India - on tour in the north

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May 15th 2016
Published: May 21st 2016
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I use this blog to remember things and keep my family and friends up to date on what I’m doing… but anyone is welcome J This one is a bit more rambling than usual (and probably full of typing mistakes) because I tidied it up in a break from writing a Uni paper (but it’s the last one ever! Assuming I pass J)

Hey all!

Monday 9th May 2016 – Bangalore to Delhi and Gurgaon

We left the apartment at 1am and Noor was ready and waiting. The journey to the airport usually takes 1 to 1 ½ hours but it took 35 minutes because there was no traffic. It was really random seeing the city with no traffic, we didn’t even see another car until we got to the main road and then there were more dogs on the road than cars.

We arrived at the airport in good time and said bye to Noor. I got a bit choked up when Brian said bye to him and asked Noor really seriously to look after me. Noor likes Brian a lot… they had a good joke together (one of Noor’s favourite questions to me every morning on the way to work is “Sir still sleeping?”) and Noor has been very keen to know when Brian is come is coming back, so Brian said he’d see him again if I was still here the next time he could visit and that seemed to cheer Noor up.

I forgot that when you try to enter an airport in India they check your tickets as only passengers are allowed inside the terminal… I could access mine but Brian couldn’t so I surprised myself and him by coming up with a technical solution (is the only reason I’m mentioning it, I’m so un technical normally). I created a Wifi Hotspot with my phone…

In the airport we got Brian checked in (we were with the same airline but I had to wait) and chilled out for a while… then had to say bye. I won’t dwell on it… but it was much nicer than usual knowing that my flights are booked to visit him soon.

Jet Airways eventually let me check in and then I had to wait THREE HOURS! I was super tired so once I’d finished chatting to Brian over in international departures via Wifi I found somewhere to sleep. And I was so happy I hadn’t lost some of my backpacking skills to just sleep anywhere… so I slept 1 ½ hours on chairs in the airport… then ALL of the 2 ½ hour flight to Delhi (even pretty much through them shutting off the engines on the runway, told us there was a technical fault, then fixed it)… and half an hour of the journey from the airport to the office. I was also grateful for my backpacking skills on arrival because they helped me look presentable.

I had a good day in the office in Gurgaon then headed to Park Place, where my colleagues Sharon and Jane live, because I’d be staying with Jane. The journey took a very welcome 40 minutes (not like my usual 90!) and I was back earlier than Jane. So she suggested I go to the nearby South Point Mall (I was borrowing my boss Lisa’s driver as she was in the UK… and Yogesh is the business so knew where we were going) which I did and I was amazed at the number of beauty salons. Really random but I spotted a Thai massage place and had a foot massage. The masseuse really went to town on my bad leg. I didn’t even mention it to her but she seemed determined to get the lump of scar tissue out and I actually think she’s improved it.

I then went to Park Place which is a typical gated community, the type of place many expats live. It was like arriving into a haven from the traffic with tidy manicured gardens and signs to the gym and swimming pool. Jane’s apartment was lovely and I got settled whilst Jane cooked dinner (homemade flan with nice vegetables and an amazing pudding). Sharon arrived later and we all ate together and caught up. I hadn’t seen Sharon since she left the UK in March so it was so lovely to see her. I managed to stay awake till 11.30pm… I went to sleep thinking that poor Brian is still on the same plane he started on 10 or so hours ago.

Tuesday 10th May 2016 – Gurgaon

I had a nice 40-minute drive into the office and spent a good day there, having lunch with some of the team and just chatting about typical life stuff. I’d gone yesterday with one to a Thai restaurant onsite and it was the best red curry I’d ever had. Some of the girls wanted to take me somewhere else today but Jane had done me a lovely packed lunch so we all sat in the cafeteria and shared our fruit - the mango and pomegranate was amazing.

The journey back was again very pleasant… the traffic is bad in Gurgaon but not as bad as in Bangalore so it was a nice relief. The horns were still a constant though… I really didn’t understand it at first because it just seemed a pointless activity with everyone honking for no apparent reason, the traffic is stopped anyway and nobody can go anywhere. But I’ve eventually come to realise it can mean ‘get out of the way’ (usually when someone is in the way because nobody stays in lane, the cars just wander) or ‘you’re about to hit me’. I wouldn’t be surprised if they teach horn language during driving lessons (I have since asked and they don’t).

