India Day One (or: Jetlag is a bitch)

I’m one day in to this adventure on the other side of the world, and I wish I had more exciting stories to share already. But there’s time for that, to be sure.

The flight(s) over here were perhaps the most daunting travel I’ve ever experienced, not the least of which because the in-flight entertainment on the flight from Seattle to Amsterdam was down. Ten hours with no free movies to watch?! Tragedy!

The worst part was easily the constant time changing – 19 hours in the air turned into jumping 36 hours forward by the time I landed in Delhi at midnight. But more on that later.

As I boarded the double-decker jet bound for Asia, the third of three planes for the trip, I said a little prayer – please just let me sit by someone cool. And by cool, I really just meant someone I could talk to.

Enter Judy. 50 something and from Florida, she’s been to India five times, this time heading to meditate for a month. Between naps, meals and movies (working TVs!) we talked about what to expect, how to get by, and most importantly how to enjoy yourself in this totally different world, something I seem to need reminding of. When we landed, she even introduced me to her driver so I could get a reliable ride to my hotel (tho I think he still ran up the meter). Prayers answered, indeed.

Despite being exhausted and having slept only a few hours over the previous day and a half, I couldn’t sleep at all when I got to the hotel – my body thought it was midday, after all. I nodded off and on and gave up at about 5:30a, instead just reading till the sun came up.

My first day in New Delhi has been long and, admittedly trying. I managed a shower without opening my mouth (small victories!) and a long walk around the main bazaar in Paharganj, a clustered, bustling region of the city preferred by backpackers and bargainers. (My hotel is just off the bazaar, quite nice for its location and while I haven’t seen a lot of western faces, I’m encouraged when I do see them here and there.) I was stared at and approached several times, once even drawn into a nice enough man’s tourist agency where he offered camel rides on the India/Pakistan border (I passed). It was never anything I couldn’t handle, but still a far cry from leisurely wandering the streets of Rome or London.

I had wanted to attempt the National Museum, India Gate and more, but jetlag quickly took over and I found myself napping for the better part of the afternoon (middle of the night in the states!). It was the most I’ve slept in two days. I did manage to pick up some safe drinking water, and I spoke with the front desk here about how best to get around (auto-rickshaw!), so I’ll try to see more tomorrow.

It’s 6:30p as I type this, and I plan on keeping myself awake for at least a little while to try getting my body on India time (she says as she yawns). But I’ll make it an early night – the satellite TV here is broadcasting the Oscars live at 6am! You can take the girl out of the States, but you can’t take the live-tweeting the Oscars outta the girl.