I'm about to thoroughly break a promise.
Once upon a time, towards the end of the last millennium, I promised myself never to return to New Delhi. Guess what? I'm soon on my way to that very city and Rajasthan again! And I don't even know what I'm going there fore. Turkish Airlines just waved a cheap ticket in front of me, and I willingly grabbed it. Oh well. It could be worse. I think.
The last time I was there, it was mainly the conditions at the airport that made me move on to Kathmandu rather quickly. True, I was less than a seasoned traveler back then. Today I would probably cope better (we'll see!), but looking back at my notes from my visit, I can see why I hated the place.
Take the toilets, for instance. It was the first time in my life that I had to use a lavatory with no door to hide behind while doing my business there. But if you have to, you have to, and I really, really had to.
It went fairly well, until I got to the part where one wipes one's ass. Inexperienced as I was, I had brought no toilet paper, and there certainly was none of the kind available inside my stall either. This was when the missing doors became a great feature. I waved my hand, and immediately some guy with a roll of toilet paper appeared. He sold me what I craved, at one rupee per wipe. Expensive, but well worth it, I thought.
I also remember that the toilets had muzak. You know those birthday cards that play something quite, but not entirely unlike a melody when you open them? Well, they had one of those hanging on the wall by the sinks there. It played the theme from Lambada. Six seconds long, over and over again. Which was quite fitting, as few people spent more than six seconds in the airport restrooms. Even though three men were hard at working changing batteries in the Lambada card and keeping the mirrors and sinks nice and shining, no one ever went anywhere near the toilets to clean them, apparently.
I saw few other passengers at the airport, but hundreds of people worked there, doing nothing. They just walked around, looking rather gloomy. Every now and then someone would come up to me and say "Don't worry, sahib Torrissen". This kind of freaked me out a little bit. First, why did they know my name, and second, what was there not to worry about? Did they pity me for being about to enter the accident-prone Indian air space? I still don't know.
Oh, and the food was awful. Golden Fried chicken turned out to taste decidedly fishy. And not smoked salmon-fishy. Not at all.
Fortunately, everything should be in perfect order there now. The last thing I did before leaving, was to put eight full pages of my best ideas for improving the airport into a suggestion box hanging on the wall there.
On my way to New Delhi I'll get to spend an evening and a morning rediscovering Istanbul. That's the price I have to pay to get a ticket to India at roughly the same price as a ticket to my hometown in Northern Norway would come to.
I'm looking forward to an alternative and extended Easter in Hindu-land, although this might turn into an a lot more hot experience than I normally would want.
I'll try to keep you posted here about my Indian early summer during the next few weeks.
See you later!