October 12, 2008 – First Day in India and already had an Adventure
I left Israel with a serious eye-infection and was directed by my family doctor to see an eye doctor immediately. So that was my first priority. But first, a quick summary of the flight and the place I am staying.
I arrived in Delhi yesterday morning, after a lovely flight. I left Israel on a 6 PM flight to Amman (there was a slight problem at check-in. I had reserved the first leg of the journey to Amman using Frequent flyers points, and the second leg of the journey to Delhi with a paid ticket. It seems that my reservation from amman to Delhi did not appear in the computer. After a few anxious moments, it was worked out with no further problem. The flight I was on from Tel Aviv to amman was an additional flight to accommodate the large number of people flying to Delhi that day, so that we arrived in Amman, after a short 25 minute flight, just 20 minutes before the flight to Delhi was ready to take off. Wonderful! No waiting time…just went from one plane to the other, found my seat, and before I could even get settled, we were ready for take off.
Just a word about the plane. It was smaller than I usually fly on with Royal Jordanian. Just six seats across, three on each side of the aisle. But it was very new and extremely comfortable and included individual private TV screens for each person, so that I had my personal choice of Movies, TV and games with a remote control unit. There were so many movies to choose from that it was a difficult decision. I began with a couple of movies which I didn’t like and wound up watching Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull!! It was sooooooooo silly but kept me occupied and entertained without to much effort on my part. Sitting next to me was a mother with 6 month old breast feeding infant, who was quiet and relaxed for the majority of the flight, although I was concerned when I first boarded as she had trouble settling him in the beginning. She was a woman in her mid-to late-40’s and this was her 5th child, her oldest being 9 years old! She was flying to Rishikesh for a two week vacation. Her partner, a yoga instructor, was already there visiting his Guru and she was joining him for the last two weeks of his one month visit. This was her first visit to India. Sitting next to her, on the aisle, was a woman in her 60’s who was visiting her son, also her first trip to India. Her son is on a diplomatic mission in Delhi and has been in India for 3 years with one more to go. She will be visiting for 3 weeks before heading home.
The flight was easy, quiet, comfortable, and I managed to sleep for about one hour before arriving at 4:15 in the morning in Delhi. That was about 1:30 AM Israeli time….the middle of the night for me. There was no waiting time to get through customs and I was out, after cashing some money at the bank, in less than 20 minutes. The taxi that was supposed to be waiting for me was late and my Delhi host simply told me to get a taxi at the airport, which I did with no problem. In just about ½ hour we arrived at the Delhi suburb of Noida. Shweta was waiting for me when I arrived at the ungodly hour of 5 or so in the morning, showed me to her room, we spoke for a few minutes, and then I fell into a deep sleep. I slept on and off until 2 in the afternoon!
I woke up, Shweta already at work at her TV news station, and that day she was presenting the news so I turned on the TV and watched her deliver the news for awhile. Then I showered, dressed and began to meet the people in the house. Her parents are away for a few days. I met the cleaning lady, who was given directions to prepare a light lunch for me, not spicey, and then I met her grandfather, who is staying here for a few days while his son and daughter-in-law are away for a few das. He usually lives with them. He is an amazing person and we spent some lovely time talking about everything possible…from global warming, to world politics, to cultural changes in traditional societies due to technology etc., young people getting married at more advanced age, his desire for great-grandchildren before he dies (he is 83), world finances, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, growing old in different cultures and the changing in cultural norms regarding aging parents, even in India, and just in general about the joy of grandchildren etc. Eventually I went back to sleep(!) and woke up around 6, had some chai, spoke with dadaji again, and then Shweta’s brother Rahul came home. He is younger, 23 (she is 28) and is a professional golfer (as is her boyfriend Arjun – who she has been together with for 12 years), and quite lovely and friendly as well. And then I met the other people in the house. The man who helpls her mother with her clothing business, his two sons, quite precocious both of them and then the cooking lady, who seems is his wife (they met here years ago while working for the family). She was animated and lovely and could see where the two boys got their lively spirits from. She was also directed to prepare my food without chilies and so far my meals here have been delicious. This household is very different from the formal atmosphere in the house I lived in during my stay several years ago in Chennai. Everything is very casual here, people eat when they feel like it, the “servants” are free to come and go, speak with each other and with the household members, and me of courses, and it is just very comfortable to be here. I don’t think I will have a problem for the time I will be here, feeling at home. The house is lovely with a pleasant kitchen, dining area, living room and 4 bedrooms, two full baths, on the first floor of a three story building complex. I hope to have some pictures over the next few days……
I am sharing a room (and bed) with Shweta, but it seems to be OK. I will be living out of a suitcase, which I don’t like, but will manage. The room has AC if I need it as well as a TV and private bathroom, so it is very convenient, and quite comfortable. Yesterday Shweta took me out for tea at 8:30 in the evening, BEFORE we had dinner, and I met Arjun again which was nice. Shweta is a young girl who I met during my last trip to India. She had been following my India blog, by chance, and traced me to the Swiss cottage in Rishikesh when she came there for a vacation, and that is when she extended the invitation for me to stay with her when I come back to Delhi. While we were out, she showed me how to get to the closest market by foot from her house, so I can arrange a cellphone for myself and also find a cyber café. She has a local wireless modem on her computer, but we don’t know how to configure it to use on mine, but I can still send my posts off from her computer if I want to. So tomorrow I will probably go walking to the local market, see the area, and right past it is a large Mall.
AND NOW FOR TODAY’S ADVENTURE!
I asked Shweta if there was an eye doctor nearby that she knew, and she said, just across the street is a big Eye Hospital, School and Clinic! So that is where I went today. I was given a full examination, and my medications changed, and I was instructed to return tomorrow morning to see if the medications were making an improvement in the situation. This whole area is quite lovely. Beautiful private homes, quiet streets, private cars parked in front of each home, very clean and pleasant to walk around. It is still very warm in Delhi, but not oppressive I walked around the corner to a local hospital where there is a pharmacy and purchased my meds with no problem and then walked back home where I am now sitting comfortably (or not) on the bed writing this. Hope to get it off today to let you all know that things have begun well and I am feeling find and content.
I will do my best to write each day if there is something interesting to tell. If not, I won’t waste everyone’s time with unnecessary posts.