On May 29th at 8:30 PM New Delhi time, after 24 hours of flying, Kristin and I arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. As we stepped out of the airport, we were greeted by a wave of heat. It was unlike any heat I’ve ever experienced before, even in the Negev.
The air was thick, and it took me a few breaths before getting used to it. I couldn’t take one step without bumping into someone, or without getting slammed into by a taxi. Horns sounded endlessly from every direction. Needless to say, my first moments in India were very overwhelming.
Soon after, our guide arrived with our taxi and we quickly hopped in. About an hour and a half later, we arrived at our hotel in Delhi. During our drive, though it was pitch black out, we could see people laying on the ground, separated by less than a foot of pavement. As we pulled up to the hotel, we had another eye-opening experience. Guards stopped our taxi before letting us into the driveway; they checked the trunk, the hood of the car and the glove box for explosives. And then even before letting us into the hotel, our luggage was sent through a metal detector, and then we were.
We were told after that in Mumbai in 2011, a public hotel was bombed. After hearing that, I don’t know if it made me feel better that our hotel was taking the necessary precautions, or if it made me feel more anxious that those precautions were necessary because of the likelihood of such events.
During our second night in the hotel, a monsoon-like storm turned off all the electricity in the hotel. Strong winds and rain crashed into our window, and we could see trash, and even a balloon, swirling around in the sky. It was terrifying and I only thought the worst. But the next night, even in the absence of a storm, the electricity shut off multiple times. We were told that this was just a regular occurrence because of the extreme heat.