Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm here!

It was a long, grueling trip to India: about an hour to Detroit, then 8 hours on the plane to Amsterdam. I was hoping there would be some empty seats, but the plane was pretty full. There was a Frenchman from Lyons on one side (he works for a company that manufactures parts for Chrysler & goes back & forth between France & Detroit every 2 weeks) – cute French accent. On the other side was a woman traveling to Abu Dhabi to visit her niece. The plane had Movies, Music, etc. on demand. I watched Precious and The Blind Side, but only heard about half of what was side because it was so loud where we were sitting in the plane.

Then another 8 hour flight (also full) from Amsterdam to Delhi. My teammate Jim Fischer, from Water & Waste Water Mgmt in Wisconsin, and I were on the same flights from Detroit. We got to Delhi around midnight on Friday. After going through Customs, we had to find transportation to the hotel, and finally ended up getting a Pre-Paid taxi (a booth where you tell them your destination & pay a flat rate, so you don’t get ripped off), then go to an area for the next available taxi. By the time we checked into the hotel, it was close to 2:00 AM. I hadn’t really slept on the plane, and didn’t sleep well in the hotel either, which is located right on a busy road, with lots of traffic & noise.

Today, we got a flight from Delhi to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. The weather is in the 90’s and it feels great! I knew the roads in India are very busy & crowded, but it’s still incredible to see – people, cars, bicycles, rickshaws, motorized scooters, and animals (goats & cows mostly) all in the road at once. It’s utter chaos with horns tooting all the time, but somehow it seems to work. And they drive on the wrong side of the road!

People keep talking to me in Hindi, and while I understand a little, I don’t speak it. I find myself speaking in English with an Indian accent though.

The business manager at the hotel has an aunt who runs an NGO (non-government organization) for Children & Women’s Welfare, and she has contacts with other NGOs in this area, so she will be a great resource. We will talk to her tomorrow & try to set up some appointments for next week. We are also trying to get mobiles (what they call cell phones here) & sim cards to make calls while we’re here. The phones are easy to get, but getting sim cards is quite an involved process, and everything requires our passports. Even the hotels make copies of them.

Time to get some sleep. More to come…

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