There are some trips that are really hard to come by at my job. They are the ones worth the most time therefore the most money. The trips that you need at least 25 -30 years with the company to even think of being able to fly on a regular basis. My 18 years is nothing compared to that. Everywhere in China and Japan, India, Tel Avi, Hawaii are the trips that are in this group of untouchables.
I was lucky enough this month to get an India trip. I was off to Delhi – 14 1/2 hours there 15 1/2 hours back. Wow. That’s a long time on an airplane.
I showed up on the plane like it was my first day ever flying, all shiny and excited. The service is different and like anywhere there are certain things you need to know about the market to make the service go smoothly. For example when flying to Europe it is all about water, juice, and coke all without ice, France it is black coffee with 2 sugars, UK they like their tomato juice – no ice- and apparently India everyone drinks coffee and tea with milk. You serve it to them with milk and only ask if they want sugar or not and they drink LOTS of water.
Anyway, I showed up all sparkly and LOVED it. I had heard that you either like it or you really don’t. I got it. I didn’t mind that except when you are on your break (there are two breaks and seeing how I was the most junior on the trip by at least 8 years I was on the first break, you get to lie down in the crew bunks and have a rest which is much needed) you don’t stop. There is always someone in the galley asking for coffee, tea, water, food, something. I don’t mind that. In fact I kind of like it – strange I know. It makes the flight go by quickly, but if you don’t like to work this is not the trip for you.
You leave Newark at around 9:00 at night and get to Delhi at around 9:00 at night but it’s the next night of the next day. There is a 10 1/2 hour time change so you actually fly all day. You loose time. It’s the weirdest thing getting there and knowing you really have lost a day of your life.
The first thing I noticed when they opened the door of the plane was the smell. It smells like camp fire, not entirely unpleasant, just all smokey. I heard a few explanations of what the fires were burning but I don’t like to think about what was actually being burned just that it was interesting that a whole city can smell like a campfire.
You get to your hotel (which has security guards and women at the front desk dressed in beautiful saris) and sleep, finally. You awake the next morning with that been at a slumber party all night /not slept/looking to see whose bra was frozen feeling. Go to an amazing buffet breakfast (that the crew assured me was safe to eat and to power up so not to get what is called “Delhi Belly” by eating anywhere else) and head out shopping.
The crew took me under their wing. They couldn’t have been better to me. Sheltering me, showing me the ropes like I was a baby chick and they were the Momma ducks. I waddled after them all over New Delhi. They were awesome and I was to totally over whelmed.
The pharamcy, the Khan market, the Russian (leather market which I didn’t really like, it felt seedy and a little bit creepy), and the Janpath (my favorite and the one closest to the hotel) – http://goindia.about.com/od/shopping/tp/delhimarkets.htm . I bought a few things including India Barbies (how could I not) some fun wedding bracelets for the girls, an obnoxious elephant tie for Ken and a few pashminas. Like I said there is so much and I wanted it all. It was hard to keep my head and I ended up buying just a few things and later wishing I had gotten more.
After a day of shopping and seeing we headed back to the hotel for a nap (or at least I tried to nap) and to get ready to fly home. We were picked up from the hotel at night and proceed to fly all night to land in Newark again at 4:00 a.m. We landed before the immigration officers had even made it to work so we had to wait 15 min to open the door. It was weird we had been in the air for almost 15 hours but it was only the morning. I drove home with a cup of Dunkin Donuts as my co-pilot and watched the sunrise for the first time in days.
The people were so friendly. I don’t know why, but I expected there to be a language barrier but most people spoke english enough that I never felt uncomfortable. I saw monkeys sunning themselves in a park beside grown men, a Presidents Palace, Tuk Tuks that seemed to weave in and out of traffic close enough to touch but never getting knocked over, and a horse being ridden around a huge round-about going to a wedding.
It was all so different and interesting and I can’t wait to go back and explore more!