This is far from my first trip to the motherland, but each time has its own challenges and complications. It’s the one expectation its safe to have.
Our arrival was pretty seamless: customs and immigration was a breeze but it’s always made more invigorating by the stern-faced, naturally suspicious immigration officers. It could go either way. Will I get the green light or be asked to step into some fluorescent-lit room in need of painting? So far I’ve managed to dodge the room.Our bags were out early on the carousel and aside from a limitation on how much money we were allowed to exchange – India is “restructuring” their economy by removing certain denominations – we were on our way.
Then there was our ride to the hotel, or rather our expectation of a ride. it was our understanding that the hotel would provide a shuttle. After a few phone calls, hang ups and bad connections we found a taxi stand and ordered a car. It’s about 2 AM by the way. We were also told we could purchase an Indian burner phone at the airport. Incorrect. Please try again.
Despite the expected glitches, we arrived at our beautiful western-style hotel around 3:30 AM. Big lobby, lots of mirrors and contemporary furniture, 11 floors of rooms – ours is on the ninth – and glass elevators with little hallways in them to reach the appropriate floor.
But India is a study in polarity. Our room is clean and modern. Firm but comfortable bed, 2 pillows each – a true luxury here – a rain shower, A/C and a blow dryer. Then there’s the peeling veneer on the door, the older curtains, the view of a vacant lot littered with trash and the always suspect water.
The basement floor of this hotel has a bazaar set up. We have only viewed it from the glass box that conveys us up and down, but the items look familiar, brightly colored and probably made for temporary use. We avoid it.
Instead we head to the cafe for some masala chai and breakfast, at 2 PM – time change. As soon as we are seated, amongst many people who appear to be Indian, the music comes on and it is Maroon 5. It’s for us. We appreciate the gesture.
Now with full bellies and an appropriate level of caffeine we take the glass box back up to the room.
A nap feels imminent.