After some time, I got tired of waiting for my ride, and called DN again, to ask about the situation. He was as confused as I was, and continuing to call him (as he was still long distance at this point) was becoming expensive. So I took matters into my own hands. No need to stress either of us out. I exchanged more money. The man working the exchange booth was very nice. He asked me about my plans in Hyderabad and wished me a safe journey. I went down to the lower area of the airport. By this time, my arm was pretty much going numb from the weight of my luggage. When I reached the lower level, I passed a few police officers, and then was swarmed by taxi drivers. Haha… 😀
I politely declined all of them, as I was interested in the original plan: meeting with my step-dad’s business partner. I passed another McDonald’s, on the lower level of the airport. I stood there, plotting for a few moments when two little girls approached me. They were smiling so big! The oldest had short dark hair, and was wearing a pretty green dress. The youngest was wearing pink. They seemed so genuinely excited. It was so sweet. ^_^ They said, “Are you from America?” I said yes. They giggled and ran back to their mom, who was sitting on the bench with Ronald McDonald. 😀
When they returned, the older girl asked me, “Can you speak Hindi?” I smiled and said, “Only a little.” They giggled and ran off again. Another little girl came by. She looked only a little older than my own niece, and wore a dark red dress. She stared in wonder. When I smiled at her, she smiled back and bounced away.
I decided it was time to get something done. I went into a lounge to see if I could charge my phone. As I stepped inside, everything looked super fancy. I thought for sure, they’d give me hell for leeching their power supply. The woman behind the counter was busy bossing around two men, so I had a look at their signs while I waited. They offered a lounge area while you waited between flights, a room to nap in while you waited, a bar and internet access. AHA!
When the woman was finished barking orders at the two men, I asked her to use the internet. She led me behind the counter and down the hall to a room of cubicles. Nice cubicles, but cubicles none the less. Not your typical grey cubicles either. The walls were black, trimmed with stained wood, and higher up, the walls became frosted glass. She instructed me to pay when I was finished. I immediately got in contact with my mom, DN, and my step-dad all at once. We orchestrated a plan with my step-dad’s business partner, and before I knew it, someone was finally there to pick me up. Sir Teja to the rescue! When I left the room, Teja was waiting for me. He was very soft-spoken and kind. He introduced himself and told me he was here to pick me up. Success! I paid the woman and we left.
I guess I assumed he drove to the airport, because when he started making deals with taxi drivers I was suddenly confused. He must have seen my reaction, because he looked at me, bobbled his head and said, “We have to take the taxi…” I don’t know what he was thinking, but he seemed nervous to tell me that. I said, “Okay… Let’s go.” He led the way and I followed him. The sun had been up for awhile, but this was the first chance I had to enjoy it. The trees were lovely too, and the grass was nice and green. It was so refreshing, especially since winter in the U.S. kills all the plant life.
When we got to the taxi, Teja put my bag in the trunk and I climbed in. He rode passenger, which, as you may or may not know, is on the left side of the car. As the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car. That’s right. India is a country that drives on the left side of the road! 🙂 So, out of habit, when I got in the car, I began to put my seatbelt on. The cab driver looked at me, seeming very confused, and said, “No. No… I think… No.” and waved his hand rapidly. UM. Oh. I suddenly felt very nervous. Oh boy. The day I don’t wear a seatbelt… I reluctantly let the seatbelt retract.
He started our journey, and I thought I would feel a little strange about being on the left side of the road, but it was quite natural. The first thing I noticed though, was the honking. I thought, ‘Why is this guy honking so much?’
As we drove on, it all made sense.
In the distance, I could see grungy pink and blue buildings. The scene actually reminded me of the grungy part of Kansas City. The only difference was the colors of the buildings and the close hung up to dry, located everywhere. We passed giant colorful billboards, and trees with tons of torn kites entangled in the leaves. We soon entered a rural sort of area, with many cows, and small children playing. Roads became more congested. Let me explain Indian traffic to you. At least, what I have seen so far.
Anywhere we go, that’s not home, is going to have different driving rules and courtesies, etc. In India, the traffic looks like chaos, but surprisingly I noticed there was a sort of system to it, right away. So here we are, in traffic, dodging motorcycles and other cars. Just like at home, you mind your own business and be mindful of other drivers around you. If someone is going too slow, you go around them. Same concept here, except a little more intense. Drivers here, from my experiences so far, weave in and out of traffic. They go their own pace, pass anyone slower, dodge pedestrians, avoid cows and dogs, and there are no stop signs, so they cross roads when they feel they have a safe chance of making it to the other side. Remember how I mentioned the honking? Here’s why: It’s their way of signaling each other, and this is a big part of their driving system and how they stay safe.
They honk when they are approaching another car, passing another car, approaching pedestrians, attempting to cross roads, alerting another driver that they are going too slow, and probably many more. Now, we honk in America, but unless we are really angry or there is something seriously wrong, we don’t honk at each other. At least in my part of town. 😉 So it’s new to me, but I’ve already figured out (for the most part) how it plays a key role in driving and staying safe on the roads here.
We arrived at the hotel, Teja helped me with my bags and we went inside. The men at the door were dressed in a black, formal hotel uniform, smiling and saying “Good morning ma’am.” I smiled and said good morning as well. We got to the desk to begin the check out process, when one of the hotel men came and collected my bags for me. Wow. What a relief. I gave the woman at the desk my passport, answered a few questions, and then waited for the rest of the check-in process to be completed.
While I waited, I looked around. It was beautiful. It was a big circular room, with a circular dining area in the middle. The tables and chairs were really nice. Above the main dining area, were wooden spiral chandeliers.
As I was looking around, a man came over with my bags and offered to take me to my room. I looked at Teja for confirmation. He said, “You go to your room, I’ll just finish this and see you there.” I smiled and off to the room I went. The small man leading me, was wearing an off-white uniform, and looked excited to be in the same elevator as me. He pushed the button to the second floor, and when the doors closed he asked me a few questions. “Where are you from?” “What will you see in Hyderabad?”
I answered his questions and then, as I saw the main dining area from above, I commented on how beautiful the hotel was. He beamed with pride. He became so excited, it was soon impossible to understand him. He was listing off the benefits of the hotel, and that’s pretty much all I got out of that.
When we got to my room, he set my bags down, instructed me on how to use the phone and began to leave. Before he left, he said, “Enjoy your stay! Bye!” He was so excited, so I smiled and waved goodbye. When the door shut and I was finally alone in my own space, I jumped up and down, danced and laughed. I’m in India! I’m in INDIA! I crossed the entire world! What a huge accomplishment!
As I celebrated, I heard a knock at the door. I let Teja in. He told me everything was taken care of, and that tomorrow I needed to check out at 6 AM, and be waiting for him at 6:30 AM. No problem. I couldn’t stop smiling, because I was so grateful for his help. I thanked him, shook his hand, and he left.
I let out a sigh of relief. After such a long journey, I get the opportunity to unwind a little.
I put my purse down on the bed, took my shoes off, and looked around. It was a nice room. I’m not sure what the texture of the floor was, but it was made to look like wood. The bathroom had a western style toilet, but eastern elements, and over all was pretty big and really clean. I was impressed. I made my way to the window and proceeded to draw the curtains. The sunshine felt so good on my skin… I took in the environment. What a lovely view. Even the abandoned building in the distance, was beautiful in its way. I sighed. I made it.
Well, that concludes Part III, the third and final installment of my story of my journey to India.
Next up: The Train Adventures!