After spending around a day and a half in either an airport or a plane, my family and I finally made it to India. So here are some thoughts from the air!
Leg 1 - Denver to Seattle
Leaving home is always pretty hard but the flight was a treat. DIA is one of my favorite airports by far, maybe that’s just cause it is home base but it just is objectively really nice. Anyway, at 7 am security was a breeze, and after a breakfast sandwich we were boarding and heading for Seattle. Alaska Airlines had free WiFi for texting which was rad, good on you Alaska, good on you. I got to settle in, listen to a podcast, and watch the snow-covered American west go by beneath us. It was gorgeous, the mountains that I was so used to, I-25, Lake Yellowstone, it was a helluva way to bid goodbye to home and I can’t wait to see it again heading home.
Leg 2 - Seattle to Dubai
After a short layover in Seattle where I chugged a mocha and watched an episode of The Grand Tour (shout out to Prime Student), it was time to settle for a long 14-hour flight. It was really long. That sounds dumb but I mean, that’s what it was. We took off in the middle of a snowstorm on Christmas Eve where I was rather bitter about missing a white Christmas and began a long haul over the Arctic towards Dubai.
Unfortunately, I am no Casey Neistat so it was economy class, which to be fair wasn’t all that bad, it was just 14 hours. Did I mention that it was long? The food was pretty good since it was an actual meal, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 kinda sucked, and sleeping was interesting but the hours passed by as we looked over small Eastern European towns waking up on Christmas morning, the roads snaking through the snowy land. At this point, thoroughly missing the festivities, I fell asleep again and woke up over the sand dunes of the Arabian Peninsula. Kicking myself for not having a camera, I gazed down as the sun set on the dunes casting an orange glow that reflected off the wings into the cabin.
After the sunset there was just darkness, we were traveling over a place where civilization didn’t reach its hand. As we kept moving forward a glow appeared on the horizon and the plane banked towards it. The desert sea began to be dotted with soft orange lights as roads materialized from the sands. We could see the clouds of a sandstorm envelope parts of the road as nature tried to reassert some dominance, but the darkness faded away to be completely overcome by the lights of Dubai. The urban sprawl was reaching out of the dark to welcome us and we gladly accepted, 14 hours was enough.
Leg 3 - Dubai to Kolkata
The Dubai International Airport is huge. Massive ceilings, huge glass bugles looking over the desert, and all served by three airlines. The hub for Emirates is the 3rd busiest passenger airport in the world, and its no wonder. When Emirates claim they are connecting the world through Dubai, they aren’t kidding. The main concourse between A and B gates is like a massive mall of luxury brands, fine alcohol, and refrigerators of caviar. Dubai has wealth, there is no denying that, but what was more interesting were the people from all across the world. From the local Emirati to travelers speaking languages from all corners of the globe, everyone it seems was centered right here.
A 7-hour layover later, we boarded our final flight heading towards Kolkata. It was a 2 am flight which was a little weird, but at this point after hopping through so many different time zones, sleep was an afterthought. This flight was one of eager anticipation as I could finally get out of a plane or an airport, and that sounded pretty damn good. As we flew over India we broke into daylight and was able to look down towards the ground, or at least the haze. Pollution is more of a problem here than it is in Colorado or anywhere in the States, but that’s what happens when the population of the country is as big as it is. But descending into the haze was a relief as it meant we had finally arrived.
After baggage claim, we made our way out of the airport and into the city. We were greeted by my Aunt and Uncle and the driver that would get us back to their house. Getting there was a rollercoaster ride and so much different from the mundane drive it is at home. It was a sensory overload of the sounds and smells of a city with 4.6 million people. Traffic rules seemed to be more of a suggestion than law as a two-lane street became a six-lane where cars would be a few inches away from each other and bikers would wedge themselves in where they could find space. But when the traffic light goes green, the driver would thread his way through the city, shifting his SUV as if he was driving a Formula 1 car and fitting it through places I’d hesitate to ride my bike.
When we pulled into the driveway I feel like the high-speed ride had already acclimated me to the city. It’s been four years since I’ve been to the country and after this, I have no idea when I’ll be back. We unloaded all of our bags, carried them up the stairs, greeted the family, and then I went to bed at noon. Jet-lag amirite.