Sunday, July 15, 2012

Take Three: Prelude to an Adventure

Technically I began this post on a note-taking app on my iPad yesterday, but I'm now unsure if I can even get that draft onto my laptop. Whatevs...

I know that I got to Hyderabad at 1:30am on Sunday. I know that I left Nashville at 8:30am on Friday. However, I don't know what happened to all the time in between. I spent at least 20hrs on a plane, but time zones confuse me.
Embarking on my adventure was hectic to say the least. I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday on the phone to Expedia, Air India, United, and Humana. A tip to my fellow travelers: Do not ever book through Expedia. They make an already fairly confusing process even more stressful. They also failed to give me all of the confirmations numbers I needed, and if you've even flown before you'll know how important confirmation numbers are.
I got to see all of my friends for a final goodbye before I left, and on Thursday my dear Keli drove up from Chattanooga to spend the day with me, even though she'd just gotten back from Guatemala not even 24hrs before! She spent most of the day playing on her phone while I was making all of my calls and watching me pack, but we still got a chance to catch up. Even though I'll miss all of my friends a ton, I'll probably feel Keli's absence the most just because we see/txt each other everyday, even if we're not at Maryville.
After she left I discovered that my brother had taken my iPod and deleted it's entire memory, which was a huge blow. I've had that Ipod since I was a sophomore in high school and its memory has been full for over a year, so I had all of my core music on it. I'm moving past it, but it was difficult and a real shame because it made me leave Nashville with a bitter taste in my mouth.
Speaking of leaving Nashville... I left at 8:30 on Friday morning and nearly missed my flight. Once I got to Chicago and was checking in with Air India I was informed that the woman at the United counter in Nashville didn't give me the correct receipt, which was required in order to send all my bags to India. So I had to go to terminal 1 (I was in terminal 5) to talk to the pre-security United counter. I got to talk to someone pretty immediately but waited around for a long time. While waiting, I was surrounded by adorable foreign babies, therefore sealing my fate that I'm meant to bring a baby back to America with me.
I was finally given the right receipt and was allowed to successfully make it through international security. I was really hungry so I paid $22 for a sandwich, OJ, Sour Patch, and Rasinettes at a Hudson News Stand. I finally sat down and discovered that you had to pay for wifi, which I firmly believe is a constitutional violation. Almost in tears, I ate my sandwich and made good ole fashioned phone calls until I had to board.
The flight was virtually uneventful. I watched The Prestige, which was pretty good, and tried to doze, since I can't sleep on planes. I was excited to get to the Frankfurt airport for our layover so I could grab my last Western meal and hopefully get some wifi, but obviously that didn't go as planned either.
According to Germany, its a security violation if passengers get off the plane and then reboard, even though they had been though security from wherever they took off AND if they ended up leaving the airport they'd have to go through security again anyways... I was already not overly fond of the Frankfurt airport due to my experience with it this past January, when my MC group and I had to transfer planes there on our way back from Dublin. I thought it was completely inefficient and housed embarrassingly inept technology, so this experience did nothing to improve upon my first impression of it.
Frankfurt airport: I will live a very happy life if I never have to land on your premises again. Good day to you. Good day!
I dozed/slept the whole way to Delhi. I had to transfer planes in Delhi but was faced with a 3hr layover beforehand. I was ssooo tired and not super comfortable falling asleep on a bench with so many foreign men around, so I paid $23 to rent a Sleep Pod for 2hr. It was awesome. I didn't take a picture, but it was just a small little room with a bed, desk, chair, and tv in the middle of the airport!
My personal sleeping area
I watched Moulin Rouge on the flight to Hyderabad and got through baggage claim and customs super successfully. I didn't immediately see anyone with a "University of Hyderabad" sign when I first got out, but the man holding it actually found me. He took my luggage cart and we left, and it wasn't until we were actually at his car that I thought, "Harper, what proof do you have that this guy is actually from the university? He didn't show you an ID, he just had a sign. What if you're kidnapped and sold into slavery? You better think of a plan!!"

Tagore International House
I threw caution to the wind and continued to get into the car. That is what over 20hrs on a plane will do to a person; accept your immediate and ultimate demise into the sex trade industry. Forty minutes later I was safely on the campus of the University of Hyderabad (although part of me wasn't convinced that's where we were actually going until I saw the gates). When we arrived at Tagore International House I was handed off to another, very unfriendly, Indian man and then shown to my room and left alone. Completely and utterly alone. 

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