Monday, February 11, 2008

#1 2008 - February 11th- BRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!

Just when I was sure there would be nothing much new to write about on my journal blog, Indian again comes up with something new!
First of all, I am sitting in my room, quite tired but not aable to sleep, after a lovely 5 ½ hour ride from Delhi to Rishikesh. The room I had last year was in some ways nicer than this one, but this room has other advantages and for now I am happy with where I am.

So, back to my arrival early this morning in Delhi. After an safe and uneventful journey (I started this trip with a very bad head cold which began 2 days before my flight and has been quite annoying- I used up the roll of toilet paper I brought with me before we even got to Amman! So when I got on the plane in Amman, I went into the bathroom and took all of the tissues they had there. This, after culling a horde of toilet paper in the Amman airport!). By the time we were only 2 hours in the flight to Delhi, I had already used this supply up and had to check out the bathrooms again for a fresh supply)

OK…so we arrived in Delhi only to find a mess of a terminal due to renovations, with signs all over proclaiming “A world-class airport awaits you!”. Well, something was awaiting us and it was a throng of people trying to get out of the airport. When we descended the stairs leading to passport control, people were simply swarming all over the terminal hall, up to the staircase, so that people who came later could not even descend and had to wait ON the staircase. Seems that for the hundreds and hundreds of people waiting to leave the airport, there were only 2 clerks on duty, 2 Indian clerks at that, who were in no hurry to go anywhere. It took 1 ½ hours to get through passport control, something which usually takes 10-15 minutes.

I felt bad for the taxi driver waiting for me but there was nothing I could do. And at least the luggage had all arrived by then and I just had to go and pick up my bag where they were all waiting.

Then I went to the bank to get money changed…waited on line about 15 minutes, only to be told when I got to the window “Sorry Madam, I have no more money left!”… So I went over to Thomas Cook, paid a handsome fee, and changed some money before heading out to my taxi. And sure enough, a nice driver with a “welcome Jane” sign was waiting for me. I apologized for the delay but he didn’t seem phased in the least. And then we headed out into the Delhi COLD. And I mean COLD! It couldn’t have been more than 5 degrees outside, and I was certainly not dressed for it. We finally got to the taxi, and the first thing the driver, named Deshraj, did, was pull out a full size very warm woolen bed blanket from the boot and give it me to cover up in the car. It truly saved my life…I was wrapped in the two shawls I had with me but this was not enough. Together with the blanket, I lay down and feel asleep…I had not managed to sleep at all on the plane which was also freezing. By about 10 in the morning it started to warm up, but the truth is, it is cold here and I will have to buy some kind of warm jacket.

And now to sleep…I am done in but very happy. Will finish this up later on today.

I slept soundly for a couple of hours and will now continue the story of the first day. This driver was superb, one of the best I’ve had in India. The trip was comfortable, not “jerky”, and quite fast as he was an expert in sizing up the situation on the road and passing whenever possible without taking undue risks. The thing I found most interesting thought about the ride, was the new roadworks being done all over India, and the roads from Delhi to Rishikesh are no exception.

First he took me on a new “road” which most people don’t know about which bypasses the main highway for about ½ of the journey. It runs right along the Ganga and is quite lovely. It was basically a strip of asphalt about the width of 1 ½ cars, with “shoulders” on either side of the road made up from bricks laid into the sand. Every time a car came from the other direction, or he had to pass, ONE of the cars had to get partially off the road onto the shoulders. It was fascinating to see this work without arguments or anger, and most of the way I slept anyway. When I woke up he was so proud to show me this new road. And then, when this road ended and we got back on the main thoroughfare, he was even more excited and proud to show me the roadworks in progress to make this two lane highway into a 4 lane “real” highway. Meaning 2 lanes in each direction. By next year it should be done.

When I arrived at Swiss cottage, it was truly a homecoming, and Amir, the guy in charge, handed me a beautiful flower arrangement to my great surprise. Coming home to friends is a wonderful feeling. There was hugging all around, still lots of guys here from last year. I’ve since found the things that were missing in the room and made a small list for Amir and just now, 5 minutes after giving him the list, everything showed up in the room, aside from the heater which is on the way from the Narayana spa resort. (By the time I came down to post this the heater was already working in the room and everything is toasty warm.)

And that is it for today.

As I said, I am tired, not really over my flu symptoms yet, but happy and looking forward to resting for a couple of days and then getting out and about.

I am going to now try posting this directly to the blog at the internet cafĂ© and I will soon see if “shlepping” the laptop all the way to India was worth the effort. Perhaps tonight I will turn on my heater, get under my 2 quilts and blanket, and watch a movie!

My love