Jane cooked another lovely dinner… homemade pizza on a scone base. And I watched Game of Thrones through the VPN Brian set up for me… which I’m impressed I managed to get working.

Wednesday 11th May 2016 – Gurgaon and Delhi to Chandigarh

I was up bright and early for my 9.15am flight to Chandigarh which is a bit further north than Delhi. I’d heard Chandigarh was very nice. Jane and I left at the same time… although Jane was headed to the pool and I got picked up by Yogesh at 7am. The drive to Delhi airport only took 35 minutes. Yogesh knows what he’s doing and has helped me out with some driving questions… like why do people go the wrong way around the roundabouts… I check in online during the drive and was a bit concerned to find that my departure time seemed to have been changed to an hour later… I had hoped this was a mistake but when I arrived at the airport… it was in fact an hour late.

I got checked in and went through security… Sharon messaged and was also in the airport as flying to Jaipur (where I’d meet her tomorrow). We met up and had breakfast and some place that shall remain nameless (I’ll get back into healthy eating when I finish Uni…!). I waited for long time in the airport… got chatting to some Kiwis and then when we made it on the plane we were sat there for just over an hour before moving. I was feeling terrible because of the people waiting for me in Chandigarh. Once we took off it was only a 35 minute flight… I fell out with the German guy at the end of the aisle (those that know me will know that I do not fall out with people, but he was SO rude to me I had to be rude back) and then as we landed the guy sat next to me finally plucked up courage to speak (I could tell he’d been wanting to the whole time) and we had a nice chat. His main observation was that I’m too busy and need to relax because I haven’t stopped doing something all flight.

We flew over Chandigarh and it looked nice… more spread out than Bangalore and less dusty than Delhi. After getting my bags I found the car from the hotel still waiting for me (thankfully, poor guy, I was 2 hours late) and we drove out. The first thing we came across was a herd of cows crossing the road! Then we had a quite scary ride into the city… it was not a fun journey because the driving was so crazy! My hotel The Lalit was really nice… less traditional than the others hotel I’ve stayed in but very smart. I noticed groups of young athletic guys around the lobby… and thought it was random… and then thought maybe it’s an IPL team but couldn’t ask for fear of looking like a groupie.

I got into my room and then was straight back down to reception to meet my contacts who were waiting for me. I felt so bad being so late but they completely understood. We drove the short (only 5 minutes!) distance to the company and I had a lovely afternoon working with lovely people. Many of them had visited my company in the UK, living there for a year, so we had a lot to talk about. One of them even asked me if I knew the Stagecoach 66 bus! They also told me later that the Punjab IPL team were in fact in the hotel…

Back at the hotel later I wanted to go for a swim but prepared to talk to my Uni tutor… then went to the gym (which was amazing, huge and with really good music… even Skrillex!), had a call with my tutor (to replace a tutorial I missed whilst in India) and then had dinner in the restaurant (wanted something light… but got a starter sized Caesar salad that was bigger than most main courses). Back in the room I chilled out for a bit and realised there was a lot of loud music. I did some investigating and there was a club in the hotel… it was officially closed so my only guess was that the IPL team was having a party.

Thursday 12th May 2016 –Chandigarh and to Jaipur

I was back out for work at 9am and had another good day in the office. I met a team member who’d come back from Swindon at the weekend and my friend Carl had been to his leaving drinks the last week/ Carl had messaged me to say he was out for it and it just shows what a small world it is J

I had to leave the office at 2.30pm to get back to the hotel and then get to the airport for my next flight. I spent the journey to the airport looking out the window, Chandigarh is a really nice city and nowhere near as busy as Delhi or Bangalore. It was quite spaced out and green. The team there would like me to come over a weekend sometime and suggested visiting places like Shimla, which is 60km away and where Indian Summers (UK TV show) is set.

