DC friends are getting married in India next week; although I can’t attend the wedding in Goa, I’ll spend a few days traveling the Golden Triangle circuit with the crew before they head south. But before we get to that, I’d like to tell you how lucky I feel to have employee flight benefits.
There’s nothing better than Delta’s BusinessElite cabin. In fact, I’d probably fly to Tahiti and back just for the in-flight experience complete with welcome aboard Champagne and a seemingly happy steward asking for your dinner order. It’s like having an attendant who loves the company you work for as much as you do.
I meet my best buddy, Poppa Bear, in Mumbai around midnight and we have a few laughs and local Kingfisher brews before our 6 a.m. puddle-jump to Delhi. Standing in the duty free shop, which looks like every other duty free shop ever seen, I’m one of just a few Westerners and it’s a neat thing. Judging from the way we were packed into the tarmac shuttle and the fact that India is home to 1.25 billion people, I’m expecting crowded to be a way of life here.
A few observations: like in Istanbul, queue etiquette means every man for himself. Like in Vietnam, squat toilets are popular here (read: bring your own TP). 1 USD equals about 61 Rupees, so you can feast like a king for five dollars.
Once we land in Delhi, Nat scurries away with his driver, heading for Agra. I’m meeting two other friends to tour this city, but there isn’t a currency exchange at this small airport and the prepaid taxi service only accepts Rupees. A flash of panic blows through me. I am alone, without means and forgot to tell my bank to expect overseas transactions. This is what I get for neglecting to properly plan. Wait! There’s an ATM hiding in the corner and it reluctantly spits out money, mooooooney. Maybe I will learn to enjoy the thrill of winging it, maybe.
Meeting friends from the U.S. in a far away land once seemed like somewhat risky behavior, but this time it’s like rinse and repeat. Why was this scary on the way to SE Asia? I guess situational unfamiliarity is more intimidating than the act of traveling alone. Nonetheless, it is so, so good to reach my destination and get big hugs from Matty and The Grem!