My Trip To India And Australia: Part 6 – Welcome To India

Well, I’m finally in India. The flight from Dubai left late due to the fact that the passengers couldn’t seem to obey the Emirates Airline ground staff’s instructions to board based on the zone letter printed on their ticket. That resulted in a 20 minute delay on top of the fact that the plane got into Dubai late. Another note, I flew a Boeing 777 which compared to the Airbus A380 seemed primitive in every way. It was noisy, with ancient (compared to the A380) infotainment and it wasn’t as comfortable with a lot of turbulence. The A380 seemed to cover that up somewhat as I didn’t notice any turbulence at all.

But at least I am here.

I got off the plane and went down to customs. I had to hand over three forms:

  • A health form basically saying I had not been anywhere where Ebola is active. You handed that in at a special checkpoint which had thermal imaging cameras to find people who were running a temperature.
  • A customs declaration basically saying that I was not breaking the law by bringing in anything that I should not be.
  • An immigration form.

The first two were handed out on the plane. The third was not. If you weren’t smart enough to get the latter, you got punted out line for the customs and immigration officer. That was me. After being punted out of line I found a copy and quickly filled it out and lined up again. This time I got through.

After picking up my checked suitcase (Note to self: Make the suitcase stand out as there are only a billion black Samsonite suitcases out there), I went out to arrivals where a gentleman was holding up a sign with my name on it. I felt like a VIP as he took my bags and led me to his car and drove me to the hotel.

Now this is the part of my story that might get me into trouble. This guy drove like he had played Grand Theft Auto a few too many times. He was weaving in and out of traffic, honking everyone in his path, driving over the speed limit, and was completely unable to stay within the lane markers. I also noted that taxi drivers were doing exactly the same thing. So I am guessing that this is a common behavior.

Now I am not staying in New Delhi. I am in a city called Gurgaon which is near New Delhi. It’s apparently the leading financial and industrial city in India and that is where my client is at. The hotel that they’ve booked me in is the Fortune Select Excalibur which from all appearances is a pretty upscale place. One thing that caught my eye is that when we drove up, it was heavily fortified. There were concrete blocks on the road arranged to slow cars down and a gate where the driver stopped while a security guard used a mirror on a pole to check underneath the car. Presumably for explosives. If that wasn’t enough, my laptop bag and suitcase were x-rayed before being let into the hotel.

Clearly these guys take security seriously. Very seriously.

After checking in, I got some sleep. After all, I had flown for 15 hours via two flights and been awake for much longer than that. In the interest of avoiding jet lag, I slept from 5AM when I arrived to 8:30AM when I went to get some breakfast. After breakfast, I set up my computer on their WiFi network. That took some doing as they gave me the wrong password and had to send a guy up to my room to get it sorted. It’s stable, though a bit slow when doing a remote session. But I should not complain as I’ve had much worse in hotels.

Here’s my view from my room. As you can see, they have a pool. Though I will not be using it because it is raining today:

IMG_0877

Here’s the skyline from my room:

IMG_0879Another thing I noted was that there are bottles of water for me to drink everywhere in my room. As in three of them. Plus there was a pair of the same brand of water (made by Coca Cola) in the car that took me to the hotel. This reinforced two warnings I got from friends who are Indian:

  • Don’t drink the tap water ever.
  • Don’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables ever. Only eat cooked food.

Apparently, if I don’t follow those guidelines, I’ll get what is known as Delhi Belly which would not be fun. I’ve consumed one of the bottles of water. If I get something, I’ll let you know as tactfully as possible.

One last thing that I noted, the power has gone out twice since I’ve arrived. It’s come back within a couple of minutes, but that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

The plan for today is to work out (I brought my cross trainers and my workout gear) answer some e-mails, relax and get ready for the first day with my client tomorrow. I’ll be here until Thursday and I will be leaving early Friday morning for Australia. Tomorrow I am also going to get a local SIM card for my iPhone 5S, so I will let you know how that goes. I do have transport arranged from my hotel to the client and back as well, so I’ll document that experience too.

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