Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Travel to India

The flight to India was a good primer for the trip. We befriended our neighbor for the 13 hr flight, who was an Indian living in LA, so he gave us some good tips. I watched a movie or two on my personal screen, but then found a Berlitz language program was an option, so I worked on learning a little Tamil (language spoken in Vellore), and Hindi. That was rather hard to concentrate on by hour 6, so then I practiced some Italian and Portuguese as those were more familiar to me. Somewhere in there I managed to fall so dead asleep that Kristen, my classmate, was worried she would not be able to get me off the plane- I have realized neck pillows are the key to sleeping on planes. They prevent me from leaning on and/or drooling on, my neighbors.

Our arrival in Delhi was interesting, as we deboarded off the back door, as it was closer to our seats, onto the tarmac, and then boarded a bus to the terminal. I realize US-style boarding indoors is nice when there is inclement weather, but it would be nice to be able to board/deplane from both ends- sure would save time!

Right as we entered the terminal, we noticed it was extremely hazy inside- almost like there was a fire somewhere- but it did not smell and no one was running for their lives. Supposedly this was due to construction, but when we went outside, there was still quite a thick haze. When we boarded another plane to Chennai, the pilot said there was a visibility of 2 km! Other planes on the runway were even hazy. As a person with pretty bad asthma, this was a bit disconcerting.

On our flight to Chennai (which I discovered is pronounced CHEN-ay), we met another nice man who worked at a nice department store in the city, who spent a good hour going over our Lonely Planet India book and giving us advice on what to do, where to stay, and where to shop!! Everyone we meet here is amazingly friendly and so helpful, I have never experienced anything like it in my travels.

Finally, we arrived in Chennai, there was no haze to be seen, only lush green palm trees and blue sky, as well as a nice 80 degree temp- where we met up with the rest of our classmates- and we headed out to Vellore, 2 hours away by van.

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