Delhi to London

As with the flight coming from London, the Delhi end of my return flight was at a stupid hour. This flight was scheduled to leave at the utterly moronic time of 3:20 AM. All I can say is that I'm glad not to live next to the airport. We got back to Delhi from Agra at 10:30, so I had just enough time to shower and repack my things before getting to the airport 3 hours early.

It was a good thing I did, since with all the control they had in place, there wasn't an awful lot of order. I still rank Miami Airport as the most egregious, but in Delhi Airport you still need to have some fairly sharp elbows. There was a line to get into the departure building. There was a line to get to the airline counter. There was a line to get through passport control, and there was a huge line to get through security to the gate. I had worried that there would be nothing to do. There was no more reason to read my travel books on India, and I had spent most of my rupees. I could probably buy a newspaper, but nothing bigger to read. In the end, though, three hours was just enough to go from one hurdle through to the next.

While waiting for security, there was a very nervous man in front of me. Actually, he started out being two people in front of me. He had a suitcase and a shopping bag full of his things, and walked away from them. When the line moved up, a stern woman with owl glasses walked in front of his bags. He came running back, pointed in front of her, but she crossed her arms and shook her head. So now he was in front of me. He would walk away, and then rush back when the line moved. At one point he took out a cigarette and started puffing furiously, creating a stationary cloud and a horrible stench.

The strange behavior and the unattended, makeshift-looking bags, combined with the fact that this man had a uni-brow, started to make me uncomfortable the most uncomfortable I've ever been. This man fit the wrong profile. I consoled myself by thinking that you can't worry about fate, I've had an interesting life, and besides, I was wearing clean underwear. Maybe some people just don't like to fly.

After security, I found myself standing behind two full-figured British women, a pair of Valkuries who were scary in a more normal sense. They'd just gone through Rajasthan on horseback, and remarked that the fellows in Rajasthan had never seen blonde women like them before. That might well have been true. These two women played the part beautifully, making mildly sarcastic remarks to each other from time to time, and laughing at their own in-jokes.

The flight was easy, and everyone went right to sleep. I was on the mend, but luckily I had an aisle seat, just in case. We touched down in a seemingly short time, I got the train and then a taxi home. The first thing I did was to throw all of the clothes in the washing machine and to give myself a good, thorough cleaning.

The next day, for some untold reason, I had the mad urge to go shopping. I never go shopping. I had this crazy idea that I would go and look for shirts, though I ended up dragging home a bunch of kitchen stuff instead. Normally I make fun of British shopkeepers, since they make such an art of ignoring you. You could turn blue and drop in front of them and they wouldn't bat an eyelash. But after being poked, prodded and jiggled every minute in India, this was a novelty. No one said so much as "Can I help you?" It was wonderful.