Friday, January 20, 2006

Waiting for my Spice Jet

So, I made it, with one more flight to go and then I see Bethany and start to really experience India. I wanted to say hi to each of you, so I'm doing it in this impersonal way and sending you all a greeting.

I'm sitting in the Bombay International Domestic Airport (yes), waiting for my delayed flight to Goa. I arrived in India last night and it is every bit as crazy as I suspected. People everywhere. A few cows. Tons of traffic. Shanties and shacks built everywhere there is any space to build something. It's completely astounding that things actually function. My hotel was incredibly nice with ten employees grabbing at my baggage the moment I stepped out of the car. They put me on some type of executive floor, where my personal host walked me to my room and then checked me in there. The room was pretty amazing: very Ethan Allen and Bombay Company, with every possible luxury: a bowl of fruit, a teddy bear, a gigantic bathroom with a tub and a shower and so many lights. It was weird, considering I had just been in a car racing (I was surprised) through the streets from the airport, passing clusters of people sitting in the road eating out of metal bowls, women carrying giant parcels on their heads, children playing with sticks and fabric. This was midnight.

From my hotel room I could see the beautiful pool where I relaxed a bit, the waterfall behind it, and the big brick wall that surrounded the hotel. Just beyond the brick wall were shacks and sheets and odd brick structures and fires and people. In the distance were other luxury hotels like mine, a mix of apartment buildings and a haze so dense that the city lights behind it had a muddy glow. I had a great Indian breakfast with yummy aloo parantha and vegetable korma. I also enjoyed the gym and my power workout, followed by a steam with the Turk who thought it simply wasn't hot enough.

I had been warned that I would smell Mumbai when the flight approached, and the cabin indeed filled with a smell of sweat and mustiness. From the airplane, you can see city lights below that never end - they seem to go on forever, beyond any reasonable horizon. Austrian Airline's odd decor seemed to contrast with the browns and oranges outside: walls were light blue, seats turquoise with alternating red and yellow headrests, pillows were bright red and the carpet was light green. It seemed like a good scheme for a pediatrician's office and I was feeling like I was waiting for my first trip to the doctor.

So, now I am in this chaotic airport waiting to go to Goa, which I think will be a bit less insane. The man behind me just belched and then smiled quite satisfied with himself. The sitar music being piped through the loudspeaker is somewhat soothing. It seems nicer than the International International Airport, where rusty fans and falling ceiling tiles greet passengers stepping off the brand new jet ways. I got a mosquito bite waiting to change dollars into rupees. It does make my two days in London seem very quiet and antiseptic.

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