I just got off the 15 hour flight to Delhi and I have to say the experience has been surprisingly good. Aside from one meal of American cheese between two pieces of bread (I dare not call it a sandwich), Air India’s food isn’t so bad. The lamb and mixed veggie dinner was actually quite good. I got a nice 3-hour nap during what I suppose is 1-4am Chicago time. Now at 6:25am, I feel refreshed.
Delhi International looks like a less pretentious version of the Beijing Capital Airport. Unlike that government showcase, there are actually people walking here. The ceilings are high, there are plenty of restaurants, and there’s enough high-end duty-free shops to give it a upper-class look.
Other than that, I’ve been spotting some interesting cultural patterns.
Everybody talks too fast
I’m a slow listener in general and I’ve been accultured to the midwest way of speaking. Coming here and listening to accented English spoken at Mach III speed creates an environment where I have to constantly ask people to repeat themselves. I didn’t hear half of what the flight attendent said to me. Getting my first meal at the airport, I had to assume the food counter guy had my interests in mind because I didn’t know whether he was mumbling or acknowledging my choices.
Veg or non-veg
I started hearing this early on the flight and it immediately set up a dichotomy between the two culinary traditions. On the plane, the non-veg dishes were western whereas the veg dishes ended up being more Indian. I got asked the same thing again at the airport. Theres enough people on both sides of the aisle for restaurants to play to both demographics.. but it’s just strange to hear “veg or non-veg” when I was expecting “fish or chicken”.
Airport employees are uber-helpful
It is not technically possible to get lost in the airport. Getting off the plane, I was asked by at least 5 different people where I was going. At first I thought they were swindlers trying to sell me a ticket to some tourist destination but then I discovered they just wanted to help. I was directed from the gate to the domestic arrivals lounge. From there to the 2nd floor transfer ticket counter. From there to the check-in counter. Then, on the way through security, a guard tied a badge to my carry-on so that they could be retrieved if lost. Too bad I’m too lazy to fill out the form on it.
I expect this trip to be a culturally enlightening experience. Expect plenty of entries and pictures.