Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey

North India:


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Room Without a View: April 8/9
We left Brandon April 8, 10 am, completed errands and picked up China at 2. China dropped us off at Winnipeg Airport around 2:30 pm in lots of time for our departure on AC268 for Toronto.  Uneventful three hour flight to Toronto. 

On checking in at Toronto we found that our travel agent had not assigned seats on the new tickets she sent. Air Canada was able to  upgrade us to front row with lots of leg room -- no extra charge! Our third seat partner was a young man from Ottawa, who had paid $140.00 for the upgrade! He was meeting his wife in Delhi where she's is doing training for ADOBE.

About midnight, we were served the hot meal: Butter Chicken, basmati rice and a curry veg combo with naan, cuke salad and rice pudding. It was very good. Good selection of movies to watch on our pull-up TV screen but couldn't stay awake. Dozed off and on. Then it was mid-flight snack... very strange chickpeas curry sandwich! Chai is good. Most of the passengers were Indian, returning home, visiting, or business. A few kept crossing from one side to the other in our "leg room." Breakfast was "omelet... sort of" with tomato sauce. They should stay with curries ;-) Melon salad and yogurt was good tho. Then it was time to get ready for landing at Indira Gandhi International.

We had filled out our immigration papers and went through in the shorter queue for people with E- tourist visas. Bill went quickly, no finger-printing but they took Sue-On's -- the first of numerous anti-Chinese biases we noticed in India. We arrived at our meeting place to find our G-Adventures pick-up person. We found their sign only to be told that the driver went to park the car and would soon be back. That's when a horde of other cab drivers descended upon us -- we declined.  Finally, a young man came up and said "Sorry.. .Driver took another guest to a different hotel and will be back in 20 minutes." Then there was word of another half hour stalling. We were outside in 32C temps sweetened with exhaust from all the cars in the parkade. Very clean everywhere though. We were lucky to have found a hard metal bench. Finally, the young man came back  he called the driver to meet us at the curb. It was a woman driver who is sponsored by G-Adventures: "Women Drivers for Women". She had been driving for 5 years.  Her car definitely showed signs of some close encounters. 

It was an interesting long 20 km night drive to our hotel. In India everyone honks their horn as they are passing or wanting to pass - so it was noisy. Drove along a ring road. ..all around the airport are military and police headquarters. Lots of cars and little motorcycle type "cabs" (tuk-tuks) are parked along the roads. 

Our "Good Times Hotel" had a strange entrance...blocked off by a concrete barricade about 20 feet from the front steps. "Wild dogs" roamed and cab drivers smoked outside. Looked a bit worrisome, but the porter came out right away and took our bags. The foyer looked fine - mirrors can do so much! 300 rupees for WIFI for one computer for 3 days. We got to our room, -- it was definitely without a view - no window! But we were told that location had better WIFI connection. It was pretty basic... A/C, twin beds pushed together, duvet, TV, kettle, little fridge, big bathroom with big shower...definitely does not measure up to the 5-star hotels in China or the ones in IndoChina. Just have to remember this is India! 

Had some problems with Internet cutting out and to program the TV. The night manger came up and got us all going again. Very chatty fella but it's sometimes a bit of chore deciphering accents when we are tired! He said he could hire a cab and driver for us to tour the city in the afternoon if we would like. Bottled water is 40 rupees each and beer is 250 rupees - large bottles. They have a restaurant downstairs, for breakfast, lunch, and supper. They also have room service, but we were not hungry. Bill explored a bit downstairs - the manager took him on a late night tour of the facilities: conference rooms down in the basement, teaching room, dining room, etc. They wouldn't let him go walking outside as it is not safe and there are wild dogs around... Shades of Pukatawagan;-) We are in the outskirts, no shops, restaurants etc around. Sue-On did journal writing in her book and Bill caught up on his e-mail mail. We tried a bit of TV watching -- nearly all channels were in Hindi -- but both of us fell asleep till mid-day.

 We met with our guide Parakrum (Perry) our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) and the rest of the travel group at 6 pm. He gave us a schedule and a bunch of forms to fill, then we went out to supper at a restaurant. It was a few of blocks away - through dark alleys, detours, garbage, homes that shouldn't be, etc. It's really quite a cultural shock! The smells, the sounds, the people, all can be overwhelming if one is uptight. 

Crossroads Restaurant is on the main floor of a tall hotel. Quite nice inside with a loud disco/bar downstairs. We shared a "platter" which consisted of chicken various ways and one piece of either fish or ground chicken. Certainly more expensive than IndoChina, Malaysia, and China.  Back at the hotel and went to bed after a bit of "calming down" of our brains with hot tea.

Our daughter China-Li dropped us off at Winnipeg International Airport

Waiting for our flights at Winnipeg and Toronto Pierson Airports

Onboard movies and 2 1/2 meals helped pass the time on the 13 hour flight

The long wait for our transport at Delhi Airport

Our Cabs for Women by Women driver and the long drive to our hotel.

Late night arrival at the Good Times Hotel

Our CEO Perry briefs us on what to expect during the next four weeks.
Our first meal in India - with our fellow adventurers

Our Platter with Fish, Tandoori Chicken, Naan, Noodles, Rice



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