Greetings from India!
I arrived in Delhi last Friday at 1:30 am local time, and along with my friends, E and E, I was greeted by a travel agent rep who, in exchange for $1,020 cash, handed us the hotel and travel vouchers we’d need for our three-day weekend around the Golden Triangle: Delhi -> Jaipur -> Agra -> Delhi.
Delhi International (Indira Gandhi) Airport was kind of overwhelming even at 2 am, when the airport is relatively calm and empty. After waiting almost an hour for our luggage (huge plane), we learned that to get to the domestic “terminal” for our flight to Jaipur, we would need to find a taxi because the domestic terminal is 10 km away from the international terminal. Don’t ask me why the terminals are so misleadingly named – why not just call them separate airports and set the right expectations?
Lucky for us the travel agent rep (how much did it suck that he had to hang around the airport at 2 am waiting for us to show up?) directed us to the prepaid taxi line, ordered us a taxi (Rp 300, about $6 US), and then put the three of us into a rusty old car powered by what appeared to be a lawnmower engine.
For reasons I can’t understand, the three of us had to squish into the back seat because clearly the car required a driver and a man in the passenger seat to take us to the domestic terminal. However, if I had to guess the second guy’s purpose, it’d be to push the car in the event of a breakdown on the road.
We arrived at the domestic terminal only to discover that it had been taken over by FedEx and all those other businesses that you conceptually know use the airports, but that you’ve never actually seen while there. As it was only 2:30 am, we sat at an outdoor Indian fast-food cafe (that, by the way, had its own altar for worship – something you don’t see every day at McDonald’s) until around 5 am.
There was a crush of people waiting with us on the security line to board the 6:15 am Indigo Air flight to Jaipur. The line was long, but luckily someone at Indigo Air had the brilliant idea of including trivia games on the back of the “No Bore-ding Pass” to keep us entertained. (These details are perhaps more entertaining after being awake for 36 hours).
Security was unimpressive, with men and women separated for “modesty” reasons. There’s a big sign listing which people in the country do not have to undergo security screening (e.g., the President of India). I’m sure the President of India will find this sign helpful when next he flies commercial domestic.
The little people mover bus that took us from the gate to the plane actually hit traffic en route to the plane! At 5:30 am, our people mover bus actually had to honk at various other vehicles so we could make it to the plane. I mention this fact as a little bit of foreshadowing about driving habits I observed in India.
The Indigo Air plane was shiny, new and comfy. It felt just like being on JetBlue, actually. I’d highly recommend it, especially because the one-way ticket cost just $55 US and it saved us a 6-hour train/car ride.
We landed in Jaipur at 7:15 am after a smooth, 30-minute flight, and we were promptly greeted by our driver extraordinaire for the next three days, Manoj.