The new year began with my departure from Canada on the first of January to India’s capital. The air ride was smooth all the way to New Delhi, and I managed to watch four feature length films gate to gate including the much talked about “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “The Artist”. At Charles de Gaulle Airport, my stopover in Paris was conveniently short with long lines moving quickly to board flights to other cities in India. In-flight on this second leg of my trip, I befriended a couple of Indian ladies in queue for the loo and joked with French attendants when I could not sleep. The flight was not met with much turbulence and I managed neither to catch a cold nor virus in the weeks that followed. So far…and so good.
Touching down in New Delhi after four years, I was experiencing the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport for the first time since my last visit in April 2008; when it had already been under extensive construction till its opening in the summer of 2010. The smell of camphor was in the cool night’s air, wall-to-wall carpeting was rich in amber-colored shades of busy paisley designs, expansive walls were sparsely but effectively decorated with corporate and travel advertisements, passengers were few but airport staff was stationed. As I manoeuvered the spacious corridors at nearly midnight on the first Monday in January 2012, I passed through customs with incredible ease, later purchased bottles of Scotch from an informed salesperson at Duty Free, and waited not long at all for my baggage to arrive intact.
INDIA! At long last I was back in India! The sticky notes on my walls at home ensured that my wish to return this year, departing no less on the first of the month, an auspicious date in my sometimes superstitious mind, would actually happen. I was a happy traveler, and ignored how tired I was after such a long journey. Smoothness and order pervaded the check-in/check-out procedure here, and this was so pleasantly surprising even in this heavily guarded, terrorist-targeted country.
The world has been talking about India’s economic boom and its countrymen’s empowering pride for years now. But could this new, organized, clean, and world-class airport be its sure-fire ambassador in concrete and steel? My foot experience upon landing had been delightfully seamless. I was giddy with excitement at the prospect of a new beginning in this New Year. And my, my, I asked myself, what other pleasant surprises lay ahead for me as I adventured in my homeland….