Story time. 0900 on May 6th 2014 New Delhi, India. We are all packed up and loaded in a Taxi and on our way to the airport to catch a 1200 flight to Dharmashala. All of a sudden baby Neko starts acting kind of funny, turns around and vomits all over Kari as she is holding him in the car. Not the most convenient timing when all of your extra clothes are packed up and you’re getting ready to board a plane in 100 plus heat. Oh well, we wipe up as best we can with baby wipes and give the driver an extra nice tip to deal with the mess. Except for being covered in vomit, reasonably smooth sailing thus far, airport security was a breeze and the flow of people was amazing for an airport.
It made me laugh at the debacle it is flying in the States and how ridiculous our Security protocol and procedures are. Are all these infringes on personal space and property really providing us more security? I can’t really think of any headlines where TSA had saved the day once again. I can only really remember a recent story about a NFL player causing a scene. Poor Aldon Smith, I find it highly unlikely that (although collectively, they are not that intelligent) an NFL player is a legit bomb threat. He probably said the word “bomb” while the TSA agent was violating his personal space. Ole TSA, they do try hard…but what a joke. Getting off topic. The point here is that with close to 2 billion people in India they have designed at least their airports to handle mass amounts of people traffic at blazing speeds. We where through the ticketing counter and security in less than 5 minutes.
With some time to spare at the airport, we found a nice kids play area. Every airport should have these, they are life savers. Allowing the kids to run and crawl around before an airplane ride is a true blessing. Kari had developed a little Delhi diarrhea and had to run off to the bathroom real quick. I saw next to the kids play area was a massage parlor. I looked in and got Kari a 45 minutes head and neck massage for around$13. Things where looking great. We had about a 90 minute wait to board our plane, then about a 90 minute flight, and then a 30 minute drive to where would be calling home. All in all, in about 4 hrs we should be sitting in our new home. I was feeling great, kids where happy, Kari was happy, I was happy; and the only thing that could have made this better is if a guy popped around the corner, wearing hat with the words INDIA written on it, having a tray strapped to his waist that had full glasses of beer, yelling “Beer Here”
We went to board the plane 30 minutes prior to departure at 11:30. The gate agent said that there was a delay, because of the heavy raining in Dharmashala and we would get an update at 12:30 and hopefully depart at 13:00. 1300 we get the news that the plane has been cancelled. Ouch. When trying to pinch pennies traveling between places is always the largest expense, which ever mode of travel you choose. This was looking to cost us some money, luckily we had a few days to spare before classes began. After 2 hours this is what we had figured out.
1.There was no other flight option today or for the next 3 days. We did not want to stay in Delhi.
2. A train left at 2100 and would take 24 hrs to travel to a neighboring town where would then have an additional 3 hr ride.
3. private taxi would take anywhere from 4-12 hrs from the 3 different sources. An 8 hr difference, HUH.
One of the few english speaking employees of Spice Jet (a domestic Indian airline) who had helped along the way came up and said he had a friend that would help us and for a good price, better than that of the airport taxis. So we decided why not and this is where the story gets interesting.
We headed outside to wait for our taxi with one of the bag handlers of Spice Jet. What we know at the moment is that we have hired a car to Dharmashala and it would take between 4-12 hrs. Up rolls are ride and it was a pleasant surprise. A decent Indian SUV, designed almost like the old vans that I grew up with in the 80’s. It had 2 full seats behind the driver seat and then a bench seat behind those. From the car, out pop tweedle dum and tweedle dee. These two, I have thought long and hard about. I did not want to immortalize them by telling this story. But, it had to be done. The first fellar, slim n trim introduces himself as “tour guide”. I think because he never stopped talking. The other fellar was hearty and meaty, spoke few words, and introduced himself as “driver”. They help us load are bags into the car and as we turn the car about to enter the vehicle, I see “tour guide” rub his hand along the back right quarter panel of the vehicle to help adhere a decal that had just come partially peeled away from the vehicle. Upon further investigation, I notice that this decal says “tourist vehicle” and this decal is in mint condition compared to the rest of the vehicle. I’m not sure about you, but the picture forming in my mind is that tweedle dum and tweedle dee borrowed their cousins vehicle, stopped by their uncle’s house and got a tourist decal, and figured they would take a trip to Dharmashala and make a few Rubies.
