Indira Gandhi International Airport
I was standing in the queue to fill up my arrival immigration form and also for getting my passport stamped when I heard a lot of commotions and that made me look back.
Guards were surrounding the place while people tried to pass through and stood on their tiptoe. A man wearing a black coat and glasses was surrounded by bodyguards and I couldn’t really see his face from the distance as he made his way out protected by the security agency.
Probably, a celebrity or something.
When I looked back, I was already the second one in the queue and soon the man before me left and I smiled at the man who showed me his polished white teeth and handed me a form.
“You need to fill out all these details and your purpose of visit,” he said in a fake American accent and I nodded.
“Here you go,” I told him once I was done with my job and handed him the for. He went through it and nodded before asking me my passport.
“Welcome to India. I hope you have a good time over here Ms. Malhan,” he said and I nodded.
“Thank You,” I said in hindi and took my passport as he gave me a look as I gave him a side smile and walked through the airport taking in the interior design. The airport was massive, comparatively much larger than Asheville Regional Airport.
I could see Indian culture, from the design of its interior and I had no idea why but I was beaming as I took out of my phone and clicked some photos. This was officially my first time in India and hopefully not the last time. The aroma of Indian food and starbucks hit my nose and I was already starving wanting to taste Indian food that was not made by Aunt Suzi.
Sure, she did cook me Indian food but I knew she added a hint of western dishes and ingredients in it. So, I had never really had any Indian food, my whole twenty-four years of life.
As much as I was dying to try it in the airport, I took the decision against it as I wanted to have in some local restaurants or perhaps stall the night in some street searching for food. I hurried up to the currency exchange counter and after I was done, I was asked by a man about booking a taxi.
As much as I wanted to take a next flight and fly off to Rajasthan, I gave it a thinking and ended up taking a decision for staying in Delhi for some days exploring the city, food and its culture before leaving for Rajasthan.
I was hoping to take a train journey to Rajasthan.
As soon as I walked out of the airport, I was hit by a strong hot breeze and instantly, I stopped in my tracks feeling the warm weather. It was incredibly hot and that made me fetch out my scarf from my handbag and I took some time to tie up my hair and used the scarf to hide my face from burning.
Also the noise of traffic and vehicles honking.
My ears were already becoming sensitive to the traffic and I looked up at the sky. It was a lot different actually from what I have always seen in North Carolina. The weather back there was nice but I didn’t really expect the high temperature all of a sudden and to top of that I had read Rajasthan was also in its hottest period of the season.
Either, I chose the wrong time or I am stupid.
I hauled a taxi and I asked him politely to take me to a good hotel. I knew no one from India and as the guy stopped before a hotel, helped me with my luggage and as I paid him money, he looked up at me.
“Are you alone?” he asked all of a sudden and I furrowed my eyebrows at him thinking whether to tell him or not.
I mean I definitely looked like an India and there would be no way he would try to rob me in front of a hotel thinking me as a foreigner, right?
“Yes brother, I am alone,” I told him in hindi and he nodded adding the money with the other notes stuffed inside his pant pockets as he looked back at me.
“Just an advice sister, if anyone asks you this whether you are alone, don’t tell them that you are. Instead tell them, you are in a group and they waiting for you somewhere,” he said and before I could tell him anything he smiled at me and bobbed his head before walking to his taxi and driving off.
A smile broke onto my face as I watched him leave, totally amused.
“Are people around here really this friendly and caring?” I thought as I picked up my luggage until a valet came running from the hotel helping me pick up my luggage and we walked in.
My days in Delhi was amazing and blissful as I enjoyed my time of being a tourist. The food was mouthwatering, heavenly and delicious. I got to taste the spices of India and every food I ate, I was gobsmacked by the burst of spices in my mouth. I absolutely loved it and perhaps my inheritance from India helped me to deal with the spices. My favourite thing was the ‘chai’ from a local stall near my hotel. I would walk every evening to have a glass before roaming around.
Originally, I thought of staying for only four days but ended up staying a week as I couldn’t get my hands on the Rajasthan train ticket. And I was keen on traveling by train, because I have always wanted to be in an Indian train, since I have watched it in lot of bollywood movies with Aunt Suzi.
Finally, it was the day to leave for Rajasthan and I got my luggages ready and marched up the busy train station. Inside the station, it was a chaos as people scurried here and there for their train. I saw some vendors inside and although I couldn’t understand the platform system, stil after taking information from a lot of people, I ended up at the right platform waiting for my train.
The platform was less crowded compared to the other ones and I saw some men staring at me. I was wearing a black jeans and a white full sleeved top and used the scarf to hide my face, since I couldn’t bear the staring. Perhap, I was alone, and it may be the main reason of people staring.
But I shrugged it off and took hold of my bag when I saw the train arriving and got in. I know I wanted to have a real taste of India, but still I booked an AC compartment, sleeping class, as suggested by the lady in the counter. And it was also incredibly hot, so I gathered my luggage as I searched for my seat and finally sat down, setting my things in the compartment.
I had taken the window seat while I saw someone sleeping above me and the rest two seats before me was vacated.
As my journey begun, I stared out of my window thinking where to begin. I had absolutely no idea, where to start from. The only clue I had was a locket that I had since my childhood and some faint memories of a place surrounded by trees. If I am correct, then I was sent to the states when I was five or six. Till then, whatever I remembered, I only remember a place surrounded by trees and a pond or perhaps river at the backyard of the house.
I remember that because, I got drowned there once and after that I got my consciousness, I was in states. But I had the chain and a locket with a blue star with me since the day I was born. So, perhaps if I could search where it was made, I would get the address of the owner.
It was how I decided to work on and so I chose Pushkar to begin with. I asked a lot of jewellers in Delhi and they told me, I should visit Pushkar once, and visit the jewellers there. They knew who made the chain, just by having a glance at it. I was already beaming.
It seems luck was in my favour.
But suddenly my body shivered up and I hugged my body tight. It was as if I felt a bad premonition about something that I didn’t know. But then again, I mistook the emotion with the low temperature of the compartment and ended up wrapping a white bed sheet assigned by the railway department.
With a only hope in mind to find my parents, I succumbed to the darkness, as I slept comfortably on my seat, putting my phone under my pillow.