Eighty degree Fahrenheit. Within a day. And now since we all know, thanks to my post, that equates to approximately 26 degrees Celsius, we can get along further in the post.
This temperature range was between Kolkata and Minneapolis. We left Kolkata last Friday, where it was an extremely comfortable 70 degree F and landed in frigid Minneapolis on Saturday, where that same night the mercury plunged to -10 deg F, without windchill. A nice stinging welcome.
We were in India from the 2nd weekend of January, for 2 weeks. Two very fulfilling, noisy, satisfying and hectic weeks.
Some anecdotes and general observations from our trip:
# Our inter-continental flight was through Lufthansa, but Minneapolis-Chicago was through United. United charged us second-baggage-fee of $35 each, for both of our second baggage! Which was incredible as Lufthansa allows 2 baggage for each individual and the tickets were booked through Lufthansa, who should have had some arrangement with United for international passengers. Brilliant start.
# The flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was probably the worst flight I’ve ever had
i. No personal entertainment center (small screen) for each passenger. There were 2 CRT (!!) monitors, one in each aisle and people had to crane their neck to see what was going on, which didn’t amount to much as the screens were so old that the colours were all distorted. 7 and half hours of drudgery.
ii. The air conditioning was extremely feeble, bordering on malfunctioning, at least in the section we were sitting. At various points, we were actually sweating! It took 3 complaints from me, to 3 different stewardesses, to finally have a modicum of comfortability in our seats.
# Vivian got lost! For about half an hour. She did not have a cell phone on her and was with a 10-year old child – but to her credit she didn’t panic. She knew her knight in shining armour (me) would soon come looking for her. What really happened was: A group of us went to Botanical Garden – a huge park – in Howrah, close to Kolkata. Inside the Garden premises, Star, my 10-year old cousin, wanted to have a ride on a cycle-rickshaw. So we put Vivian and her on one and told the driver to meet us at the “gate”. The rest of us then took another route back. As it turned out, there were 2 gates. We arrived at the main gate, but the cycle-rickshaw had taken them to the other gate and dropped them outside the Garden premises. Since neither Vivian nor Star speaks Bangla, they couldn’t converse with the driver and they didn’t have their tickets on them to re-enter the Garden. Initially we waited for the cycle-rickshaw to come by but then realized the predicament with 2 gates and I took the shuttle to the other gate. Everyone safe.
# Kolkata and Mumbai airport sucked. Big time. My gauge of judging an airport is based on a simple criterion: how restrooms are maintained. Bangalore airport, on the other hand, was snazzy.
# My love for fish rages on unabated. Eating them, that is. [Caution: The links for the fishes may contain graphic images. Do NOT click them if you don’t like the concept of eating fish] Let’s see, at one single sitting, I had eelish, pabda, parshe and tangra.
# A 100 rupees ($2.25 apprx.) can still take you places – literally and figuratively – in Kolkata. Not so much the case in Mumbai and Bangalore.
# The Immigration and Customs, both while flying in to India and flying back to the US, were extremely smooth, bordering on the unreal. Is this a trend that’s catching on or were we just plain lucky, until the law of averages catches up with us next time?