My Return To India – Part 2: Welcome To India
As I type this, I am on the ground in India. It was a very long flight. I flew via Air Canada on a direct flight to New Delhi on their 787-9 Dreamliner. I’ve flown on 787 series aircraft twice before and it’s a great way to fly. Though there is one thing that Air Canada could do to make the experience better is having in flight WiFi. Many of their competitors have in flight WiFi, and Air Canada really need to step up their game in this area. Having said that, the in flight entertainment allowed me to burn some time on this long flight as I managed to watch several episodes of “The Flash” and “X Company” along with seeing the movie “Eye In The Sky” which is a very good movie that I would recommend that you see.
It was supposed to be a 14 hour flight. But we left Toronto 10 minutes late which wasn’t a big deal. But while we landed 10 minutes late in New Delhi, we were left on the tarmac for 30 minutes while they found us a gate and another 45 minutes before we could exit the plane. That was a bit of a #fail. There was an in-flight medical issue where a passenger got ill. But to Air Canada’s credit, their in flight crew handled the situation well and the plane did not have to divert and the passenger was well taken care of.
Now it took nearly an hour to get my bags when we did land. But the good news is that I breezed through customs. And I found the driver (who like last year was holding up a sign with my name on it) who was tasked with getting me to my hotel, which was once again the Fortune Select Excalibur. I really enjoyed staying here the last time I was here and the driver that picked me up recognized me from last year. That was kind of cool. Before taking me to the hotel, I made a stop at the Vodafone kiosk in Indiria Gandhi Airport to pick up a local SIM card. Now I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If you travel internationally, you need to have an unlocked phone so that you can buy a local SIM card as roaming with Rogers, Bell, and Telus or any other Canadian carrier will cost you way too much money. In my case, getting a Vodafone SIM for 650 INR which is just over $12 Canadian got me this:
- 4G LTE speed
- 1.4 GB of Internet usage
- Unlimited talk and text
Seeing as I am here for 7 days, this is way better of a deal than you can get with any Canadian carrier. Now buying a local SIM card isn’t instant in India. You need to present your passport and provide an address (such as your hotel). Then you have to wait a few hours while the carrier verifies your information. If you’re deemed worthy, your SIM will light up. Then you need to call into the carrier to verify your info to actually use it. In my case, I had to enter the last 4 digits of my passport and hit a couple extra buttons to activate mobile Internet. But once that was all done, I had a local SIM card that I could use for no more than three months. Now you’re likely wondering why it is so difficult to buy a SIM card and get service. The answer is simple. Government regulation due to fears of terrorism. Because of this, I strongly recommend that you get your SIM card at the airport.
The drive to the hotel was uneventful and wasn’t the “Grand Theft Auto” like experience that I had last year. But the security that I experenced last year at the hotel was still there. So were the blackouts (three so far today), and the slowish and flaky Internet. I got to the hotel at midnight local time, and was in bed by 1AM. This morning I had breakfast at 8:30 AM and I’ve spent the rest of the day working. We’ll see how things go for the rest of the day, but I am preparing for the week ahead which will be busy and very different than what I am used to. Hopefully, I will also be able to fit in some sightseeing as well. I hope the weather co-operates with that as rain is in the forecast.