I landed in India and immediately the warm 60 degree humid air hit me and it felt very familiar. I feel comfortable in third world nations because I used to live in Nigeria. It did not smell bad, but I also arrived at 9pm so there were not that many people. I was worried about arriving at night but I preferred it. It was a chill environment and hardy any lines. Not many people at the airport to navigate and/or ward off. The airport is beautiful. Very modern with glass and fine art everywhere. As soon as you pass immigration before getting to baggage claim there are duty free shops selling alcohol, cars, perfumes and handbags. Reminded me of the duty free shops in the Amsterdam airport.
After retrieving my luggage, I walked about 20 feet and knew I should have bought a bag with wheels. I had the duffel bag strap thrown over my shoulder so that crossed my chest and still had to lift it with both hands at the smaller middle straps to mitigate the weight. By now I am merely shuffling quickly rather than walking. I kept thinking, how am I going to travel like this: 1) I am going to burn out and have to put this down; I am not fond of dropping my belongings in the middle of a busy dusty road, 2) I look not only like a tourist, but a silly tourist. Then I saw some carts in the distance, “please let them by free.” Yes! Saved by the free carts! Crisis averted.
As I made my way outside, a man recognized me instantly and signaled to me. Only problem is, I did not recognize him. Remember all the pre-India reading… I was not leaving with a stranger (mind you throughout my trek through the airport I purposely had my resting ‘don’t mess with me’ face), so he called the Program Director and all is well. The car ride to the guesthouse where the students stay was long but interesting. The roads here are a mixture of great and unpaved. At one point, we drove through water that covered the tires, but none entered the car, which I was waiting for, so all is good. People mind their lanes. There was a lot of honking but not nearly as much as in Nigeria. I was expecting New Delhi to be like Lagos, Nigeria and perhaps it is during the day. But so far nothing I am not used to seeing in Nigeria so that was very comforting.
I spoke to the Program Director; she was very nice. She noticed I have an MPH and offered for me to come back to New Delhi my final week for a week-long Public Health rotation. I jumped at the chance, gives me another perspective on the Indian health system and another city to explore. The one thing on my wish list while in India was the Taj Mahal so I asked about that and she told me about the Indian tourist golden triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) and how to best fit it into my schedule. There is another lady joining the trip next week so hopefully we can go together. Finally, she said there were no mosquitoes in the house and told me about the bucket baths. Again not new to me, I just wish I had brought some Dettol but I will surely find some in Dehradun. That is my next stop. It is 6 hours away and I will start at 5am tomorrow on the train.
P.S. This is a day late because I didn’t have internet yesterday.