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India, week 3: Delhi, a wedding, home - Greg [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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India, week 3: Delhi, a wedding, home [Apr. 5th, 2015|04:19 pm]
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Evening Fri Mar 27 -

Woof, long day today. Got up crazy early and made it to the airport early - too early, in fact, to check in! (apparently GoJet only does checkins two hours before the flight) Anyway, once I did check in and go through security I wandered around a bit looking for some breakfast, and eventually found a muffin. I've noticed that my stomach does not like having unusual things for breakfast - cereal is best, but pastries will do!

On the way, I saw a pretty nice bookstore in the airport - they even sell some real board games (like "Scotland Yard")! I might have to buy some books on my way out, as I've gone through most of what I brought already.

I met Subbaiah and Avinash at the airport, and the flight was fine, I even managed to nap a little bit. We took a car to our hotel and freshened up a bit before heading out to lunch and sightseeing.

After a terrifying ride in a three-wheeler/rickshaw (seriously, the driver seemed to have a death wish...although he was also quite aggressive on the horn!) we went to see the Red Fort, which is a fort the Mughals built for their emperor. It's huge and impressive, but also very pretty in parts. Unfortunately it was a bit hot outside and the sun was pretty draining, so it was nice to get back to the hotel and rest before the engagement in the evening.

Weird story: Subbaiah was taking a picture of me near the front of the Red Fort, and afterwards this Indian guy wanted to take a picture with me shaking his hand. His wife afterwards said something (in Hindi) about me being Obama and him being Modi. I was like, um, sure!

The engagement ceremony was...interesting. There were a lot of ceremonial things happening up on the stage, but there were also many waiters with appetizers roaming around, and a lot of people weren't paying attention to what was going on. I did the usual thing of forgetting that there was actually a main course after the appetizers, so I overate a bit.

Apparently North Indian weddings are a little crazy - tomorrow it starts at 8 PM, and there's dinner sometime, but the "real" ceremony doesn't start until midnight and will last until 2 or 3 AM! (is the general consensus) Also, a lot of people just leave after dinner, I guess? Anyway, I'd like to see some of the real ceremony, but given we have a 9 AM flight the next day and it took us an hour to get from the airport to our hotel, it's going to be another rough day...

Afternoon Sat Mar 28 -

Got up early today and walked to the Metro station to go see the Parliament building. Since it's a Saturday morning (and we were up on the early side) I had thought that maybe it wouldn't be too crowded. Boy, was I wrong! At one stop a wave of people pushed on and I was a tiny bit fearful something bad was going to happen. Thankfully, it did not.

It was a bit jarring to get off the crowded Metro and emerge to a quiet space with lots of parks. The area around the parliament building and prime minister's building was clean and very well maintained. We walked around a bit and I got some (hopefully!) good pictures.

After that we walked to the India Gate, which looked not too far away but ended up being...well, pretty far away. After we got there, I'm thinking it was an illusion based on size, because the Gate is very tall! It was built as a memorial to Indian soldiers who died in World War I, although I heard that the British conscripted Indians to fight in World War I without consulting the Indian congress, so this was their way of smoothing things over afterwards.

We then stopped by the Museum of Modern Art which was nice but I think all of us were a little tired from all the walking already. So we went and got lunch, then stopped at a sweets store and got a few things. Then we went back to the hotel to rest and stay out of the afternoon sun, which means I got to nap! And it was glorious.

Evening Sun Mar 29 -

Man, what a weekend. We got to the wedding around 9:30 or so and I took in the sights - it was quite a party! Rohit (the groom) showed up in a horse-drawn carriage which was preceded by a (small) marching band. It was all pretty impressive!

Unfortunately, I started feeling sick right around then, so I missed Kanika's entrance, and ended up eating very little of the food. And there was a lot of food - by my count, at least 30 food stations both outside and inside.

So we waited around and the ceremony itself (which took place outside) started around 1 AM or so. I noticed that the marching band people had all brought sleeping bags/blanket and were just sleeping outside...felt a little bad for them! The ceremony took around 2 hours, although by this time a lot of people had left already. Afterwards we had some trouble getting an Uber, so a very helpful guy at the hotel said he would give us a ride back after everything was done, which was a little after 4 AM. By this point I was feeling pretty crappy and just wanted to get home to take my antibiotics, which I did.

Unfortunately, we had a 9:30 AM flight Sunday morning, and the airport was an hour away, so I hurried up and packed (as much as I could while feeling weak from being sick) and got around 1.5 hours of sleep. But at least I slept pretty well, and packed up in the morning and left. I was hoping I would feel better by then, but...well, not really. It's a miracle I didn't leave anything behind in the hotel room because I was pretty out of it.

The ride to the airport was fine, although again I wasn't feeling great. We got a little something for breakfast and waited for our flight. Once we were on the plane I fell asleep almost immediately and slept almost the whole way. It turns out I can sleep on planes - the trick is being sufficiently tired :-)

We parted ways and I made it back to the hotel here. By then it was 1:30 PM and my stomach hurt from hunger, so I tried to order room service but the line kept being busy. After about 10 minutes I gave up and went downstairs, but one of the restaurants at the hotel was closed and the other was busy and serving fancy Indian stuff, when really I just wanted something easy on my stomach. So I walked to the breakfast place and had pancakes and they were delicious and everything was great!

Came back to catch the end of the Cricket World Cup final match (Australia won, it was not particularly close) then took a sorely needed two-hour nap. Again, I usually can't nap, but hooray! Woke up feeling pretty groggy but overall it definitely helped, and I'm hoping this will mean I'll feel good tomorrow at work.

Spent the rest of the evening posting pictures from the weekend (and writing this entry :-) ) while relaxing on the couch. It was very nice. I definitely enjoying going to Delhi and sightseeing, but I'm going to be taking it very easy this week. I'd like to catch up on sleep before I begin my journey back to Austin...

Afternoon Sun Apr 5 -

The rest of the week was fairly uneventful - had a few last good meals, did a little shopping, and got together with Kanika and Rohit for dinner which was nice.

Friday morning I got up crazy early and began the long journey home. The flights were generally fine, although I don't know what crazy schedule they serve you food on. It ended up that I ate not very much of a lot of meals, but they tended to smell a lot which bothered my stomach. I was very glad to get on the ground in London and eat a sandwich and yogurt at Pret a Manger!

I napped a little on both flights - since the second flight landed at 7:30 Austin time I was trying to avoid napping, but I just could not keep my eyes open for a while. Luckily I didn't have any trouble getting to sleep when I got home.

Kudos to the Dallas airport for streamlining customs/immigration! If you have a US passport you can now just answer a few questions at a kiosk (and kiosks are plentiful) which meant I had plenty of time to make my connection. (and eat at Chili's, which makes it the second time that's the first US restaurant I've eaten at after an India trip) Conversely, Heathrow is pretty terrible when you have to change terminals - it's a ton of walking and you have to wait for a bus, then more walking and going through security again. Heathrow is generally a nice airport with good shopping/eating, but boy is it inefficient...

Anyway, I'm back home now, and readjusting to the US/US time zones is going nicely. (yay sleep and melatonin!)