Thursday, 29 September 2011

28, 29 September 11: Beijing to Delhi

During the duration of my overlay at Beijing International, I ate chopped cucumber in a spicy red sauce along with seaweed udon soup. I later enjoyed a snack of marinated peanuts and celery. I enjoyed trying the various new (to me) beverages in the vending machines. The prices were high in the airport. I blew through $30 just feeding and hydrating myself. I wandered a lot. The corridors were lined with Balenciaga, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Chanel. A Starbucks was under construction. Efficient bathroom attendees entered the stall after each use to sanitize and perfume. I used my first squat toilet. It was spotless. I'll post pictures soon. I didn't talk much all day. I offered to take pictures of a family and after that they gave me grapes, but our interaction was limited as we could only share food, not a common language.

My flight from Beijing to Delhi was again very restful. Lots of sleep punctuated with an occasional groggy rise to check the time. I slept through meals and drinks on this flight. The passengers of this flight felt more foreign compared to those on my flight into Beijing. While there were plenty of westernized Indians, many still wear traditional clothing, especially the older generations. The style is so distinctly Indian. Old Sikh couples, he in his turban, she in her sari, look so distinguished. I don't really know how to discuss this without exoticizing and “othering” Eastern culture, so I'll leave it at that for now.

I expected more pandemonium at the Delhi airport. It was quiet, clean, and orderly, if not as modern and state of the art as Beijing's. I received my first “namaste” in the bathroom, which had a Western toilet. I quickly passed through customs and had no issues changing my dollars and yuan to rupees. As an FYI, 287 USD got me over 12,000 INR. My room tonight costs 450 INR, or about $9, for comparison.

Everything I'd read said the exit from Indira Gahndi airport is one of the most intense first experiences of India; that there's filth and noise and stink and humans everywhere. I braced myself and headed out and... nothing. There were orderly rows of Indians behind the partitions, there to pick up guests or greet family members. There was traffic and it was humid, but it was far, far tamer than I expected. I picked up two bottles of water, paying what're likely to be exorbitant airport prices, for about $0.80.

After that I started looking for my prearranged cab....

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