After a long — almost 16 hours — but uneventful flight from Newark, I arrived in Delhi somewhere around 9pm, India time. Within a few minutes of disembarking, I began to experience the legendary bureaucracy that invades even international corporations like United Airlines in India.
After waiting for about an hour for my checked luggage to make its way onto the carousel, the baggage attendants and I agreed that it just wasn’t going to happen. That decision plunged me into another two hours of rubber stamps, carbon papers and forms to be filled (in triplicate, of course). Thankfully, I packed almost all of my essential items in my carry-on, so I’ll be okay for a couple of days. If I don’t recover my big suitcase, however, I’ll need to buy a new winter coat and I’ll lose many of the games and gifts I brought for the children. The suitcase will, allegedly, be delivered to my hotel by end of day tomorrow. That would be nice, but I’m not sure I’m counting on it.
After much ado at the airport, I rented a cab to take me to my hotel in Connaught Place, which appears to be the center of the city. At first glance, Delhi is about 50 year ahead of Calcutta in terms of infrastructure and cleanliness. Then again, it’s dark, and there was little traffic on the road. I will tell you, however, that this 30 minute cab ride was much better than last year’s hour-and-a-half deathmarch through Calcutta traffic sans air-conditioning, sans shock absorber.
The weather here is beautiful. I’d guess it’s about 40F at night. A light fog has descended over the city, and the whole place smells vaguely of incense. I am exhausted, but I can’t wait to get out into the city tomorrow morning to look around.
For now, however, I’m taking advantage of the 24 hour restaurant at my hotel, and I’m enjoying a plate of delicious mutton roganjosh and a basket of butter naan. So far, so good.