Indi-aaaaaaahhhhhhhh! Jaipur to be precise. Hathroi Fort area, just off the main road so there’s minimal hornings, barkings, and general shenanigans. There is a mosque nearby, and it’s comforting to hear call to prayer, even if it’s first thing in the morning of your first full day back in this car congested, smog filled, fort filled pink city. My feet were black with dirt but my cheeks were hurting (the face ones) from smiling at being here, despite the stinking cold and blocked ear.
Apart from the 48hrs of sneezing, my snoring at Mumbai domestic airport, and general deafness all the way here, it was ANOTHER uneventful process from start to finish. Although I did leave a fiver in the blooming shoe scanner box at Heathrow, the plane was unaccountably an hour late departing, but arrived practically on time, and the same thing happened out of Mumbai domestic (is this a ‘thing’ now? You lie about your real departure time, leave late, then arrive on time so people are even more impressed than if it’d just been business as usual…?)My bag was only 14.5kilos – that’s 3 x the cat….he’s a portion, but not a rucksack sized one, my plane neighbours were really friendly and chatty, but not intrusively so, and I was door to door Woking 925 to T5 duty free in 45mins.
What was then even weirder was, having been geared up for a 3hour marathon wait at immigration at Mumbai International and arranging 6 hrs between arriving and departing to final destination to avoid the mad dehydrated scramble to find my bag that was removed from the luggage carousel 2.5hrs before, then hightail it to domestic, all whilst desperately needing a pee, there was NO-ONE, NO-ONE (okay 6) at passport control. And when I say NO-ONE, I’m referring to foreign arrivals and not the customs officers, who usually are nowhere to be found. It was bizarre, eerily so. 30plus counters, nearly all manned and by awake and engaged officials….what was going on? Turns out a daytime arrival is where it’s at, as it’s at 2am that all the flights come in from left and right and fill the hall to the brim. Even the e-Visa process only required the one finger….my right index, as it turns out. I was done in 5mins and for the first time in living history was actually at a Mumbai International carousel before my luggage. Through and out in 20mins. It had taken longer to walk from the plane to the hall, than it did to get through and to my bag. I was stunned. And mildly put out that I now had a 5hr wait to get my connection.
Still, it meant that I could leisurely wander my way out and actually see what the arrivals part of the airport is like, as normally it’s a blur. Taxi drive was a blur, as I avoided looking out the window too much as it was total chaos, as per. The ceiling was a good distraction.
Luckily check-in at domestic is a handy 4hrs in advance, although that didn’t deter too many turning up last minute, or else sitting around at the airport, chitchatting with each other and taking random photos with the foreigner with the red nose and unbrushed hair because she is ‘so pretty’ (couldn’t offer any free eye tests, sadly) before realising the calls for their flights were coming through the tannoy and them and their luggage needed to be at a check in desk sharpish.
One airport masala dosa later and I was ready for my Jaipur flight. Once the airline put the actual seats on my seat and 2 others we were strapped in and ready to go nowhere, in order to leave late and arrive on time. Again. And so at 19:15 I touched down into Jaipur international airport, out into a cool night and into my car to head to my home for 5nights. Good to be back.