Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last Day in US, First in Delhi

The hours leading up to my flight out were surreal. Kasia and the kids all took the day off, so we spent the day together, and we left early (thank goodness - traffic was terrible!) to go to the airport. We had dinner together there, and said our goodbyes. I mentioned in my last post that once the pre-trip stress dissipated, the emotions would come....well they did. The girls waited as I went through the security line, and when I got to the end, I looked over and saw 7-year-old Gabbie crying. That did it...of course I immediately asked myself if I was making a terrible mistake in leaving. But I tried to keep my mind on what I would be doing in India, and that it would be helping me to determine what I want to focus upon for the rest of my life, as well as helping others in need. The beginning of the flight was very tough, but luckily I sat next to a young man from Delhi who was just heading home to see his family for the first time in several months (he works in Albany!), and our chat took my mind off things a bit.

The flight itself was uneventful - it's direct from Newark to Delhi, about 14 hours. We took off late but arrived on time. I didn't sleep much, but that was a good thing as we arrived at night, having lost about half a day, and I wanted to be able to sleep.

                                             Where 14 hours in a Boeing-777 gets you

At the airport in Delhi, I found that I had two rides waiting for me! Steven from CARE was there to meet me, but due to a mix up in arrangements, a driver from my hotel was also there. After a couple of quick phone calls, we sorted everything out, and I went with the driver to the hotel. The JHT was just right - comfortable bed, plenty of space. I ordered a quick dinner (Chicken Tikka Butter Masala - very spicy, very good - and some garlic naan), and then figured out the Wifi and called Mom and Kasia on Skype. We had to figure out a few kinks, and lost connection quite a few times, but we managed. I fell asleep quickly.

The next morning, Steven came by about 9:30 (it was already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) to pick me up and take my two big suitcases to the apartment in which I'll stay. The current tenant, Marge, is a retired CARE executive, who still works on international assignments. She gave me a tour of the apartment - very spacious, with two bedrooms, kitchen, bath, outdoor terrace/patio, and a living room/dining room that is also serving as her office. She moves out on the day before I return from Dhaka, so I will be able to move right in when I get back.

Marge gave me some great tips about the neighborhood, and invited me to join her for lunch in the local market square. We met up a few hours later at a Chinese restaurant called Yo! China - and I was amazed to see several American food chains in the Market (Dunkin Donuts, Gloria Jean's, Pizza Hut). Not that I plan to eat a much American food while I'm there, but it's nice to know I can get a a little taste of home if I want one. 

After lunch, as we walked around the square (and Marge pointed out all the stores that she frequents, where I could buy groceries, housewares, gifts), we discovered that they had just opened up a Starbucks there as well! We went in for a quick cold drink, as the temperature had climbed to about 115 by then.

                                     LOTS of staff in the new Starbucks at M-Block Market

I have to say, the sights, smells, and sounds were nearly overwhelming to my jetlagged brain! Everywhere were wonderful cooking smells, spices, and flowers permeating the air. The streets were very crowded with people walking, cars, and autorickshaws, and the occasional hand-drawn cart. Some stray dogs were trying to beat the heat laying in the shade on the marble walkways. I saw a few cows in the road as I was driving around with Steven earlier, but none were in the square. People just move around them, and they seem perfectly content. The neighborhood here is largely middle-class, so there were lots of well-dressed people our shopping at the brand-name stores and eating in the various restaurants and cafes. 

After parting ways with Marge, I went back to the hotel for some rest. Realizing that I had to be up extremely early (2AM) the next morning for my flight to Dhaka, I went out for an early dinner in the square (biryani at an North Indian restaurant), then went back to my room, made quick calls to family, and passed out. A good, full day and hopefully a sign of good things to come.


  1. Great post, Matt. I hope you will keep updating this blog so we can enjoy this adventure with you.

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