That evening I could not sleep. I am a very anxious person and whilst I enjoy putting myself into awkward situations which I tend resolve, for the duration I worry like mad. Case in point was how I was going to get to the airport at 3.30 am in the morning. Parah Ganj is not [...]

That evening I could not sleep. I am a very anxious person and whilst I enjoy putting myself into awkward situations which I tend resolve, for the duration I worry like mad. Case in point was how I was going to get to the airport at 3.30 am in the morning. Parah Ganj is not the safest or nicest suburb to be trying to hail cabs in the wee hours and the hotel staff were going to charge me R300 for a R150 taxi ride. Lying spread-eagled  in bed under the ceiling fan at 12 midnight with nothing arranged and freaking out big time, I got dressed and went next door to arrange a pre-pay service for R200. I gave a deposit of R50 and managed to get a few hours sleep. In the back of my mind I knew it, but it was what I needed to trick myself into thinking that things were going to be alright so I could sleep. Sure enough 3.30am rolls around, I am standing on the side of a dirty street in the pouring rain and no taxi came. Fortunately as it turns out, three wheel motor rickshaw drivers regularly patrol the street and I was able to negotiate the first one to R200, not too much of a mark-up (as it turns out this is a hell of a markup, it should have been R90 but trying to get a driver to accept that is like blood from a stone).

Domestic Delhi Airport Terminal is utter chaos. There is a method to the madness but the loopholes in that method are so wide that they might not as well bothered. The steps to boarding a plan are:

  1. Arrive at terminal, in separate building get ticket, which is just an A4 printed out page.
  2. Use said page to get into actual departure building.
  3. Put large luggage (but not hand luggage) through large scanner.
  4. Take luggage to check in desks (note flaw, could now take bomb/drugs/midget friend out of hand luggage and place in large luggage).
  5. Check in large luggage and get boarding pass.
  6. Proceed to second security check in where they scan hand luggage. Interestingly there is one queue for men and one for women. Of course the men’s lane is much faster.
  7. Now being in the security enclosed departure terminal near the gates, we have to leave our hand luggage inside while we are escorted one by one out of this terminal to the large luggage to confirm that they have our bag/s for the flight(!). Yes they had mine.
  8. At this point I don’t know what happens, although I think they drive a bus up to the gate and then drive everyone across the tarmac towards the plane.

The reason I do not know is that I was on the only flight into Leh to be canceled at this time of year in a very long time! Of all the places at which I was going to have my first travel disaster this was possibly the worst. Not only are the systems a shambles which makes getting information difficult, but when they are bringing a plane’s worth of large luggage into the terminal trolley by trolley and my bag is on the very last trolley; well I was not a happy boy. I have never felt such a feeling of relief when I saw my little Rangatiratanga flag poking out from underneath some dirty great suitcase. At this point I was befriended by two frantic French boys, Nicholas and Regis who had overheard me saying to the Air Decca flight staff that I had a hotel arranged. We agreed to buddy up, power in numbers and hopefully we would be put on a newly arranged flight in the morning. Of course it is the Indian way, they promise a new flight in the morning to get us out of the terminal and then tell us when we have left the building that it isn’t happening. All of the flights were booked for the next two days so the three of us desperately clung to the notion that we would be able to get there by this magical mystical non-existent new flight.

When it was confirmed that there was no such flight I rescheduled mine for three days time. Nicholas and Regis managed (amazingly) to get a refund and booked a three day bus to Leh! They then left that afternoon, yet I will still beat them there. I am very grateful to them as not only did we go for a beer and berate Sarkozy but they also paid for two beds in a room which they then didn’t sleep in. Plan B first came into being and then turned into two days in the pink city of Jaipur. I booked my train tickets, had a three person room all to myself and flights arranged to Ladakh three days later. What could possibly go wrong?


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