Warning, no video or images in this post…And it’s long.
I arrived late in New Delhi (India), It was about 11pm, my uncle Don must be waiting for me at the gates. They announced over the intercom, by regulation they needed to spray us with a chemical disinfectant… I put my sweatshirt hood on backwards over my face as they danced around spraying toxins out of black spray bottles with skulls on them…. keep in mind that I had my face covered the whole time, so this poisons dance was only in my head. In reality I’m quite sure febreze was what the staff were wielding. Stepping out of the plane I was greeted with the heaviest air I had yet to know (to my surprise air can get thinker, almost a jello consistency…But not quite as tasty. looking back I wonder why I bothered covering my face in first place. The air was think, hot and smelled of disinfectantand it actually only got worse as I ventured deeper into new delhi, but I’ll leave the air quality alone for now.
Before getting my luggage I raced down the ever extending hallway to a queue. I stood in line and waited for my turn to hand my customs paper and passport to the man behind the counter. I (being a fast walker) made it way ahead of the other passengers.
Speed as it turns out is not faster then wisdom. I was handed another form and was sent out of the queue to join another, waiting to use the one pen that was still attached to a counter.
Finally filing out the parts of the form that I could, I returned to the non pen queue and waited. I chose the wrong line, it was slightly longer then the rest, but it had two extra workers.
Logically I thought that three times as many people will pass through this bottleneck as the others. What I didn’t take into consideration was that the counter I was standing before had an infinite amount more probably of someone taking a break… as you can’t really stop managing a queue if your the only one in the booth.
As it turns out, if none of the fields are marked as mandatory then all the fields are mandatory. I was sent back to the pen queue (at this point it was not a queue at all) with a bit of a dilemma…. I had to put in a phone number… But my phone was disconnected . . . . Well it’s still my phone number I thought…. Well that was not so bad, next dilemma, address in India.
Well this was a conundrum. I tried to access the internet to check my email or to look on Google maps… all airlines have this free internet access, all you have to do is give them your email address…. not in India, here you need to provide a phone number so they can call or sms you to give you the code.
The idea I went with was to write down whatever you remember.
The address I left on that paper was something like “kulu ##### new friends colony” #### being illegible scratched out markings on the paper.
I headed back to the counter with my paper in hand, ducking under the snake like barrier that once held humans back from storming the counter. Handing the document across the desk, the man read the form and a smile came across his face “where is this?” Kullu I said, he corrected my typo. He stared at the address, laughed asked a co-worker if he knew where it was… General consensus was “no”, asked about a number… I didn’t know. Asked me for another address and I said I had none.. bed looked me in the eye, smiled and said ok you can go through with a bit of a smile.
I headed straight to get my bag, some people were still washing for their bag to show up, and I stood with them as my bag was no where to be seen.One by one people left with their luggage, until it was me standing with two family’s. Our must be a common occurrence because the man who we needed to see came to us and we all explained our case. In the end after about an hour later I had a form filed with my details and a number I was to call when I get access to a phone.
Coming out of the airport I looked around for Don…. He was nowhere to be found. I walked up and down the airport looking for him…. he’s gone I thought. Maybe he’s outside… I stepped outside passing the guards, no sign of him. I turned around to go back in but the guards wouldn’t let me. I was directed to jet airways lost luggage area.
Passing by groups of passengers sleeping on the floor I eventually found this lounge area that contained a few booths for lost luggage. At least there was no line… only one person at the counter. Two seconds after I lined up, two people decided they would stand in front of me. Not sure if I cut them off I let it happen.
Finally the cutters are about to finish and a random guy walks up to the booth and starts asking about something. My phone is about to sure, Don for all I know it’s anywhere and I’ll be sleeping here if I don’t step up. Putting my hand down loudly looking directly at him and saying “NO!” As if I’m disciplining I dog I’m the squatting position, while standing on your bed.
Then very loudly I start pleading my case to the girl behind the counter. The man continued to talk although at this point no one was listening to him.
The lady tried to set up internet I my phone, but I don’t think she quite knew what she was doing. I ended up seeking help from the guards from in front of the lounge, she asked me if I had his number, which I didn’t… But then she asked if it could be on my phone and I realized that Skype stored messages on my phone, and Don had sent me his number about two months ago.
She tried to find a phone I could use, but no one would let me. I thanked her and told her I had an idea. I forced jet airways to make a long distance call to Don’s Kullu number, I wasn’t taking no for an answer explaining that they got me into this situation and they were going to help me get out.
Don as it turns out was still waiting for me, he was just about to leave so it was good timing. He was waiting outside beside a pillar in a sea of people. We met, walked through the chaotic streets to the taxi driver he had waiting (this taxi had been with Don for 8h that day and ended up costing about 25$).
We drove to Rani’s place without my bag to sleep through my first night in India.