Incredible India…

The road out of Bagdogra

After almost 40 hours of travel, I have reached the Darjeeling area, specifically Kalimpong. It has been a long, strange trip. The road up to this Himalayan town was awesome, and I mean that as in “left me in awe”, not “wow, that was great”. But I am getting ahead of myself; that’s another post.

On leaving Bali at 01:20 A.M., we landed in Seoul about oh, eight hours later. I had two seats to myself and tried to sleep but it was difficult despite the extra room. I was pretty tired when I rolled up to immigration, and even more tired by the time I got to the Best Western Airport Suites. I can’t tell you how glad I was they had a room for me at 9:30 AM. Free internet and everything. I got some sleep, answered some mail, and took my first “everlasting” hot shower in two weeks. By that, I mean that the hot water didn’t stop, get turned off, or cut out because another guest used a sink somewhere. It was like heaven. But my ejection from heaven was imminent. On the plane I was seated across from a family of four who didn’t sleep on the plane all night, despite our leaving at 8 PM with cabin lights off. Neither parent seemed to care that their kids were climbing all over the seats, constantly buzzing the flight attendants to ask if we were “there yet”, making all kinds of racket and keeping our entire sector of the plane awake. Ug. After helping raise my stepsons for a little while, I have no tolerance for parents who don’t pay attention. On the plus side, I met a couple of very nice, welcoming Indian women and I felt better about visiting India. Then I got here: a place the official tourism department bills “Incredible India!”. After spending from 01:30 – 05:30 in a chair in an airport domestic terminal, I went through a push and struggle to get my flight checked, eventually so frustrated that I ruthlessly cut off all following travelers trying to get my agent’s attention while she was helping me. I had to become downright Italian about it. After that, I went quietly through the security checkpoint, which is segregated by sex. They hand-inspect everyone with the metal detecting wand anyway but they make us wait to go through the regular metal detector before the wand inspection. Most of the travelers were men, so the ladies’ line was short and I made my plane. I wonder how many husbands miss the plane while their wives make it on time. Next time, I am leaving 2-3 hours minimum to deal with the Indian airport.

The airline didn’t give me any trouble about my baggage, but in that kind of press, how could they, really? Two hours later, we were in Dehli. I had to make my way out of the arrival terminal, across a parking lot that seemed to go to nowhere (I helped a couple more fellow travelers find the terminal), up an elevator and then through security again. They practically took my camera backpack apart, convinced I was somehow harboring liquids. I had to look them in the eye and swear up and down there were no liquids, even though they had taken out the contents of the entire bag.

In India, airport security puts stamped tags on every piece of luggage you have. If you have a tag but no stamp later, you are detained and rechecked, if you have no tag or take something out of your bag and carry it separately (therefore it is without a tag) you are detained and rechecked as well. They check your boarding pass at least six times between security and actually getting to your seat, and in a comic turn of events, they checked it on the way OFF the plane in Bagdogra! I met some nice Korean guys in the Dehli airport line and on the way off we were all inspected for boarding passes. We looked at each other like WTH? This makes no sense! It was hard not to laugh out loud in the hearing of the guards. Then we said “Incredible India” and left it at that.

This entry was posted in Far Far Away, India, Round the World Journey. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Incredible India…

  1. meggi raeder says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Your description of India, airports, security, etc. reminds me so much of my recent trip – yes, the chekcs are incredible adn my computer/camera backpack was examined, completely emptied and then rescanned – with no consideration given that my connections were very tight “You won’t miss your flight – don’t worry” at every stage. And miraculouly, I did not miss any connections since they all were late. Are you planning to go into Sikkim? I am quite interested in this part of your journey since I want to go back to the Himalaya region, Sikkim or Ladakh.
    Travel safe, adn have fun!!
    Meggi

  2. Paul the bitsmith says:

    I hope that you really enjoyed the Taj, today. Arizona heat sounds, well, brutal.

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