to India

It was....interesting.

I saved this weather forecast from last week because I thought it was funny; I'd never seen “Smoke” as a weather condition before.

And it's still Smoke this morning, although the sun is starting to peek through the dusty haze and I'm leaving shortly for an all-day tour (Another one tomorrow. And the day after that. So I won't post many photos before the end of the week.)

The flight from Abu Dhabi was almost entirely made up of Indian men. By my count there were a total of four women on the plane, and only three non-Indians. Most of the service workers I saw in Abu Dhabi were Indian, so it makes sense that a lot of Indians fly back and forth. But although all of the lunch choices were curries, the flight announcements, like everything else in the Emirates, were given in Arabic and English only. No Hindi or Rajasthani. Many Indians speak perfect English of course, but it still struck me as disrespectful. (And a little dangerous -- when we were taxiing to the terminal in Jaipur, several of the men got up and took out their bags from the overhead bins, ignoring repeated announcements to sit down. Finally one of the Etihad flight attendants sprinted down the aisle and basically pushed them into their seats. I don't know if the men didn't understand or were deliberately disobeying.)

I got delayed at immigration because the fingerprint machine at the e-visa counter couldn't detect any fingerprints on my right hand, and by the time I got to baggage claim, the baggage had arrived and mostly been claimed. Except for mine, which didn't show up until I was halfway through filling out the claim form with the airline offices. Next, I needed some money. I still had 1500 of the 2000 dirhams I got by mistake in Abu Dhabi, so I tried to change them into rupees. No, they were very sorry, Madam, but the most they could change was 300 dirhams, and the smallest bill I had was 500 dirhams.

Okay, is there an ATM?

Yes, Madam, there is an ATM over there, but unfortunately it is not working.

I did have some dollars, so I was able to get a small number of rupees. (A small number was all I needed -- the taxi to the hotel turned out to be the equivalent of four dollars.) The taxi driver grabbed my suitcase, told me to follow him, and I walked out of the terminal into ... India. I can't say that the petty annoyances of travel dropped away -- they were swept away by a tsunami of noise and color and smell. I followed the driver, elbowing my way through the crowds and then walking in the middle of the road, while motorcycles and cars and speedy little vans the size of an armchair zipped past me, miraculously avoiding colliding with each other, or with me. It was overwhelming.

Then we passed a white cow, strolling along the side of the road, and I just started grinning. Yeah, this is India. I hope I'm ready for this.

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