First Stop Chicago, Next Stop New Delhi...

Trip Start May 14, 2010
Trip End Jul 25, 2010

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

We departed the U.S. from the Chicago O'Hare airport on Friday evening. When my classmates and I arrived at O'Hare, I was the only one without a seat on the flight to New Delhi.  The flight was packed.  Thankfully, the gate agent was able to give me a seat minutes before we boarded. 

The fifteen-hour flight wasn't as bad as I imagined.  I had the pleasure of sitting next to an Indian, who just graduated from the Stanford School of Business, and will be working at Morgan Stanley in the fall.  It was an overnight flight, so most of the time I slept and the rest I read for the journal write-on competition (competition for a position on one of IU's law journals). 

An hour before we arrived in New Delhi, we were served breakfast.  I opted for the Indian meal, which was potatoes and some kind of stuffed pastry.  The potatoes were really spicy.  My friend from Stanford noticed I wasn't eating the breakfast and asked if I liked it.  I expressed it was unexpectedly spicy.  He said, "Well you're going to have a difficult time with the food then."  :(  I enjoy the spices of Indian food, but not for breakfast.  I guess I'm going to have to adjust.

We arrived in New Delhi around 8:30 p.m. (New Delhi is 10 hours ahead of EST).  Going through customs was a breeze, and the airport was unusually tranquil.  Everyone was quiet and patiently waiting for their luggage to arrive. 

It wasn't until I was waiting at baggage claim that it hit me, "I'm in India!"  It was a great feeling.  It's amazing the experiences I have been blessed with in such a short amount of time.  I am only 24 years old and have visited five countries, and plan to visit many more.

After everyone got their bags, we exchanged our U.S. Dollars for Rupees.  The exchange rate at the airport was 44 rupees to the dollar.  While I waited at the bank to exchange my money, I was surprised when a group of young Indian men rudely cut me in line.  Thankfully, the teller pushed them to the side to help me

The next move was to find the drivers hired to take us to the hotel.  Professor Krishnan informed us the drivers would be waiting for us with a sign saying "Indiana University".  As we exited the baggage area into ground transportation we surveyed all the signs, but none said Indiana University.  Unable to locate our drivers, we decided to purchase pre-paid taxis at a booth located inside the airport.  Unbeknownst to us, there were more drivers with signs waiting outside, including our drivers. 

Relieved we wouldn't have to take a random taxi, we followed the drivers to their cars.  As we walked we were surrounded by young Indian men grabbing our luggage.  At first we thought they were part of the group of men driving us to the hotel, but later found out they only helped us for a tip.  I was fortunate enough not to get swarmed by these men asking for money, but my classmate was unable to escape their begging.  Four men surrounded her, demanding a tip.  She ended up giving them $11 in total.   

The drive to the hotel was an experience.  It was dark outside, now around 9:30 p.m., but there was enough street light to see the area as we drove by.  On the road there were motorcycles with up to three people riding on them, including small children (without helmets), big trucks that said "Blow Horn" on the back of them, rikshaws, and numerous other cars.  The honking reminded me of being in New York City.  After traveling only a short distance, I realized the necessity of honking.  Indians do not drive in the lines or use blinkers.  It's kind of a free for all.  Anyone can go anywhere at any time. 

The hotel, the Jindal Steel Guest House, is nice.  We are fortunate to have such nice accomodations.  I am sharing a room with one of my classmates.  My roommate and I have two very different internships.  She will be working for one of the largest corporate law firms in India, while I will be working for a NGO.  Our first day is Monday.  It will be interesting to hear her experiences at the law firm.  I'm sure we will both learn a lot from each other. 
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