Dec 7                         Days 9-10            Delhi

 The capital of India, and the seat of so much of India’s history. Yet, we still don’t really know the place at all. Suba’s last visit was when she was eight. Ed breezed through a couple of years ago, but never really got a feel for the place. Dylan has never been.

After a mostly-sleepless night on the train, we arrive in Delhi, and immediately get used to the price-gouging from the porters and the cab drivers. Ed likes to call this the “fairness tax,” in honour of the east/west economic disparity, and our collective complexion (Suba notwithstanding). After some interesting driving (travel tip: don’t try to use Google Maps to navigate the alleyways of Delhi) we arrive at our hotel: the Deer Parkk, where the extra “k” stands for “klassy.” We crash into bed, visit the nearby Parkk that afternoon…

India Blog Ch3_1

 

have some coconut juice…

… check out our next day’s venue, and call it a night.

In an attempt to get to know Delhi, Dylan had made all sorts of sightseeing plans. We were just about to get started when Ed rushed into our room:

“Uh, guys… got an email from Spicejet. Next week’s flight out of Kathmandu has been cancelled.”

Well, that doesn’t sound good. We do a little Googling and discover that Spicejet is heading into a tailspin. Emergency board meetings, fuel companies are refusing to fuel the planes, half the pilots walking out to find jobs elsewhere. Our pleasant sightseeing day has devolved into frantic emergency rebooking, before the other abandoned Spicejet customers get hip, book all the remaining alternate flights, and leave us stranded in Kathmandu. We find another flight on – I couldn’t make this up – Yeti Airlines. The collective adrenaline level crashes, and we celebrate with a nap, dreaming of furry monsters whisking us through the sky.

That evening is a gig at Depot29. Musician-friends, if you’re touring India, do yourself a favour and play here. It’s that rarest of finds: a club that puts the music first. Great sound, great vibe from the staff. We had a great gig here, and hope to come back soon.

The next morning, we were up and out, for our next destination: Kathmandu. Thanks for trying, Delhi: perhaps we’ll get to know each other next time.

Dec 10             Day 11      Delhi- Kathmandu

As travelling musicians, we always know that a travel day is often as tiring and potentially grueling as a gig day, so we plan accordingly. We are up, packed and checked out of our hotel in good time. We get to the airport with 2.5 hours to spare.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport is big and modern, but the incredible bureaucracy around anything beyond the ordinary check-in is extremely old-fashioned and extremely time-consuming.

Between the unusual sizes of the instruments and the overweight bags, we were charged $250. But it doesn’t end here. Enter Krishan: our “personal representative” from the airline. We had to split up:

  • Suba had to pay for the excess bags at a different kiosk, get a receipt, and then give a head-waggle to the first check-in attendant at the initial kiosk, who gives a head-waggle to Krishan, who then escorts Suba to the immigration line. Dylan is along for the ride. Now Suba and Dylan wait in the line, go through immigration to a silent officer who simply stamps our passports and waves us through. Krishan magically (and immediately) finds us again, and escorts Suba to another customs-type office. There is a man working slowly on…something. He doesn’t really look at the receipt, nor does he look at the passport. He briefly views the boarding pass and writes something in a ledger and waves (and head-waggles) Suba along. Dylan is waiting with the luggage and Krishan is accompanying him. Krishan then asks sir and ma’am if the service he’s provided has been to our satisfaction, and Suba fills out a comment card saying just that!
  • Lest we forget Ed who is asked to wait in one place with our musical instruments. Then he is asked to move somewhere else. He’s not sure why, but he acquiesces. Then he takes the bags over to the x-ray machine. The bags go through the machine and another worker guy stands there with them while Ed goes through immigration. Then Ed wants to make sure that the worker waiting with the bags is actually putting them on the plane. Once again, enter Krishan! He coolly says to not worry, sir, the bags will be taken care of. Normally we would never be comfortable leaving our musical possessions unattended for a moment, but somehow, we trust this, our new guide, Krishan.

Somehow Krishan was always at the scene though two different scenarios were happening in two different places. We are convinced that he might be an avatar or have several incarnations, as in the Hindu sense. Or perhaps, he represents the foreshadowing of the many sherpas that will follow as we make our way to Kathmandu.

Long and convoluted, that curious adventure swallowed up all our free time. We were starving and hadn’t had coffee. We went to the slowest (what’s slower than slowest? If you’re a south Indian musician, we’re talking serious meditation-state vilamba laya), coffee shop, post-security. The coffee was made and served one at a time, with many breaks in between. We ate very strange sweet croissants that were also served one at a time with breaks in between and, not terribly sated, hurried to the gate for the flight.

Our flight was uneventful and…all of our bags arrived intact! Thanks again, Krishan.

Up next…. Nepal! Himalayas, pollution, load-shedding… stay tuned!