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08/31/2015

A journey in Maharashtra

6:30 AM, Dadar station, Mumbai

Inde,Maharashtra,voyage,Aurangabad,Dadar

 Somewhere on the way, in Maharashtra countryside 

inde,maharashtra,voyage,aurangabad,dada

7 hours later, in Aurangabad station 

inde,maharashtra,voyage,aurangabad,dada 

Work, work

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10 PM, Aurangabad airport 

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08/03/2015

If you go to Delhi...

Be ready!

 

Mumbai-Delhi. Two cities ten times the size of Slovenia each. Two thousand kilometers. Two hours by plane. Sixty flights per day. Nothing insurmountable! Except that it requires a bit of anticipation. If the delays are not what they used to be a few years ago, they are still frequent between these two mega-cities: when it’s not the fog in Delhi it’s the rain in Mumbai...

 

For an appointment at 4:15 PM, I had therefore planned carefully. I would arrive at 1:10 + something unexpected (a one hour flight delay) + 40 minutes by taxi + something unexpected (almost anything that could happen on the road and block us 30 minutes) and I still had a 45 minutes safety gap...

 

Except that... While it had not rained for more than three weeks, nature unleashed in the night before myindia,mumbai,delhi,flight,gurgaon,traffic departure! Naively, I thought I could still take a rickshaw but upon the advice of my favorite Indian I booked a Uber (a first!), and left early. I could only get a SUV and thank God for that: the water level was so high that only our car could pass in some passages, where rickshaws drivers, stuck in the middle of the street with water up to the waist, were forced to push their vehicle on the side. And we, while water was coming under the door, we drove through, pushing water as a backhoe snow! Which enabled me to 1. Arrive at the airport and 2. Arrive at the airport in time, and even a little bit early. Early enough to take the time to call back the driver after realizing I had forgotten my umbrella in his car – since it is not permitted to exit the airport after check-in in India, it is the guard who had to go get it for me, the driver having some difficulties locating me behind the glass door! And early enough to buy a phone charger since mine had gone missing. So here I was, finally ready for the flight!

 

One hour delay at the time of boarding... How grateful I am for my foresight!

 

Two hours delay at the time of take-off... Why on earth didn’t I book an earlier flight?? Okay, don't panic. There is still a small chance that the traffic on the Delhi-Gurgaon road is not huge in early afternoon and that there is no major incident...

 

Finally I land in Delhi. I jump in a radio-taxi. We rush to Gurgaon and reach in 25 minutes! I am fifteen minutes early which means I can pee, pump some milk, freshen up, put my jacket on. Before all that I inform the desk that I am around, just so they know... An employee comes to meet me immediately and make me follow him. Before I know it, I find myself in the meeting room (hungry, with a full bladder, dishevelled, fearing breast engorgement, my shirt protruding from everywhere, in short completely lost in translation!).

 

My instructions were strict for this meeting: whatever happens, be on time – German-Swiss take time very seriously. Taking this into account, I had calculated that I should be ready to leave by 5.30 PM (it was planned to last 75 minutes max) and could book a return flight at 7:45. How surprised was I to realise it was 5:55 when I left the room! But no need to get excited, with the delay I experienced in the morning, there is no chance that my flight is on time!

 

india,mumbai,delhi,flight,gurgaon,trafficDespite the craziness of the traffic jam (these I-don’t-know-how-many-lanes of cars are very impressive on this road), I arrive at 6.45 at the airport, sharp one hour in advance... Except that I am on the phone with a colleague and he won’t stop talking. Which is makes it very uneasy to show my e-ticket to the guard... Ten minutes later, I finally hang up and I am immediately told that I am at the wrong terminal! I had completely zapped that Jet Airways flights are not operated with other domestic flights... There seems to be no end to this day!

 

Another walking-in passenger then offers me to use his car, which leaves me somewhat puzzled. He assures me it’s not a problem, it’s his office car and anyway I won’t find a taxi at the departures... By the time I decide whether to take up the offer, the guard urges me “there, a taxi! Go go!” I spot a white car which is about to leave and stops it. I ask if this is a taxi, and if he can take me to Terminal 3. No problem!! As I can’t see a meter, I assume I will have to pay a bomb but it does not matter, I just want to go home! I still ask the driver what kind of taxi this is and the answer is weird: taxis booked online by companies, especially for foreigners. Well... Twenty minutes later I'm at the right departure gate, and not even late, my flight was announced to depart with delay at 8:30 PM. When I ask the driver how much I owe him, he answers – wait for it – “nothing, it was my pleasure to help you”. Bah ?? Wait wait wait. Am I really in Delhi? The city with a terrible reputation? And two men offer to help me in the same day? I love my life!

 

I landed in Mumbai with one hour delay. Found a taxi and got home in an acceptable time considering the weather conditions. It is 11 PM and I'm dead...

07/27/2015

Indian version of the dream 'getting out naked'

You know that you have been living in India for a long time (and that you have watched too much of Game of Thrones) when you have the following nightmare:

You are in a rickshaw following your husband, driving his bike. At the signal you get down – for some reason you are wearing the same night-wear as in reality, a grey t-shirt, except that instead of stopping at your waist it goes  mid-thigh. You give a big cheek kiss to your favourite Indian and he almost pushes you away – a normal behaviour with many Indian men who fear public displays of affection (see this post) but not this one (you’ve not married him for no reason!).

A bit distraught you go back home, some kind of slum habitation, two-three rooms with mud walls and a plastic tarp for a room, in which you have just moved in after leaving your current apartment. There you rummage frantically through your cupboard, looking for your brown salwar (some kind of ‘Aladdin’ pants Indian women wear under their tunics).

Two men arrive and you hide. Then you think that you have done nothing wrong and therefore they can’t do anything against you! The confidence level is back, and so high that you go and tickle the three bulky guys who stand guard: “you and with your big-muscles and your tiny-brain you are not scaring me!”

Keeping calm, they just answer: “it’s not us you should be afraid of but them”. And there you see an army of women in sari uniform walking towards you and they beat you up for your shameless behaviour! Some kind of guardians of decency...

India,public demonstration of affection,army of women in sari