Jan 13, 2013: arrived at the JFK airport at noon, the gate at 1:30pm just in time for boarding. There were a few noticeable changes as the flight progressed and the miles from America grew…
Grandma calls it culturalization – the slow disintegrating of the sanitary standard I have become proud to call a cornerstone of America’s landscape – that all bathrooms must have a toilet, running water, seat covers, and potentially even a soap dispenser. By the time the flight was over, the plane’s sinks weren’t draining, the garbage was overflowing, there was no tp remaining and the aroma of the cabin was that of curry spices.
But we made it to New Delhi, where a 6 hour layover without wifi awaited us before we completed our final leg of the day’s journey to Chennai. The Sloves clan examined every item of every store – gadgets, accessories, clothes, books, tchotchkes. Despite the dull entertainment, or lack thereof, the universal airport offered us, Shanon kept our spirits high with massages and positive energy. The flight was delayed an hour, but that didn’t bother me. For what does it matter? I was so excited to be in India, though my exhaustion and jet lag masked that a bit.
At midnight on Monday, January 14 we landed in Chennai, which means ‘beautiful’ and is the 4th largest city in India (formerly known as Madras). We were greeted by our beautiful tour guide, Lakuma, who will be our fearless leader for the next few weeks. Our group of 15 predominantly older well-seasoned-traveling women loaded onto the bus, and we drove through the city to our hotel.
At 1 in the morning the city was deserted – it felt as though I were driving through a post-apocalyptic movie scene with deserted run down storefronts, garbage lining the street, stray dogs circling the bus, old rusted metal structures that were completing their centennial decay, with no humans in sight. Lakuma assured us we will see some of the city’s 10 million people the next day.
When we arrived at the hotel, grandma and I were ready for bed. You may be surprised to know that I took the time to shower but grandma didn’t! And upon this, I realized that from just 24 hours of airplane food and airports, my BO, breath, farts, and other bodily functions already smelled the putrid smell of digested turmeric and other curry spices.
I slept soundly in our plush bed, and when I woke we had a wonderful breakfast and briefing of our trip and Indian customs from Lakuma. She bestowed pearls if wisdom to us, such as:
‘the tour of the colorful south India is selling like a hot cake’
‘Less baggage. More fun.’
And ‘the trash adds to our colors.’
And with that, we loaded the bus, and our first real day in India began.
The sights, smells, hustle and bustle was awesome. Words really can’t cut it, so see below for pictures: