First time arrival experiences.

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#1 Jun 23rd, 2003, 17:20
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  • steven_ber is offline
#1
My first arrival in India was at Chennai.

Nothing bad happened, I wasn’t scammed or treat bad, but the experience is something I will never forget, I had been told it would be difficult and had pre-booked a hotel (though no pick-up).

We were first off the plane and with only hand luggage first through all the checks/customs, standing in the main airport building (air-con I think) I was saying to my friend “this is easier than I thought it would be, lets go outside and find the pre-paid taxi kiosk”.

We then confidently marched outside and froze and ran back into the airport building.

The best way to explain the chaos outside would be as follows.

Imagine Michael Jackson arriving at an airport with thousands of screaming fans being held back by ropes, all shouting things, all trying to touch him, add to that the heat, humidity, smell, and the fact that it was about 3 in the morning, that’s what was outside.

All our plans were a waste of time, it seemed impossible to think straight, we waited for a group to leave the airport building and got in the middle of them, we found a place to sit and spent the next 10 minutes or so saying “no thank you” to everybody offering taxi’s, rickshaws and hotels.

We were then mostly left alone and sat for maybe 30 minutes more without saying a word, just looking round, trying to take it all in and remember what we were supposed to do next.

We eventually got up, arranged a pre-paid taxi to the hotel and said goodbye to Chennai airport.

This experience, combined with everything else that India throws at first timers, left me in a daze for the first 48 hours, a daze that sadly, will never be experience again.
#2 Jun 23rd, 2003, 18:36
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  • LaContessa is offline
#2
That was a fabulous first impression Steven, a bit like mine.

Flew into Bombay airport at about 5am, everything was fine whilst we went through immigration and passport control and picking up the bags, ok it was different and warm and busy but it was fine.

Walked outside (it was still dark), but it was noisy, swarming with people, smelly, there were kids chucking stones at dogs, Rickshaw drivers chucking stones at kids and beggers and it was very very hot.

Like you I was frozen to the spot in shock and fear. I just stood there and said to my travel companion; "what the f*** have I done? I don't know what I'm doing here and I don't know where I am going".

We sat down and had a cigarette, then decided to hop on the nearest bus to take us into the town, so we could find the Victoria Terminus. That bus ride took about an hour in which time the sun came up, and the images from that ride will stay with me for the rest of my life. I won't bother to describe as you will all know the type of images I am referring to.

I then cried and wanted to go home....

Needless to say I didn't. And needless to say I eventually enjoyed myself.
It seemed like a good thing to do at the time.......
#3 Jun 23rd, 2003, 20:18
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  • pquekel is offline
#3
Chennai Airport it was for me too, July 2000, travelling alone. Flight from London with BA. Men's room with strong desinfectans smell, tons of white kamfer like balls in the toilets (a relief to pee , waiting for customs I believe). Changing dollars (no € yet) into my first rupees (yesss, it worked) and then that crowd outside...but I was very lucky to see a friendly face with a paper in front of him that had my name wrongly spelled, but unmistakingly mine...second relief...and before I could look around a friendly travel agent and his driver brought me to a resort inMahaballapuram where I had made reservations to acclimatize (which worked, Ideal Beach Resort, wonderfully).
The ride through Chennai my first confrontation with India, indeed a sensation we all know too well here...love India since for better and worse, returned 2001 and my third trip starts coming July.
#4 Jun 23rd, 2003, 20:51
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  • SitaParityaga is offline
#4

you never forget your first time

First trip outside of the US. Arriving in Delhi at 4 am after 24 hours traveling. Surrounded by touts, taxi wallahs..."official" with a lathi stick clearing the crowds and getting me into a taxi. Ride into town....sun coming up...wrecked, empty, still smoldering cars strewn about. Checking into the Imperial Hotel....not really checking in (I wasn't allowed in because it was too early? ),
then getting the worst room in the hotel....right next to the busy, noisy service entrance.
A woman traveling alone, 1984 (just after the death of Indira Gandhi). Swore I'd never return.....that was many trips ago.
Last edited by SitaParityaga; Jun 24th, 2003 at 00:56..
#5 Jun 23rd, 2003, 21:15
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  • paan wallah is offline
#5
i arrived from athens (greece) around 3.30 in the morning in dehli..
luckily I met some freaks (jewelleryand clothes sellers,artists)on the plane which had been many times to india before,so they would "guide"me to the rigth place to stay in dehli,funny people,everybody except me was on lsd or mushrooms,so we took the airport bus,got off at the wrong bus stop and had to walk a few kilometres to paharganj,my first expression was that india,the mass of people,the smell,the noise etc looks a bit like cairo,a place I love very much
An Australian guy was walking in front of me asking me: you can smell this?And indeed it was the common smell of piss and shit,i replied yeah man it stinks horribly,he just said:hey man welcome to india!
then we had a breakfast,my first chai,my first chappati,my first sabhzi,my first beedie,my first conversation with an indian,my first shit,my first(small)doubt that this could be too much for me,
but at this point I was already sure that this would be the start of a longlasting love...
I checked in at the ajay guesthouse and slept for 12 hours,went outside for dinner,had my first thali,was cheated the first time,wandered around main bazaar like walking in an unrealistic world,
did I take some drugs?what was going on here,cows on the streets?
it s me? paan wallah in wonderland?
had some more chais and beedies and went to bed...having some strange dreams...
I was sure this country had something to offer....

after I came back frome india my friends all said that I changed a lot...

If I remember arriving in other countrys the first time compared to this...no I can t really compare
#6 Jun 23rd, 2003, 23:24
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  • jjwoodee is offline
#6

India-First time

Trial by fire.
(As one posted in another forum)

This sums up the first experience of India for me, and I would think most agree with me for anyone who ventures in the country for the first time. When I stepped onto the India Airlines plane heading into Delhi from Bangkok, and seeing all the darker skinned and black hair filling both aisles, stewardesses in Saris, it hit me. Shit, I’m going to India for month. Mind you, I had learned my baggage was lost on the China Airlines flight. This distressed me. Fortunately a couple bearded, full of smiles and laughs, turban wrapped friends that I recently met on the plane reassured me everything would be fine.

I didn’t believe it, but I had my camera and clothes on my back right? I felt like such a travel rookie and novice. Here without my bags, and alien, and going to a country from 28 days, pah-lease!

Upon arrival at the Delhi airport, I followed others and turned the corner into customs where the first smells of India greeted me. These aromas aren’t those as welcoming as the smells of baked goodies in your grandmothers kitchen, but rather of human body order and urine. I was dumbfounded to see the refugees from Afghanistan, apparently those so desperate to get into India. I was saddened to see such poverty and the hopeless feeling only intensified as I pulled out a pen to try to complete the stupid emigration form. Suddenly hands and eyes reached out desperately to me. I was surrounded. The paranoia set in and I grabbed my camera with my things and tried to find another spot more near the newly arrived passengers. I got my passport stamped and moved on.

I looked around. No high tech displays or LCD digital screens. No sounds of the pager system – just a dirty floor, lots of people and occasional foreign travelers worried glances. But I was determined to look what I knew what I was doing so I pressed on. Since I was going on a Tiger Safari for part of my travels, there had been a company and hotel representative at the airport to greet me. Holding a big sign with my name I was happy to see a somewhat familiar face within the sea of shock.

He asked me why I was late, and I told him about my lost baggage. He told me we needed to get this baggage, and that India Airlines owed me money. Apparently when an airline loses your baggage, there is an obligation to give you some money to help you for the inconvenience factor. My guide at this point told me not to worry, but we certainly needed to go back and talk to someone about the fee that was owed to me. OK, great a first test of my skills of negotiating in India. The compounds of tiredness from the 24 hour flight did not deter me. I was going to money from India Airlines, my guide giving me encouragement press on.

I felt like I was the ball in pinball machine. Appalled at this international airport, no one seemed to know anything. And no one was certainly sympathetic to hear my story. This back and forth from official to official crap went on for a bit, when finally after my last try an India woman at the India Airline desk looked at me smiled, as if she one the argument and stated there was nothing that could be done. I just stared and accepted this fate. Welcome to India.

I went back to my guide and explained everything that happened. He assured me that the hotel and tour would get my baggage back. Don’t worry he told me (“Ko-ii Baht naa eee”), this is your vacation. We got into the car and proceeded to drive into Delhi to the hotel. The sights and sounds from the car window were unlike anything. Animals, roadside fires, and blank stares, the scenes were chaotic, wild, wonderful, and unforgettable.
#7 Jun 24th, 2003, 04:38
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  • wonderwomanusa is offline
#7
You-all, flying into India for the first time, have truly been baptized by fire!

