Instagram feed

17 November 2013

Departure: Germany to India

"The plane smells like years of sweat and curry"

My trip started off hectic and stressful. This was partly my fault for deciding to make it both a work day and a travel day: Since my flight left at 9:30pm, I figured I'd have plenty of time to work for at least half a day and still make it (from Düsseldorf) to the airport (in Frankfurt) with time to spare.

Haha, nope!

My first mistake was leaving my final packing to the morning of my flights. But in my defense, there were plenty of activities each night of the week that I couldn't exactly miss - including a work-hosted "academy" about India the night before my flight! So, I left a lot of my preparation to the last minute.

[Travel tip: It's great to be spontaneous and un-planned, but if you do have something set in your schedule, like a flight, prepare for it as far ahead of time as you can!]

So, Friday came around, and I had to (1) finish packing my luggage, (2) deal with a busy day of work tying everything up before my departure, and (3) catch my 3-hour train ride to Frankfurt airport. Well, the train ride was scheduled to be 3 hours long. What actually happened was...

The ironic thing about Germany, a country renowned for its efficiency and punctuality, is that THE TRAINS ARE ALWAYS DELAYED. So, it was no surprise when I arrived at the Hauptbahnhof and found my train was 15 minutes delayed. Eventually it came before I froze my fingers off. However, the delays naturally stacked up on each other, and soon it was a 30-minute delay. This would be no problem if it was a direct train, but noooo, I had to save €20 and buy the train ticket with a transfer in Mainz.

Of course I missed my connecting train. And I missed the subsequent train. The next train to the airport was a (slower) S-Bahn, which would only come after another 25 minutes. With the slower train, I had now lost almost 1.5 hours. I was cutting it close - I arrived at the airport only 1 hour before my departure time. Luckily my friends (especially Swag) were able to text me and help me figure out my way so that I wouldn't waste any more time.

So I made it through Frankfurt airport, which is huge but not ultra-modern. Security was really quick; I was the only person, and so was the exit passport control. "Sie wohnen hier?" she asked me, and I didn't even get the usual exit stamp.

I made it onto the plane, and my seat was near the front and by a window. Winning. It did not smell good though - in addition to the usual "recycled air" of the airplane, it smelled (at the risk of sounding offensive) Indian. Like sweat and curry baked into the seats and walls of the plane through year of dusty, musky heat and sun.

But it didn't matter. The plane took off and I was on my way! It was a surprisingly quiet flight - no babies crying, and many people were asleep 10 minutes after takeoff!

I managed to get some sleep on the flight, and I listened to the music offered, which was "modern (Indian) melodies" and which got me prepared for arrival. The windows were weirdly dimmed on the plane, so even though the sun was shining through, it looked more like the moon.

The plane wafted down into a sea of haze (fog or smog - I couldn't tell). Everything below was brown - I could make out crowded little (ancient-lookin) settlements and high-rise apartment towers between patches of open space. Welcome to India!

The plane doors opened, and I stepped out. It smelled. Dusty. Not necessarily stinky, but just un-fresh. I was one of the first off the plane, and completely by myself going through immigration. And because I was one of the last to check my luggage, my bag was one of the first off the belt. YES.

No comments:

Post a Comment