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May 03, 2009

Dateline India

Random Notes

Got to India late last night. The trip was horribly long especially from Frankfurt to Chennai. The first 4 hours from Phoenix was OK, the 8 hour flight from Philadelphia to Frankfurt was OK, waiting in Frankfurt for 5 hours got a bit tedious, but the almost 9 hour leg from Germany to India makes you want to claw your eyes out. Unfortunately the trip was not quite as long for my luggage as it missed the flight. Should be here tomorrow and I have what I need in my carry on.

The whole Swine Flu thing at the airport was a riot. You get a form when you get off the plane which requires three signatures. Now in India, if you get something that requires one signature much less three, they really mean it. Essentially it asked if you felt ill or not. When I got to Immigration it was jammed with people. No signs about the Swine Flu. Fortunately I am taller than most Indian’s and knew enough to stand back for a minute and see if there was anything odd going on with the crowd. Sure enough I spotted a “clot” of people within the sea of people who were looking inward toward something and not toward the Immigration desks. Ah, ha. I made my way over and found a table with about 5-6 people in masks, rubber stamping the forms. It was total chaos but I waved my form like everyone else and a woman grabbed it and stamped it. Perfect. I have no idea how these Indians knew what with the forms since this flu thing just started just started, but like telepathy following the crowd in India is often times a good idea.. The other Westerners were wandering around like blind people who had lost their seeing eye dog. Maybe it was bad of me but I only tipped off one other tourist about the secret stamping desk. Then about an hour in line and out to baggage. Longest I’ve ever waited at Immigration. The intense crowd guaranteed that if anyone the room had the flu, we all would get it, but all forms were duly signed and filed.

Then no bag. Those of you who know me well know that when I get tired and hungry (like I was in the extreme) I can become an unstoppable, irrational ass. The good thing about the Indians is that they are so sweet and so nice that it is impossible to get upset of angry, even for me. Finally got to bed about 2:30. Another good thing is the service at the hotel. When they found out that I had no other clothes they send someone to my room with me so that I could strip the clothes off my back and get them cleaned while I slept. Slept more or less until noon. Then laid around, still tired. It is 102 degrees here (on the ocean go imagine the humidity) so going out didn’t seem like a great idea. Up north in Delhi is has been 113-114 for several day so I guess we have it good here. The first time I came here 11 years ago the cars weren’t air-conditioned but thankfully that has changed. In fact they get them so cold that your glasses fog up and they have to use the windshield wipers to get rid of condensation on the windshield. It will be miserable at the factory. It is the time of year where if you are in someone’s office they will most likely have a mosquito coil burning full blast to lower the chance of getting Malaria, (not very common anymore). It is nothing to see them set off an insecticide bomb in a hotel lobby so thick you can’t see the hand in front of your face. The normal smell of India is often times a cross of exhaust and insecticide, but last night when I came out of the airport the air was rich with Jasmine. Here in Chennai Jasmine is everywhere. The women wear it in their hair and the small is very very sweet. It was really nice and made me realize that I was truly in Southern India. It was quite comforting

More later

One Response to “ Dateline India ”

  1. battlegraphics Says:

    See, if that was me, I would have figured “Oh, sure, I give them my clothes so in the morning, I will be naked.” Great tale. I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Sicily, which I thought was a long way to go but, no comparison. The worst airport I encountered was JFK in New York. Noisy, dirty, confusing, jammed, no where to sit, unexplained delays. Customs was surprisingly ad hoc, considering security concerns — you’d think we’d have worked this out by now. But lots of shouting, pointing, no signage; they literally beat people up verbally and these were the U.S. citizens! I hope visitors were treated better. Have a good flight back. David in Fort Lauderdale.

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