Okay, let me rephrase that, I haven’t slept in a bed since about 3:39 am on Sunday, July 7th PST in Sherman Oaks, California. I haven’t taken a bath either. Is that gross? It might be in some parts of the world, but I think there is a lot of leniency given to me, by myself, if not anyone else, especially after all I have been through in the past two days.
You want to know why? Well, I am about to tell you.
The first thing I need to remind my sleep deprived self, who is currently sitting at the Hotel Sampoorna in Mumbai, while my brother takes a nap, is that I totally have lost track of time. I traveled on planes and through airport terminals for all of July 8th. I realized I needed to make up for the lost post from that day, but I just wrote one this morning from the airport at about 3:30 local time in Singapore, which is about 3 hours ahead of Mumbai time, and almost 15 hours ahead of West Coast USA time. Technically, I did supply a July 8th post to my readers, but I am so OCD that since I am was in a time zone where it was July 9th when I wrote it, I really didn’t consider it a July, 8th post. You know what I mean right? I am sleep deprived and bloated on so much airplane and now Indian food, and still getting getting riper by the minute if you know what I mean. Please forgive me!
When I crossed the times zones and finally arrived in Mumbai, I gained another 2 1/2 hours. Not only that, but I am about 12 1/2 hours ahead of most of my friends on the West Coast now, so I will send you some predictions from the future if you want to place some bets in the past, and we can split the winnings, Okay?
After I wrote the previous blog post, I grabbed a bite to eat, which consisted of a few bags of nuts. I also decided to buy a toothbrush and paste, so I could brush out the yuck mouth. Having a clean mouth felt really good. My flight was to depart at 7:30, so I packed up my electronics, all fully charged, which was great, and jumped on the train to terminal 2.
Changi International airport is like a small city all in one airport. It has a mall, food court, gym, showers, day spa, sleeping room, free movie theater, Butterfly Garden, and much much more. Pretty much this is where you would want to be holed up with a bunch of your friends during the Apocalypse, zombie or otherwise.
I made it to my gate early. It didn’t even open until 6:30. The flight was set to leave at 7:30 local time.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I feel like all that I have done over the past 40 hours of travelling is eat. So, while I waited at the terminal, I strategically positioned myself to do some calisthenics. I didn’t really trip when someone saw me when they passed by, because I just embraced the “crazy American” stereotype that I feel we have to maintain.
My early morning boot camp routine was not the weirdest thing going on in that terminal this morning. I saw on two separate occasions elderly people walking in circles with tongs. No clue what that was all about. I didn’t see any salads that needed to be tossed immediately anywhere in the vicinity. No meat left unturned, as they say in Mumbai. Do they?
The gate finally opened and after we cleared the in-gate security checkpoint, we boarded a Singapore airlines flight and we were off.
The Singapore Airlines flight crew was a group of well-groomed individuals who were extremely attentive to every passengers needs. They were also uber-polite, addressing everyone as ma’am and sir. The plane was spacious, hi-tech, and the food service was quite tasty. The only complaint, which had nothing to do with the airline, was that the flight experienced a ton of turbulence. That was nearly negated by the warm hand towels that you were offered when first boarding, the constant coddling and the delicious and warm Indian style breakfast, which I was served. The only thing that was missing was in-flight massages, and if there was a crew that might implement that amenity, I could totally see them doing so. Hint, Hint.
I did sleep for what I calculated to be about 40 minutes on that 4 hour and 40 minute flight. I would venture to guess that I am running on about 5 hours total sleep in the past 48 hours, and zero showers. So yummy, huh?
Rolling with the theme of not having any expectations, our plane was delayed a few minutes on its descent into Mumbai due to inclement weather. Did I mention yet, that it’s Monsoon season. Matter of fact it is pouring right now. The thing I want to emphasize, is that what I really was looking forward to seeing was the massive slums that Mumbai is noted for. I hope that doesn’t sound weird. Is there anyway I could make that not sound weird? The city’s slum are world famous and the area is probably the biggest tenement type establishment of its kind in the world.
When we were given clearance to land and dropped below the cloud line to make our descent, like a heavy metal bird swooping down in on the third most populous city in the world, I began to notice the blue patches dotting the landscape, in between polka dots of lush green vegetation.
The most noticeable color that splatters the sea of corrugated, grey tin roofs across this infamous area, are those of the houses whose owner’s have chosen to further waterproof their homes by strapping down large pieces of French Blue colored plastic tarp to the roof.
I was amazed. The ghetto seemed to stretch the whole length of airstrip and beyond, an unsettling welcoming image, letting people know that they have now landed in the City of Mumbai.
I finally made it. Let the real fun begin.
Remember, way back to a couple of days ago when I left Sherman Oaks, CA and boarded a plane at LAX at 6 am, PST on Sunday, July 7th. Well I hit the tarmac at Mumbai about 10:10 am Tuesday, July 9th, almost 40 hours after I took off.
I deplaned for the fourth time in two days, and headed to get my bag. Mumbai airport is a far cry from modern. It actually reminded me of a labyrinthine modular home, dark, brown and dingy.
If I am correct, the only store in the whole building is a Duty Free shop, you have to pass through to get out of the building. I was a little bummed, because this spoiled American needed a real cup of coffee. I thought there were Starbuck’s everywhere! I was also hoping to be able to have access to free wi-fi, but the only access point that came through on my phone was prompting me to answer way too many questions and I didn’t want to send all the information over a foreign Wi-Fi connection.
I breezed through immigration and proceeded to go get my bag. I am going to cut to the chase, my bag didn’t show up. Yay!
I wasn’t really surprised that this occurred. Looking back, I knew when I was suddenly re-routed to Singapore from HK, that they were not going to dig my bag out from underneath the 500 underneath pieces stuffed into our plane, especially within the 30 minute time frame window in which I was checked in and told to go board my new plane.
I didn’t throw a fit, no energy to. I just filled out the paperwork and now I will wait to see if my bag gets here. They said it might be here tomorrow.
I went outside and waited for my ride. Not bummed or mad. I was prepared for anything, by being in acceptance and understanding what was beyond my control.
Outside of the airport I was met with heat and humidity, but not as bad as the New Orleans humidity I experienced on the Gulf Coast Rebuild last year.
A few minutes later, I saw my friend Reji’s brother walking toward me with a big smile. He met me with a big hug and this was followed by brother, who was running on about the same sleep and travel schedule as I was over the past two days. I was so glad to see both of them. I had made it safe to India and was met by one of my most favorite people in the world.
I am here to witness the marriage of one of my best friends. What do I have to be mad about?
Stay tuned, I am about to welcome you to the most chaotic city on earth. I will add more pictures next time and edit better. I am running out of juice on my laptop and don’t have a convertor, yet. Namaste