After the obligatory group picture, we said good-bye to our wives, proceeded through security, then to our gate where many people were waiting. Weather in both Dallas and Chicago created havoc for AA. The announcement that the 1:30p flight to Chicago had been delayed until at least 2:30p (the 1:30p time was already delayed from the original time) was an indicator of what we would deal with once we arrive in St. Louis. Our original itinerary provided us 1 hr. 25 min. in Chicago to make our 7:10p flight to Delhi. When our 4:30p departure from St. Louis was delayed until 5:30p, it was obvious that making our Delhi flight would be close. After we boarded the pilot advised that we would not be departing until 6:00p.
As we prepared to land in Chicago for a 7:00p arrival, they began to read off gates for connecting flights. We were arriving at gate K10 and our Delhi flight was departing at gate K12! (A great example of God’s provision.) We immediately boarded the Boeing 777, which fortunately was well below passenger capacity (meaning we had a place to put our carry-on). As it turned out, our plane did not pull away from the gate until 8:00p, which meant that all our luggage also made it to Delhi.
Fourteen hours, little sleep, one movie, a couple of TV re-runs, two meals (dinner and breakfast), and multiple walk up and down the aisles breaks, we arrive at Indira Ghandi Int’l in Delhi. A long maze to have our passport stamped in the un-air-conditioned space was followed by picking up our luggage (all of it) and exchanging some US dollars for Indian rupees. We then headed for the customs line, since we head had a suitcase full of medicines, this could be interesting. The official simply waived us through without checking anything!
As you exit customs, there are literally hundreds of Indians waiting for people, many with hand written signs. John turned to me and said, “Louis is dark skinned, about 5’9”…” Humor always helps break the tension. Almost immediately we saw Louis and Tuna, who were glad to see us as we were them. After loading six people and 9 suitcases in (and on) a Toyota mini-van, we were off to our hotel (the Delhi YWCA). After a “typical” ride in anywhere, urban developing foreign country (drives use their horn rather than their brakes), we arrived at the ‘Y’ (interrupted by a brief stop at a McDonald’s for Louis and Tuna who had not eaten). By a little after midnight, we were settled in for our first night in India.
Written By Larry Lloyd