The Road Home - Change of PlansDate: 18/11/2010
I admit that this is a bit of departure from the purpose of this blog, but the challenges I had in physically getting home seemed to be more than anything I faced in the previous five weeks of being in one of the remotest, untouched areas of India. It was almost a metaphor - things simple, straightforward, uncomplicated out in the countryside; but as soon as I get closer to urbanization, complications abound. The last post had me stranded at Baghdogra airport, close to Darjeeling and the foothills of the Himalaya. There I was, aghast at the news that, after all my trouble to get to the airport, my flight was cancelled. If you haven't gathered by now, I'll tell you straight out: when I have a goal, I'm not easily dissuaded. And my goal was to get home. My options were slim: with my ride gone, no cell phone, no cash (I had been spending my rupees so that I wouldn't have any leftover), no way of getting cash (the same political movement that had shut the road and the flights had also closed the banks), no bus transport, no train transport, no car transport, and no clue about how I would stay the night or two needed for the political scourge to end, I knew had to get out of Baghdogra. Can I tell you how thankful I was to find there was one, and only one, flight leaving from Baghdogra? The last flight into or out of Baghdogra. It was flying to Delhi, not Kolkata where I was supposed to be connecting, but I would sort that out later. Priority: get out of Baghdogra and to a location that had cash machines, phones, and a greater preponderance of people who speak English. After an hour and a half of negotiating with the airlines, mission accomplished. One step closer to home. I arrived in Delhi at 4:30 pm, and, after a several hours spent hunting for terminals and ticketing agents, after sorting out change of flights, and getting cash, after drinking my first cup of real coffee and eating (OMG) a real donut(!!!), departed Delhi at 2 am bound for the US of A connecting through Frankfurt. Woo and hoo. I was giddy with relief and latte and food. Civilization. Bathrooms with toilet paper. Air conditioning. Electricity. It was all too much, and I walked around with a silly grin on my face as if I had just won the lottery. In a way, I did. I was going home, when just a half day earlier it seemed a distant possibility.