When you do the trip from Europe by land, the sights and smells are not so disorienting -- there's a time machine on the bridge from Istanbul to the Asian side and the changes are more gradual.

I was first there in 1971, a couple of months before the Bangladesh War.

After months on the road from Amsterdam, I left Afghanistan with an awesome case of bacillic dysentery, stating that if I was going to die of it, I wanted to die in India. So I left my friends (stoned on hash and opium) and accompanied by a young fella who was a Peace Corps wallah in Nepal, got on a bus for the Pakistan border. There, we arranged for a minibus to take us to Lahore.

Across Pakistan in one night -- it was incredible. I dozed, woke up when we stopped, to see a huge lorry on its side, crushed. It was like a dinosaur. Dozed, woke up to see another dead lorry. This went on all night... our driver took HIS half of the road out of the middle and played "chicken" with those trucks all the way.

A friendly dentist -- a Sufi -- had the driver drop us at a cheap hotel, and left us his phone number in case we could meet him for some social occasion. We slept for 6 hours, and then got on another bus for the Wagah border.

There, the "psychic customs woman" searched us, and said: "I know you have something with you -- where is it?" I, with about 6000 rupees (12 to a dollar in those days) and some other contraband said "I have nothing with me." My friend, who had about half a pound of hash, said the same.

She kept me there for over an hour, even looking through my little plastic folder of photos from home. Removing some photos, she found a Rs 20 note. "I found this -- it's mine." I told her to take it if she thought it was hers.

Well, to cut this short, she didn't find my booty, nor Jerry's hash, and we entered Amritsar on the back of a horse-drawn tonga. We got a train to Chandigarh, stayed the night at the Panchyat Bhavan, and then went up to Kulu for the Dusshera mela.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#8 Jun 24th, 2003, 13:09
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  • Adam18au is offline
#8
My Baptism of fire came in December 2002

After 15 hours of travelling from Australia we arrived at Chennai Airport, when we left Australia it had been around about 25 degrees celcius and about 3 in the afternoon we arrived at Chennai airport a little over dressed it was 12am and the tmperature was in the high 20's and it was around about 90% humidity and no steve there is no air conditioning, it is a simple cement building that holds the heat rather well. When you are standing inline with people that have been in transit as long as you have they dont smell to good, but that was nothing compared to the pollution smell outside, where we finally arrived aftr around about 2 hours in the airport building by the time we got through customs and waited for our bags to come off the plane. We all walked outside and the smell was putrid, it made me dry reach nothing i had ever smelt before smelled like this. Luckily our skin colour ean we were treated like VIPs outside the airport and our driver new exactly where to be and got rid of all the taxi drivers for us. Driving at about 2am on Chennai streets was a pretty freaky one considering we were the noly ones on the road it seem to give the driver the idea he could go about 100km/h but what hit me most was the amount of people sleeping on the side of the road. We finally arrived at the Pandian which isnt to bad a hotel i must admit, i couldnt sleep anyway but we werent allowed to venture out!!
#9 Jun 24th, 2003, 22:17
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  • Anders is offline
#9
Those off you that where chocked:
Was this your first visit in a "third world" country?
#10 Jun 24th, 2003, 22:45
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  • jjwoodee is offline
#10
yep, but is India considered a "third world country" What is a third world country by western definition?
#11 Jun 24th, 2003, 23:10
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  • cyberhippie is offline
#11

Damp Squid!!

When I first flew into Delhi, the whole thing was a bit of a let down or maybe relief!? I had been working for three years with guys that visited India regularly and had been "primed" by all the horror stories they could think of, so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I set off for the sub-continent (actually I was wheeking myself truth be told)
I had been on a dummy run to Egypt to break myself in, so the whole scene was'nt unfamiliar. I had also had a week stopover in Pakistan on the way, which in it's own way was also a bit tame. The good ol LP had a wez craven arrival scenario, describing it as worse than Howrah Station!! In actual fact it took us 1/2 an hour to find someone to take us to Saddar Bazaar!!
The arrival in India was just fine then it started to get strange I remember countless hours spent simply people watching a sport I still follow when in India.
My second trip to India was with my wife and I'll never forget her first words as we stepped into the Paharganj at 5am (and we all know the main bazaar does'nt look it's best at this time!) as we traipsed through the waste from the previous day's business, she loudly proclaimed "why the F..... did you bring me here??"
I was non plussed I had simply assumed she would see India as I saw it, that took a bit of time, two more trips in fact but these days I think she is more enthusiastic than me!!
#12 Jun 25th, 2003, 02:02
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  • Colin is offline
#12
I arrived on Christmas Day 1965 in Calcutta. There was no disembarking 'tubes' at Calcutta so we were disgorged on to the runway. I remember the smell of India, dust and woodsmoke but the thing that struck me and burnt itself into my memory was the sound of crows, farkkkk, farkkk, farkkk. A Melbourne entertainer later used this sound on television and got fired for his efforts but to me, it always means India!!
#13 Jun 25th, 2003, 02:48
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  • Alan D is offline
#13
Well, that's a pretty good impression of an Indian crow for an Australian non-birder. I agree it's one of sounds of India.

