Off to India

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: India Travel Log , Travel

Yesterday I started taking the malaria pills, which I’ll now have to take everyday that I am in India, and continue for seven days after I leave.  The doctor said they may “make you feel edgy,” but I haven’t experienced that.

With my bag packed early Thursday morning, it was the first time that I had a minute, unhurried, to sit and think: I’d been running all week, tying up lose ends, knowing I would be away (in India and Asia) for perhaps a year or more.  Billy asked me “how I felt” the morning of my flight: “are you excited?”

I didn’t feel anything. I’d been so hurried the past week that I hadn’t stopped to think about it. But also, unlike when I traveled before, this time I had no pre expectations as to what I would find in India. Perhaps it was because I knew nothing about this city I was headed to (Bangalore, also known as Bangeluru), or because my expectations in the past had often been incorrect.

I have to note that Emirates Airlines was terrific; nice planes, very pleasant flight crew, and the stewardesses have the best uniforms in the air!

When I arrived in Dubai airport, I had a few hours waiting for my connecting flight (I’d been on the plane for twelve hours, arriving at 9:am, 6pm in NYC).

At Dubai Airport

Ever since my first international travel in 1973 (to Milan Italy), all the airports I’ve traveled through (Argentina, Mexico, France, England, Israel, to name a few) all look pretty much the same –  with shops, newsstands, food courts and kiosks.

The only difference in Dubai was that in addition to all that and the signs directing you to gates, baggage, toilets and such, they also had signs pointing to “prayer rooms.”  As tired as I was it sparked a “you’re in a foreign land” moment.  Beyond that, and the $5 cup of Starbucks coffee, there was nothing new.

I met a middle-aged Canadian woman, there with her son of about eight years old, who said she’d been living in Dubai for ten years (her husband was an airline pilot). “It’s a nice place to raise a family. Though the workers aren’t paid  very well” she said. “ The only thing I don’t like is that it can be a bit superficial: everyone is trying to one-up each other.” Hmm, maybe its not so different after all.

When I finally arrived at the Bangalore (Bengaluru) airport in India five hours later, it too looked like most others.

During my ride from the airport to Bangalore however, the commonality of other places disappeared.  I passed an never-ending city under construction; virtually every little barrio I passed appeared to be in disarray, with piles of rock, ruble and dirt, and crumbling buildings.

The second thing that struck me was the incredible number of motorcycles, scooters and motorized rickshaws.

Growing up as a New Yorker, I’ve always recognized the rushed-insanity of how we drive there — when compared to other cities in America. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, they too were a bit erratic and mindless of lanes and traffic rules.

Yet being here, by comparison, made all those other drivers seem like amateurs when it comes to rushed-insanity and disregard for traffic rules and regulations.

I simply resigned myself to the fact that the worst that could happen was that would I die in a traffic accident, and thereafter took in the sights, sounds, and confusion of the moment without worry: I was simply too tired — after traveling twenty-four hours on virtually no sleep — to care.

My hotel was modest, but for $30 a night, it had all the basic accommodations I needed: a clean bathroom, air-conditioning, cable T, and comfortable bed.


About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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