Mesmerizing India – Day 1

We arrived in India Sunday before last. Nervousness abounded within the three of us after nearly three years since our last visit. Moreover we landed in New Delhi and not in Bangalore as usual. Our previous arrival in Bombay was not very pleasant during our visit about a decade back – we were demanded money to get our luggage off the conveyor – eyeing we were arriving from US, Rupees wouldn’t do, dollars would. Anyway, the modern New Delhi airport (Safdarjung Int’l) is vastly different. The improvements in New Delhi’s infrastructure, if not India’s, is evident right at the airport. We had to walk about 10 minutes to get to immigration. Signs were not very clear though there were many ‘All Passport Holders’ information boards leading upto counters, it wasn’t evident we should take the line – anyone, including domestic travellers can have a passport right? After Immigration check, I stopped at a Duty Free shop and picked up a carton of Malboro for my aging father. He still smokes after a stroke despite all recommendations. I thought let him enjoy the few things he can while he fights age related disabilities.

Our ride was a mini van with Mr. Singh being our driver for the next five days. The atmosphere was extremely humid and we were already sweating at midnight (!!) after getting off the terminal. The ride to Gurgaon Courtyard took about 35 minutes. Traffic was sparse at this time. Vikas was amused how Mr. Singh and other vehicles constantly drove over the lane markings and of course, the constant honking.

I should take a moment to write about the arrival at the hotel as it is very different from checking into a US hotel. The hotel’s entry (the gateway was about 40 feet wide) was blocked by steel cylinders projecting up from the ground. The two security guards signalled us to stop and a sniffer went around the vehicle. The guards checked the bottom of the vehicle with extended mirrors. After opening the hood, a press of a button brought down some of the steel barricades to let us through. Once at the doorway, we went through a IR scanned doorway, a physical tap-check followed. Our bags were all scanned on the conveyor. The check-in was smooth. You can get a sense of the level of service the moment you enter the hotel with staff attending to you and guiding you. This is in stark contrast to the minimal staff at hotels in the US. Suffice it to say that the service is extraordinary at these Indian hotels.

The Courtyard at Gurgaon is one heck of a hotel. We had glimpses of it upon arrival, but we were too tired and went to bed soon after.

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