3pm Friday Nov 18th, I finally got my visa so the trip that was feeling like it might not happen was definitely going to happen. I raced home from the Indian consulate at 52nd and Madison back to Brooklyn to finish packing and charging batteries etc.
I got some sleeping type pills but they were so small I thought how could they ever deliver the punch I was so desperately in need of with 17 or so hours of flying ahead of me.
At the airport I do my usual smile and undo my shirt to try and get an upgrade to business, I say “but I’m working for the UN to help women” but it seems Emirates is not interested and the flight is full, they would help if they could but they just can’t. Okay no worries but a bulkhead would be appreciated.
This is a big flying bus, it’s one of the new airbus 300’s (I think that’s what it’s called. I’m in seat 65 and I feel like I’m walking for about 10 min until I get there. I take my seat and prepared to take off. The little girl next to me does not appear to want me to enjoy this flight though. She is in the seat, out of the seat and back in. Seatbelt on then off, then on then off. You get the picture.
This plane really seems to lumber down the runway and when it appeared we were going about 60 mph it slowly starts to get some air and then just goes up up and away.
I would love to tell you that I can remember watching a move, I’m sure I did but at this point I’m not sure what I saw on this particular flight. I will tell you that in the many hours I was flying I watched two movies. The Woody Allen movie about Rome and some movie about a kid that grows out of the lawn in the backyard, that is it….I think.
Here is why I can’t remember, so remember that little pill? Well it sure packed a punch. I took it about an hour into the first flight from JFK>;Dubai and with about half a glass of wine next thing I know I wake up and we have about an hour and a half till landing. What the Garsh darn! How did that happen? That has never happened to me before, I was sure I was out for about 45 min tops in fact if someone had asked me and I had to bet on it that is what I would say. I felt good, a little groggy but not too bad and very grateful that I missed most of the flight. Of course I did miss all those great movie options.
Dubai was really just a change of flight. By the time I got to the gate they were already boarding so now I’m on the flight from Dubai to Delhi. This is about 2.5 hours if I remember correctly.
With all the time changes by the time I landed in Delhi it was Sunday morning at 4am or maybe it was Saturday morning at 4am. Okay confession here, I have no idea what day it is. I think it might be Thursday today but I am honestly not sure what day it all began on and that has a lot to do with some jetlag as well as a lot of 4am wake-ups but I can get to that later. I should say that I’m writing this in a small little hotel in a little town called Mudhol it’s about 12 hours by train (overnight) from Bangalore but that’s not important right now. I just wanted to let you know that it’s taken me about 5-6 days to finally get on top of the jet lag to start writing so it’s catch-up time.
Back to the airport in Delhi, I made it through customs and it was at this point that I noticed my long awaited Visa was only a single entry even though I had requested a multi. This means that once I leave India I am not able to return on this trip and that kind of suck but oh well.
I go to the carousel and quickly realize that my tripod that Foto Care has so graciously loaned me was broken and this I might add is the first time I have any equipment broken. I think I will take some responsibility for this but only a bit. I had essentially strapped the tripod to the side of my backpack luggage. It was all locked on tight and not going anywhere. When I picked it up the tripod was still there but the head was missing. Turns out it was just in my bag. They had somehow managed to break the bolt that holds the head to the main body of the tripod. I was pissed since I was really on the fence about bringing it and now it was looking as though I might need to drag a lame tripod around India with me for the next three weeks. I tried to complain to the officials at the airport but after wasting about an hour I had enough I was now tired as hell and could not see straight. I also had to contend with finding a hotel since the one that the UN had told me to contact was already booked and there was no way I could find another one with the few hours I had to pack and leave NYC. (Great story coming up about how I managed to fix the tripod. Better, stronger and well just better and stronger!
I found a travel desk and book myself a room at the Hotel Vikram, Do you know it? It’s a lovely place in Delhi on the ring road in Lajpat Nagar. Check it out if you get there sometime.
The cab ride to the hotel was fun. It’s always amazing those first few minutes when you emerge from the sterile environment of the airport to the city that awaits you and Delhi is certainly a city unlike just about any. I was lucky since it was still very early and traffic had not really begun to happen yet. Even without traffic good reader I can assure that driving in Delhi and I would soon find out everyplace I have been in India is very similar. I can only describe it as an almost slow motion version of chaos. There appear to be no rules of the road and yet there also seems to be very few accidents and if they do happen they are all slow speed at best. Lanes are only suggestions speed limits are rarely reached and honking is the norm but unlike the west when you honk here it’s more of a gentle excuse me I’m here and coming through vs. in the west it’s more like “garsh darn you get out of the way. Horns in the west are often accompanied by a single ginger from ones hand in India It’s more defense and in the west it’s more offense. Once you can accept that then you can really get into the flow. Of course the constant horns do become a bit annoying. I find myself wondering why all the honking since we are all going in the same direction but then I remember they are just letting the other guy know they are there.
I check into the hotel for the two and a half days. The half day was since I arrived at around 5:30 am and check in was not until noon so I had to pay a bit extra and I was fine with that since I was dying to lie down for a bit. When I awoke I called a few contacts but they were busy so my next goal was to try and fix the tripod. Aha I just figured it out, this must have been Sunday since most places in the city for photography kinds of things were closed. I was told by the hotel there was a bunch of photo places that could perhaps fix the tripod near. So off I go with camera in hand (Fuji X-100) thanks FotoCare. I thought this would be a good time to test drive this little camera that everyone has been raving about. I walk down the dirt road all the while dodging the constant buzz of 125cc Hero Honda motorbikes, imitation Vespas and a whole host of other cars, truck, rickshaws, bicycles’ and busses. Place after place I go and ask if they could help me but nobody can. They are happy to give me directions to the next market or store down the road. Eventually on the way back I come across a little camera store where a kind man took it upon himself to try and fix the thing. We walked all the way across the street (8 ft) to another guy working on some propane looking tanks and some other things. He seemed like a good possibility to have the tools needed. He did manage to get the setscrew off so I could re-attach the head to the tripod. They told me that it was permanent and that it would not be able to be removed. I thought “great” I don’t need the trouble of it coming off and now I can use it.
My next project for the day was to go to the Chandi Chook market. To get there I would need to take the subway/train system. I’ll let you know how that went on the next update.
In the mean time here are a bunch of photos from the first week.