4.24.2010

The Delhi Trip That Almost Wasn't...

No more than five minutes after I pressed 'publish post' last Saturday, (at almost 10 pm), I received an e-mail from my girlfriend in Turkmenistan saying that she wasn't sure if she was going to be able to fly out... as her flight originated from London, and the volcanic ash had closed down the airports. Her expediter told her that she wouldn't know until she got to the airport, and if she couldn't fly that day, chances were the trip was going to be canceled. She said she'd e-mail me as soon as she knew, and we'd just go from there.

I called Matt and cried. I sent an e-mail to the folks in Delhi letting them know that there was a chance I may have to cancel everything. I didn't sleep more than a few winks that night. I was supposed to leave for the airport in just six hours, yet I didn't want to fly up to Delhi for the week by myself if they weren't going to make it. I was seeing stars as I had just made all the arrangements to pre-pay the hotel room for the week, I had the car reserved, and I had the train tickets to Agra.

I checked my iPhone all night, waiting for an e-mail letting me know either way.... which I got at 3:25 am, saying the flight was on and they were leaving. Woo hoo! So we rushed... we got ourselves dressed and ready and we were in the car by 4:15 am. The girls were beyond excited... and overtired... which led to Sheridan needing to use one of our handy dandy vomit bags mere minutes before we got to the airport. Ah... the sweet sounds of a Perlman family vacation!

We met up with our friends at the airport in Delhi and after a few phone calls and wandering the baggage claim area, we finally found our driver. He took us to our dumpy little hotel, where lo and behold, they had no record of our reservation (so much for all my worrying!) After an hour of waiting, heated discussions, and phone calls between the Embassy's travel department, we finally got our rooms. They were absolutely nothing to write home about... small, smelly, and old. And cheap by Delhi standards... though we got what we paid for.

The trip to Delhi was a much anticipated escape for both of our families. We all longed for the familiarity of friends, good American fare, a chance to shop, relative conveniences, and a week of relaxation. I'd say we got that and more. Every day we went to a different market, different mall, different area of town. We bargained at the outdoor markets on everything from jewelry and shoes, to skirts, dresses, ottoman covers, and spices. We saw the movie, 'How to Tame Your Dragon', we got Mehindi, we celebrated my friend's twin daughters' 7th birthday, we had dinner with another set of friends from Israel, we went to the Embassy swimming pool several times, ate lunch at the outdoor cafe and shopped in the Commissary (which is like shopping in a small Safeway and made me sad that we don't have that type of food available to us ... though that's an entirely different post for another time).

We had our fair share of frustrations as well, and my friend got a great opportunity to see what life is like in India. The weather was pretty darn hot, with temperatures averaging 107 degrees. We sweated through absolutely everything we wore, every...single...day. We went on a few wild goose chases due to our driver's limited English, one of which had us driving around for almost two hours in search of a grocery store, which we never did find. The head bob with no definitive answers, the hawkers, the begging, the photographs, and the constant touching of the kids also got to us, and my friend got to see what two years of this has done to me ... nicknaming my alter ego as "angry Jill". The name was apropos.

But the highlight of the trip for me was the journey to Agra and the Taj Mahal. As you all remember, I didn't get to see much of it last time as I spent the majority of the time reliving the previous day's dinner. We took a 6:15 am express train, and managed to make it to Agra in less than two hours. We hired a car for the day (non air conditioned I must add) and with the temperatures already starting to rise, we went straight to the Taj Mahal. We spent about two hours walking around, taking pictures, dodging the people and their grabby hands. After going into the white domed marble mausoleum (which I did NOT get to do the last time I was there), we snapped a few more photos, and were on our way. By 11:30 am the temperatures were nearing 114, and we needed to get inside. As our return train was not until 7 pm, we now had about seven hours to kill. So we went to the Oberoi Amarvillas and had a totally overpriced lunch. Our driver then took us to a few shops ... where we looked at carpets, textiles, and jewelry. We then made our way to the Agra Fort, where we were again accosted by the tourists, and listened to the girls whine and moan about the heat for another thirty minutes. Oh. the. joys. Just before heading back to the train station, we stopped for a quick ice cream and air conditioning break. The train ride back was somewhat uneventful... though it WAS an hour late, it was hotter than heck outside, and the kids all fell asleep on the train, which made it difficult to get everyone off when we finally did make it back to Delhi.

Despite the little bickering that went on with the kids, the never ending smell and sweat, the horrible driver, the dirty hotel, the ridiculous internet service, and the travel warnings, we were so glad that it all worked out. What a great way to end our travels in India... it was a lot of fun and a trip I hope the girls always remember...





Getting on the plane ...




Melica and the girls as we boarded the train to Agra.




The Taj Mahal ... and the girls posing for one of their many photo ops




Yes! I DID finally get a photo in front of the Taj...




Happy Happy Happy at the Agra Fort




Carpet and Marble shopping in Agra




10 comments:

FS, here we come! said...

I'm glad your trip all worked out after all. It looks like everybody had fun being together. I love the jumping photos!

DelhiBound said...

So glad you got to come ... and that we could meet - even briefly - !!

The jumping photos are darling ... and I'm glad the Taj train worked out ...

Were you able to stock up on fabrics and such?

Danielle said...

So glad it worked out! The pictures are fantastic! What great memories!!

Daniela Swider said...

Yey, for you! You made it back with no major incidents and were able to take some awesome pictures!

Robin said...

So glad you finally made it - and your friends did too. There's nothing better than spending time with old friends and letting the days in between just slip away.

And on a more prosaic note, I can't believe you were walking around with your hair down in that heat! If I wasn't able to put it up on days like that I'd have shaved it off long ago for sure!

Mom24 said...

So glad you got to go! I can't imagine that heat--it must be overwhelming.

Glad for the good memories. I cannot believe your vomiting histories--crazy!

PorshaCoghlan梁子珠 said...

Nice Post~!!!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Shannon said...

I can't believe you had a post about travel without barfing! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I am glad your friends made it through in spite of the volcano.

I have a question, a while back when you were in the states bout a year ago and putting together your consumables shipment you mentioned that you vacuum packed your flour. Why? Putting together my first consumables shipment and am wondering if it is worth the effort. Thanks!

A Daring Adventure said...

YAY! Loved the pictures!

Okay, loved the pictures so much can't tell you! Loved the one of you and the girls leaping off the steps... love the DARLING matching embroidered shirts and skirts the girls are wearing! LOVED the one in front of the Taj Mahal - loved them!

When I read your first few lines, about how your friend's flight almost didn't make it - my heart just sank for you! I'm so, so glad you guys got to take this trip.

One more week down!!

melissa said...

I'm so glad you made it! Delhi is a fun city. I could move into FabIndia :-)

Your Taj trip sounds perfect! We got the the Taj after a 7 hour train ride from Delhi and we were told it was CLOSED because the prime minister of Portugal was there. I thought my husband's head was going to explode! We'd come all the way there! But we were able to get in eventually!

LOVE your Taj pictures!!

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