They looked harmless enough and they were our best option. So off we went. Uhhh…language was a barrier and as we exited the airport and joined the dirt roads, with patches of concrete that the locals referred to as what we know as highways. For the first hour we shaked and baked our way through New Delhi traffic while Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, who were both on their phones the whole time and would take a break every now and then, look right at each other, say nothing, and have that look on their face “oh shit, do we really know what we are doing?” I know that look, it’s on my own personal top 3 list. Through all their phone conversations the only frequent word I heard was Dharmashala. I figured these bone heads had probably never been more than 100 miles outside the city before and where calling to get directions and once we found the way they would know what to do. Boy, was I wrong.
After we had cleared the city traffic we had been in route for 90 minutes and it was now 2:30 in the afternoon and we were supposed to have landed at 1:30 and been settled into our home for the next few months. But, instead Tweedle Dum And Tweedle Dee have us stopped saying that it is a good spot for food. They point us towards the food. I look around to see them talking with a couple of taxi drivers and all of them are pointing and chatting. Looks like giving and receiving directions from my viewpoint. We ponder our near future as all four of us enter a rest stop to use the toilets and gather some food. Shortly thereafter we are on our way again. Hopefully, in the right direction.
We are laughing hysterically. What we know at this point in time is, our driver and “tourist guide” are freakin amateurs (to put it nicely) and have no idea of how to get where we are going. It could take anywhere from 4-12 hrs to get to where we are going if we know directions. You gotta role with the punches. Both kids are sleeping at this time. But, Kari looks rough and is still dealing with a case of Delhi Belly. She looks pasty and as she fades in and out of consciousness, I swear she sharted. She denies this, but was very lucid at this point in time.
Back to the lame ass version of Jay and Silent Bob. Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum have persisted to slow down at every exit and crossroad and ask some person along side of the road if we were headed in the right direction. This carried on until about 9pm. We had been on the road 7 hrs and where pretty tired and not entirely sure that we were headed towards the Himalayas or the Indian Sea. We had stopped at a hotel/restaurant. I was able to get the number of the Ayurvedic doctor I was studying with in Dharmashala and get him on the phone to make sure that we were headed in the right direction at least. I got Dr. on the phone with Tweedle Dum. A few minutes later, I am back on the phone with the Dr. and he tells me that the two do know where we are going, but thought that we where going to a different Dharmashala. That is why they thought it could be as little as 4-7 hrs. In reality we have already traveled seven hrs and had about 7 more to go. I go over and talk it over with Kari. We conclude that it would nice to stop for the night and travel the rest of the way in the morning. As I turn around to go over and chat with our drivers. I see them standing on the side of a wall. Both of them urinating, with a lot of giggle and jolly. From here, it looks like these two men are playing swords. I am still astonished. I haven’t seen a game of swords since I was 8 years old. I still don’t know if I should give them props or add it to the list of things they will have to work on in their next life.
After the swords match, the drivers decided that stopping did not fit their agenda , and we jumped in the car and where off. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, except for the continued frequent stopping at every junction to assure that we where going the right way. It got more annoying as the night progressed and people where hard to find. We would sometimes sit at a junction for 5-10 minutes. Which seemed like eternity at the time. All in all we arrived in the town we had originally plan to get to, 13 hrs after our plane was scheduled to land.
At this point we hopped around the town looking for a hotel open, being it was creeping in on 3am. Found one that looked decent but was ridiculously high-priced. The only other open hotel had a very reasonable rate, so we take it! unfortunately after we unload the kids and bags and head into our crash pad for the night we realize it smells extremely similar to the camel we were riding on the previous day. Oh well, it’s a bed, and we were 4 tired creatures, tired enough to sleep through the stench. We woke up bright in early, hoped in the first taxi we saw, which was completely decked out in Bob Marley and marijuana stickers driven by an Indian with dreadlocks. After getting in, Cheech turns and heads the wrong direction, “umm what ya doing buddy?” He lets us know he needs to use our payment to put enough gas in his ride to get us to where we are going. Of course he does. Why would a taxi drier have gas in their car to get 5 minutes up a hill, right?
It wasn’t easy or planned. The kids slept through a lot of it, which helped. We stayed positive and tried to enjoy the ride. Thought it would be good to throw a story in there that isn’t all roses and bubbles. Stories like these tend to get funnier with time. Hope you enjoyed it, if not offer some pointers.