Thursday, November 24, 2011

7 Days In India - Travelling

November 22, 2pm - Calgary Airport

I slept like a baby, and awoke thinking rather calmly: I'm going to India today.

I'll admit that I was teary-eyed, saying "goodbye" to all my little ones, and my sweet 5 year old was wailing and clinging to me, determined to keep me from going out the front door.  For a few minutes, my heart was shut inside the entryway of our home, with my children, as we drove away towards Calgary.  Would my little ones survive without me?  Would my little baby (only 23 months) grow up and learn all sorts of things while I was away?

Well, those worries all blew away as we traversed the highway from Lethbridge to Calgary.  In fact, we were quite literally blown with the incredible blast of wind that was gusting in from the mountains, towards us.  As we left our home, where was a wind warning for our area and tumble weeds - and some vehicles, even, were blowing forcefully across the highway and into the ditch!  (We saw one overturned trailer along Highway 2.)

We enjoyed a last "Canadian meal" - actually, we had sushi and terryaki beef - before we dropped our van off and hopped onto a shuttle to go to the airport.  I have to say that it was in that moment, as we left the van and everything familiar behind, that it suddenly began to feel real!  With a panicked look, I counted and re-counted our baggage - just 5 bags?  How could there be so few?  Then Dan and I smiled at one another, realising that we were without kids!  Yippeee!!! Free---eee---dommmmm!  It certainly simplified things when it came to traveling.

The reality of India came even closer to us when we were dropped off at the airport doors, right behind an Indian family all dressed for their pilgrimage home.  It reminded me of our last missions experience, on our way to Thailand.  When we lined up for our trans-Pacific flight in L.A., we were the ONLY white people... and we had 3 little blond-haired, blue-eyed children that only served to further single us out as the only non-Asians traveling on the flight.  It was so exciting, knowing that we were about to experience something so different and life changing!

Well, it's about time to board and Dan just switched his clock to India standard time: 3:12am.  Sheesh... it's already tomorrow and our journey has just begun.

On the plane, just after take-off:

I just heard an interesting announcement from the flight attendant - The first-class compartment will be served meals from the menu, created by top chefs.  The economy class will be served "carefully selected meals and beverages".  Hmmm... should I be jealous?  Just what does a "carefully selected meal" taste like?  What does it mean?  Apparently, it means delicious, as this picture below will show you.  And if fact, it was quite tasty - for airline food. 
"Delicious Meal" as seen on the orange label...
Amsterdam Airport - 9:50am

Although we are not yet in India, the Indian culture was beginning to press upon me - literally!  we were lined up in a switchback roped-off area, passing through airport security in order to board our plane to Delhi.  At this point, there were very few white people in our midst and I got a real taste of the manner in which Indians interact and relate in a crowd.  I noticed right away that the idea of "personal space" was not understood by Indians the way it is understood, and upheld, by Canadians.  Continually, I could feel the people in line behind me pressing closer, jostling my backpack and even making me wonder if I should keep an eye on my valuables!  Then, when the boarding call came, the entire crowd was pushing forward, all eager to acquire prime baggage space for their carry-on items, and settle themselves into their seats comfortably.  This was a lot different than I was used to, being a conservative Canadian, but I figured I'd better get used to it considering I'd soon be staying in a city inhabited by 20,000,000 people!

Next stop... India!

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