100 Days in India Project
1/ 100 A Second Arrival in India
I had traveled to India once before in 2018, so this trip for us was a second arrival in India and we were hoping to build upon what we had learned the first time. As we were revisiting we could hopefully avoid some of the inevitable pitfalls of a first visit to a very different country, making the trip more enjoyable. As the plane descended into the orange smog above New Delhi I felt confident. I’d been through all of this before. It would be chaotic, but I was ready. Then, as soon as we had disembarked the aircraft, brushed all the crumbs from our clothes and checked that we had our passports for the 95th time that day, reality hit. Even though it was only 12 months since we had last left the warm and safe cocoon of home I felt completely overwhelmed all over again.
India is so completely different to our life here in Scotland. But I had a plan.
Our mission on the first day was to get a mobile phone SIM card locally. If we had the internet then we also had Uber which, in turn, gave us about as much guarantee as we could ever hope for of a reliable taxi service, an ability to mark the destination on a map without having to speak Hindi and, joy of joys, a clear price for the trip. In the end it was remarkably easy. We visited a night market and found the shop close by our apartment, paid the owner a pretty affordable amount of Rupees and he did everything for us. Brilliant. Learning our lessons from our first visit, we joined every single other person in mobile phone obsessed India and were now connected to the internet and all the helpful things that brings with it.
What wasn’t so brilliant was our first night in our tourist hotel when a poor dog, happily sleeping underneath a car as they like to do, didn’t awake in time and got squashed under a car wheel several floors beneath our hotel window. Unable to move it stayed there most of the night, howling in pain. I couldn’t bear it and went downstairs to find a few people looking at this poor creature without the money, or maybe even the desire, to do anything about it. I asked the hotel to call a vet, but they wouldn’t until the manager arrived, and he wouldn’t be there to the morning. I offered to pay for the vet myself, plus the encouragement of a hefty tip, so they did phone, but the vet wouldn’t be there until the morning either. By early morning the doorman told me the dog had died, but nobody then knew where it had gone. Lesson number one – in India a dog’s life is cheap.