India! And the Curious Case of Airport Running

I started this blog for a very simple reason: for you. I wanted to share my experiences from around the world so you could get the same jewels of insight I get, without ever having to leave home.

Little did I know, my first trip overseas was going to take an entirely different path. And one that is already challenging my preconceived ideas.

This trip started months ago, in May. I had planned on going to India, to the Oneness University, for seven months. I quit my job, purged 90% of my belongings, and shaved my head. Only, I got to the airport and wasn’t allowed to get on the plane. I wrote about that little endeavor here.

After a second failed attempt to get myself overseas, I paused to take inventory of my life. What was I missing? I’m a believer in everything happens for a reason, and this was clearly happening for a reason.

After some time, and a whole lot of soul digging, I went to my favorite tarot reader for some guidance. Here’s what she told me:

  1. You’re going to India. In October. (Bread crumb #1)
  2. You need to step up to the plate. Stop letting everyone push their opinions on you because they want your reality to fit theirs. You’re here to blaze some trail. Get to it.

Little did I know that during the reading, my fabulous friend Brandi had texted me that she had found some ridiculously cheap plane tickets to India. Depart date? October 4th. Bread crumb #2.

But I had worried about the money. I hadn’t been working and, although a steal, it was still a lot of money.

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Actual picture that I received from a number I didn’t recognize. Excellent time to receive some buffalo medicine!

Later that evening, I received a picture via text from an unrecognized number. It was of a Native American coin, featuring a portrait and buffalo. What’s the spiritual meaning behind a buffalo? Assurance of abundance. In my case, I took this as a reassurance that the particular purchase in question was a wise one. And all good things come in 3s and I had received bread crumb #3.

I was all in baby.

Fast forward a handful of months, to three days ago. Brandi and I arrived at the Milwaukee airport, only to find out our flight to Chicago had been delayed by 20 minutes. Not a big deal we said, we’ll just have to hustle to our connecting flight.

What they really meant to say was that 20 minutes meant an hour and a half. We quite literally watched the airline attendant close the door to our flight as we were running up to the gate. We missed our flight. I debated whether or not this was yet another sign that my trip was destine for failure, but I knew I was too angry to see the situation clearly. So, I asked for a sign: Universe, you better make it a freaking good one, because I’m at my wits end.

A minute or so later, I get a text from my dad: “So far all the things going on today is typical airline nonsense[…]don’t push anything, go with the flow and I think it will all work out. You’re good.”

Splendid! Thank you Universe and thank you father (I’m fairly certain he doesn’t know how perfect the timing of his text was. He will now! Thanks dad!).

We hop onto the next flight out to Germany, which seemed to allot enough time to spare to catch our original connection to India. Which also meant that my checked bag wouldn’t get lost along the way.

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Not a bad gig. Feet up while watching Batman v Superman during the flight from Chicago to Germany.

Aside from a couple of crabby Germans who had a grudge against reclining chairs, the flight was uneventful. We had also been unknowingly upgraded to better seats. Perk!

Eight hours and a handful of minutes later, we are running through Germany’s airport. And when I say running, I mean we were sweaty, hot messes with 25 minutes to get to the shuttle to take us to a different terminal, get through security, and get our paperwork rechecked. And, Brandi’s carry on was particularly ominous to the security lady, since she “thought” she saw something and wouldn’t stop searching Brandi’s bag until she found it. Needless to say, there was nothing to be found and she sent us on our merry way.

We make our connection, we’re happy with our seating arrangement on the plane, and aside from a minor case of time dragging, it was borderline enjoyable.

Then the real fun began: seeing India for myself.

I had been told from a variety of people a selection of scary stories about India and Chennai.

 

#1 Chennai’s airport may scare you a little. You’re going to arrive late at night and you’re going to be dropped off in the basement.

TRUTH: While it’s true that Chennai’s international flights arrive around midnight, the airport was far from scary. It’s clean, well lit, and there is armed military casually walking around to keep you safe. I felt oddly welcoming actually. It also didn’t appear to be a basement by any means. After getting off the plane, they handed us a small slip of paper, asking for passport and destination details to make customs easier. And customs was a seamless process. Stand in line, get your stamp, move on. Doesn’t get much easier than that. It was quick too, taking all of 15 minutes.

 

#2 You’re going to be startled by the crowd of people you’re going to have to walk through to find your driver.

TRUTH: While “walking through” is a bit of a stretch, you do exit the airport onto a sort of cement red carpet kind of feel. People waiting for arrivals are not allowed entry into the airport, so they stand behind barricades. However, this means we had a very clear path to walk while looking for our driver. No crowds to walk through, and certainly no discomfort.

 

#3 The taxi ride is terrifying. Wear a blindfold.

TRUTH: This is probably the biggest thing I disagree with. It’s amazing to me how well their driving system works. I can understand how much of a shock it may be to an American to witness the controlled chaos. However, it doesn’t take much observation to realize what’s happening. Indians honk to keep other drivers aware of their position and where they intend to go. And it works. You don’t see a lot of screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-11-58-44-amturn signals used and every ounce of road space is taken up and used. But it works! And once you realize that you aren’t in danger, and everyone driving understandings the traffic code of conduct, it’s a lot of fun to witness. It’s also refreshing to see very little road rage. Certainly nothing that measures up to the road rage you see in rush hour traffic in the U.S.

 

#4 India is unsafe, dirty, and should be avoided by women

TRUTH: This one is complex. The unavoidable truth is that it’s clearly not in your best interest to be out and about at night as a foreigner. Especially as a foreign woman. However, it would be wildly unfair to say that India as a whole is unsafe. We have not felt worried about our safety during the day at any point in time. In fact, many Indian men have gone out of their way to give us tips and escort us to various locations, expecting nothing in return. The generosity and wholesome nature of the Indian people is astounding.

Another unavoidable truth: India is a developing country. Which means that everything is showing its age, there are many homeless, and yes, it’s dirty by American standards. However, and this is important, the materialistic state of India is vastly overshadowed by its liveliness. There is so much color, joy, friendless, and faith that you can’t help but feel like you’re in an entirely new, exotic world. Especially as an American, I’m continuously taken off guard by how friendly people are and how eager they are to share the hidden gems of their city. Also worth noting, hotel staff treats you like kings and queens. And you may be thinking that they do it because they know American’s have money. I assure you, every staff person I’ve tipped thus far has been nothing but humble and gracious.

 

#5 They are going to stare at you. A lot.

This one makes me giggle. I’ll go on the record saying there has been absolutely no uncomfortable staring. If I happen to make eye connect with a passerby, the reaction has always been a bright smile, Indian head nod, and hello. In my book, that’s just about the farthest thing from creepy stares that you can get.

With that being said, we have made an effort to keep our ankles and shoulders covered, as normal Indian etiquette calls for. This may be play into the lack of staring as well.


That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more India shenanigans and to hear where we’re headed next. In typical Bobbi fashion, the plan has been changed as new insights come in. I mean it when I say that my entire trip has changed and new countries have been added to the roster.

Sending you many, many exotic blessings and love from India!


Curious about things you’ve heard about India? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do some digging on your behalf.

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