After months of planning and anticipation, we finally arrived in Anand the evening of July 1, 2008. We flew through Delhi, which is where our introduction to India officially began. We got off the plane and found our way to immigration without too much trouble. We then entered the immigration "line," which was actually more of a cluster. The next thirty minutes involved constant jockeying for position as we slowly inched our way to the front. The thirty minutes is only an estimate, as the world clocks on the far wall all indicated the wrong times. We eventually made it through immigration. Looks like we won't be starring in the sequel of Brokedown Palace. Bummer. Next stop- baggage claim.
***Disclaimer: Baggage Claim in Delhi is not for the impatient***
I kept imagining us as one of the couples on amazing race, frantically waiting and waiting for our bags. B's head would have exploded! Luckily all of our bags finally made it to the luggage belt. We breezed through customs with all of our drugs and contraband and tried to find signs for the interterminal tram to get to our connecting flight to Vadodara. Hmmm...I guess we didn't realize that the airport was undergoing "renovations" and that tram wasn't quite built yet (or conceived of, perhaps). We finally were able to find our way to the "interterminal lounge." Picture a Jiffy Lube waiting room with a statue of Ganesha, and you have a good picture of this place. We had some time to kill before the next bus to the domestic terminal, so T went to find the ladies room. Picture a Jiffy Lube bathroom with a dirty diaper in the only toilet stall and women eating on the floor, and you have a good picture of this place. The bus finally arrived and took us on a leisurely thirty minute ride/scenic route to the domestic terminal where we caught our connecting flight.
Side note: I think Bob Barker might have taken up a post-retirement gig as the head talent scout for Jet Airways flight attendants. They all looked like Bollywood actresses - much hotter than Barker's Beauties.
We arrived in Vadodara to find Mr. Uday waiting to take us to our hotel in Anand. It was nice not to worry about finding transportation to the hotel. This is just one example of the many things Dr. Patel has done to make things easier for us during our visit. Mr. Uday helped us check into La Casa Inn and had the staff first show us the different room options so we could make an informed decision about what level room to select. This helped us save $13 a night. Thanks, Mr. Uday!
Our room at La Casa was a pleasant surprise. It has most of the amenities that American travelers are accustomed to. The air conditioning works very well; the TV has a lot of channels, including HBO and Stars, which plays shows like Seinfeld and Friends; and the bathroom has Western-style facilities.
The hotel staff has been extremely friendly and helpful. T believes that they would build a spaceship for us if we asked them to. The hotel restaurant, which is vegetarian, is also very good. They serve many different cuisines including Indian, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese and Thai. Our room rate also comes with a free American-style breakfast.
We have been here for three days now and are growing accustomed to our new surroundings. We're still finding ourselves staring at the cows, camels and donkeys roaming the streets, but maybe after two weeks of being here even that will seem normal to us.