I don't understand. Why did they fire this guy for making Indian bird noises?
What a long strange trip it's been!
#14 Jul 10th, 2003, 10:30
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#14

Thumbs up

+\- 12 November 2002

i needed a break, and a collegue came up with a good idea, "you should deffinately go to Goa!"
and i thought, great , that sounds like a perfect tropical island to get some rest…

The airplane ticket on my doormat said Amsterdam - Bombay… i was sure i heard of that place before but what country that was i couldn't remember…

in a rush i bought some new undies and a secondhand backpack (never backpacked before) and got my injections 2 days before i left…//

India! Aha! so.. where might that be ?

After al, that didn't matter anymore, i was there in the middle of night, and already ripped off by the first pre-paid taxi boost in the hallway outside.
I walked with a piece of paper, following a guy who brought me to my cab driver who got rudely disturbed in his beauty sleep.
"Bring me to Colaba! Can i smoke in here?"

I don't know what i felt, but it was like i stepped into a crazy movie or something i kinda felt home in.

After we hopped 5 hotels in and out we finally found this lodge which was descent enough for the price (500R) i changed my clothes while the taxi driver drank my Thumbs Up i got for free from the Receptionist (Actually, i said he could have it , hehe), then asked him if he could bring me to some club or something, i felt like dancing…

First club was closed, Second he knew didn't exist anymore, People he asked some advice on the way thought i was looking for the red light district and asked me if i was interested in "sex"

uh.. not really, i like to go dancing! bring me to a discotheque!

"ok ok.."

Ones more he stops, a man in costume salutes me and points into a direction i followed, i see a small but long narrow path and at the end of the path flips a light on, another man in costume, also pointing in a way, i'm getting warm now..

The last person in costume holds a door and tells me to walk through the kitchen up the stairways, open the door and have fun.

BOOM!
Overwhelming. Gold. Lights. Colours.

Indian girls (and indian ...man/girls... whatever) in Indian dress dance on beautiful Indian Music on a smal dancefloor in a square (about 4x4m), men sitting around it waving money and drinking all kinds of licker..



OMG!! I'm in a F*** WHORE HOUSE!

A waiter (waiters, guests ratio 1:1) asked for 500R and gave me a beer and all kind of salty nuts to feed. for the next 5 minutes Everybody was laughing and staring at me while i was sitting there with still my sunglasses on, keeping it cool (not!)...



The guy next to me became a friend, and after a while he winked someone for a private dance for himself (a funny looking woman) and some minutes later her friend joined us to dance for me (you guesed it, a transexual or whateva you call em) who didnt let me out of her sight untill after couple of minutes all the dancers start running away,

"police, police!" panic everywhere..




My new friend grabbed my hand and we runned through some rooms (where people having dirty sex) and through a backdoor onto the streets, he dumped me into a cab and told the cabdriver to bring me away as fast as he could..
i forgot to ask for my new friends name.

15 minutes later i'm back in front on the guesthouse, but yet not sleepy..
I walk in a street where people are sleeping on cardboard boxes, i stepped on a fat rat, smelled the air and felt good to be here.. it felt like.. 'home'

10 meters further some backpackers just arrived and where talking in front of a hotel with some indian guy, while i was passing by i heard him saying "hey… smoke ?" which sounded like music into my ears...

We smoked some grass together in sight of Gate of India next to the water, he sold me a bag full of it and i asked him (Mahender) to be here for me in couple of hours, i'm off to bed now-

A beginning of a friendship. 2 weeks we spent together. 2 months later i came back to india, and we spent 2 months crossing the country..

See my photogallery (continually updating)
Peace,
Ridha
#15 Jul 11th, 2003, 02:10
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