I am here, this is happening! It is the middle of the night and I am now in New Delhi, alone and without a plan my anxiety is overcome by my strange sense of adventure. I follow the masses through the terminal and am walking with a childlike sense of wonder that stays with me through the next 36 hours. The bathrooms have larger than life images of a gorgeous woman and a handsome man to show patrons which toilet to enter. My first instinct is to break out my camera and photograph them but I’m feeling a bit shy and decide I have time for that later and best get on with retrieving my luggage.
The administrative act of shuffling through customs and showing my tourist visa went well. This surprises me as I acquired my visa on a website with the hope that I did everything correct–apparently, I did because I am through the secured area and there’s no turning back now! As I walk through the secured area I immediately notice the lack of chaos. Come on, Delhi, where’s the crowd, the smells, the obnoxiousness I so expected? This is NOTHING like I expected…it’s peaceful and eerily quiet. Then I notice a sign that says something about this being a silent airport and that everyone must remain quiet as they retrieve their luggage, how bizarre and zen-like at the same time. What’s more shocking is that everyone is complying! Why aren’t all airports like this? It was the most relaxing way to stand around a carousel…in complete quiet. My very quiet husband would be loving this right now. No shoving, no yelling, nothing but the shuffling of bags and legs around me. How uncharacteristically civilized. I am smiling as I see my pea-green backpack emerge from the bowels of luggageville and slide onto the carousel before me, the travel Gods are on my side!
So, it’s 0200ish and I have to find my way to my hotel in hopes that they will allow me to check in and sleep. My reservations don’t begin until the following night so I am really pushing my luck. As I walk out of the deliciously quiet airport I’m accosted by rickshaw and taxi drivers–this is the Dehli I was expecting! I grabbed one and off we went to my hotel. It is dark but the city lights allow me to see out the window and within minutes I do a double take as I (no shit) see a man riding an elephant beside the highway! Are you kidding me?! Is this real? The elephant had a pink and purple “third eye” painted on him. I want to stop the taxi, jump out and photograph this but he is driving too fast and I’m not sure if what I saw was real or a hallucination from being dog-tired and jet-lagged. This is a sign, I know it.
My hotel is called Hotel Shanti Palace (http://www.hotelshantipalacewest.com/) and it is delightful. They mercifully allowed me to check in ridiculously early so I plan to shower and sleep as long as possible. I have no idea what I will do tomorrow but I am going to “shoot” something!