I had a bit of a wait in the airport and noticed that people just seem to like chatting to me. This time it was an Indian couple who were interested in where I was from and what I was doing. Once on the plane I had an amusing time. There was another European guy (unfortunately his accent sounded English but I wasn’t 100%!)(MISSING) who was rude to everyone… it was a really small plane with not much space for bags… so he sat in a seat at the back and when the persons whose seat it was arrived he said wouldn’t move until the cabin cleared because he was waiting for somewhere to put his bags?! So the other guy had to wait in the aisle. The guy next to me wanted to chat too… he was retired and had been in the military so was telling me stories about the old times in Chandigarh (which is also a military airport). He was not a rule follower though… as we were taxiing for take-off he made a call and said “we are just taking off”. And we were, literally taking off. During the flight he got a text message. And then as we were going down to land (the crew were even in their seats for landing) he undid his seat belt to go to the restroom… I said I’m not sure you can do this right now but he insisted so I moved out of the way and then he got told off… oops. He just giggled J

Once I arrived in Delhi for my transfer to Jaipur I found out my flight was delayed so had a 3-hour wait. I found a café and did some work and Uni and listened to the music, which I can only describe as techno panpipes. I also watched the birds that seemed to live inside the airport. I made a new friend at the gate, people are very friendly and interested here and on the way from and to two flights I had people moving other people out the way for me (“let her through”) which is a bit awkward. We spent a long time sitting on the bus waiting to get on the plane… but one thing here is that they do turn around planes very quickly (they can refuel whilst loading and unloading). I was hoping we weren’t going to be too much longer as Sharon was in Jaipur and wouldn’t sleep until I arrived safe J The flight was ok… just a bit bumpy. I again had chivalrous people clearing the way for me which is a bit embarrassing and unnecessary.

It was hot on arrival in Jaipur, I got my bags quick and left the airport terminal but could see no sign with my name on… I looked around for a bit and got my phone out ready to call the driver and then saw someone waving wildly at me… Sharon had given him a photo so he knew who he was looking for. The drive to the airport took all of 10 minutes. The Jaipur Marriott is a very nice hotel… I arrived at 11.30pm and people were heading out to a party. Check in didn’t go great and the nice guy helping me was a bit scared of me I think… as we were heading to the room he said “I guess now is not a good time to show you around miss?!” and I said no. He did do me a few favours during the 10 or so hours I was there though/ In the room… I got in a strop because somewhere along the line someone had put one of those plastic tags through the lock on my bag, which you couldn’t open without scissors. So back down to reception I went, the nice buy helped me and I ended up in the restaurant eating dinner at midnight because I realised I was starving.

Friday 13th May 2016 – Jaipur to Delhi and Gurgaon

Sharon and I met for breakfast which was very nice! Then she dropped me off at my office on the way to work. I had a great day, massively overwhelmed by the kindness and welcoming nature of the people I am working with. It’s quite humbling. The only trouble is being fed a lot.

Sharon picked me up from work and we headed to the airport. It was a tough evening, I was tired and missing home but Sharon took care of me J Our flight was delayed (that’s 4 out of 6 flights this week) so we didn’t get back to Park Place and Jane’s apartment until very late. I was glad to get into bed.

Saturday 14th May - Gurgaon

Jane, Sharon and I headed out early to De Ghent’s, the café Lisa recommended to us all before coming to India. They are all regulars and I’d heard so much about it that I was excited. The food was indeed amazing and it was in a nice setting. I had runny eggs on a muffin, with hollandaise sauce and bacon.

Back at Park Place I studied and Jane researched our trip to the Maldives! We also took a walk to the store on site which I think is amazing, has everything I would need and more than the Spar it takes me half an hour in traffic to get to (it’s only two kms away). We then went to the gym which again was amazing, I’ve been missing exercise so much so hope I can find one that’s convenient and doesn’t involve a lot of time sat in traffic soon. I Facetimed by best friends who were at my lovely friend Georgina’s non-baby shower… that was nice but made me miss them more.

Sharon cooked us dinner in the evening… it was fantastic! Chicken mince lasagne (because no beef mince available) with garlic bread and homemade wedges. Sharon says she hasn’t cooked for people for a while but it didn’t show! I loved the really crispy top! And she also made a kind of cheesecake with Oreo cookies, it was so nice. We had a lovely evening and I’m glad I get to spend time with those two. They’re a good influence.

Saturday 15th May – Gurgaon and Delhi to Bangalore

I was working back in Bangalore next week so needed to get back to my apartment. I could have gone Friday night but would have got back so late and it was nice to spend time with Jane and Sharon. They also provided a very good environment for me to study in which was helpful. Jane’s driver Telsjir took me to the airport, he was very nice. And my flight was not delayed this time…

It was a longer flight than the last few I’ve done so I did as much study as I could without internet and played some Sonic the Hedgehog…

Lots of love.

Rach Xx


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