I had been at home from another work trip to Seoul for all of two days before I re-packed my luggage for VERY different weather (In the mid-20s in Seoul to 90s in India!), and headed off on the long journey to Ahmedabad.
After a total of nine hours in the air and a two-hour layover in Singapore, I touched down in India at around 11:30 pm. I was exhausted as I don’t usually have to fly for that long and I was ready for SLEEP!
*** Side note – I watched Jojo Rabbit on the flight and it was SO cute. And touching. I thought it was a straight comedy so I was pleasantly surprised that it was serious (and sad!) in some parts. Definitely recommend it!
But first, Indian immigration. If you have an anxiety disorder, maybe skip India. Just maybe don’t ever go there, like ever ever. I head towards the line for foreigners, and when I reach the front of the line I am instructed to go in another line for people “coming from China.” I said “I didn’t come from China” twice before I realized, Oooh, they regard Hong Kong as part of China. Hmph. I’m not even a native Hong Konger and I still have a chip on my shoulder about people who say Hong Kong is a city in China!
This guy tells me to go see the doctor that’s in a make-shift office at the back of the immigration hall and to get a paper signed to indicate that I am not diseased and in fact just want some pasta and an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Netflix. Okay the form didn’t say that. I fooled you, huh?
After getting my temperature checked and the form signed I returned to that counter and was finally let in the country. One step closer to room service! Yeah!
After getting my luggage I go outside where there is allegedly supposed to be someone waiting for me to take me to the hotel. To the surprise of no one, no one is waiting for me. There are only about five dudes with signs, and I walked back and forth in front of them probably ten times over the course of 30 minutes, but to no avail. My SIM card is supposed to have international data on it, but of course it wasn’t working right then.
After my millionth lap, I bit the bullet and said yes to one of the 387 people asking me if I needed a taxi. It happens a LOT in Asia that random people just hang out in arrival halls and try to get people to accept their bootleg “taxi” offers in their personal cars (Seoul for some reason is the biggest offender of this in my experience). I didn’t know what the heck else to do, so I followed this guy to the parking lot and got in what definitely did not look like a taxi.
We drive for about 20 minutes and we arrive at a Hyatt, but turns out there are two Hyatts in Ahmedabad, and I got taken to the wrong one. STOKED. Amazing start. As you might imagine, I was in a sensational mood by this point. The hotel called me another cab that showed up probably 20 minutes later, and then we drove for another 20 minutes after that and I FINALLY got to the Hyatt that I was staying at, checked in, ordered some spaghetti, and like a Host on Westworld, fell into a deep and dreamless slumber. I swear I’m wearing shorts in this photo, I just have abnormally long limbs lolz.
I was woken up at 10:00 am (7:30 am HK time and I didn’t go to sleep until about 3am so I was cranky :)) by the front desk saying someone was in the lobby from the India Health Organization (something like that) and they needed to interview me. Awesome, just what I wanted to do. This guy basically asked me the same questions that they did at the airport, so I have no idea what the point was, especially since I’m mildly confident he had no idea wtf I was even saying to him. I realized probably an hour after the interview that when he was asking me “How long you live India,” to which I said “I don’t live in India” that he was asking me on what date I was LEAVING, not living. I wonder what he wrote down since my answer obviously didn’t make sense!
But you know what? This trip was pretty smooth sailing after that. I spent the rest of the day prepping and geared up to start the arbitration the following day… but I woke up to a text telling me that one of the respondents had pulled a stunt in an effort to delay the proceedings (definitely not atypical) and succeeded. I thought for sure the whole thing was cancelled, but we finally started two days later after they finished arguing about what they were going to argue about.
Five years ago I would have been horrified to be doing an arbitration comprised of a tribunal of two retired Indian judges and one Singaporean and nine lawyers (who all spoke at one time or another), all Indian, and I was definitely nervous, but remained positive because letting my anxiety take over wasn’t going to do a damn thing to help me!
Well, BLESS their Indian hearts, because with the exception of two of them who loved to mumble or sit too far back from their microphone, they were all actually excellent speakers and weren’t too hard for me to understand. The witnesses were another story, but luckily my friend Kim, the best editor in the WORLD, edited for me remotely from England, so our transcripts came out pretty good, if I do say so myself! And I am. Saying that, that is.
Not wanting to go anywhere alone for dinner, I had delicious room service offerings every day. No one is more surprised than I that I actually really ended up liking the food. I figured out that if I stick to things that are yellow or green in color and not fiery ulcer-inducing red, I can handle it! Also, GARLIC NAAN **Homer Simpson drool sound**
I headed out around 8:30 pm on Tuesday evening for an unenviable six-hour red eye flight, after which I had a six-hour layover in Singapore. It was even worse than I thought it was going to be lol. I ended up upgrading myself to business class for the first leg so that I could sleep, but of course couldn’t for whatever reason. I was WRECKED by the time we landed. I wasn’t on my usual airline that I have status with, so with no lounge to rest in I curled up on the floor and attempted to sleep. Real classy, but what’re you gonna do? I love that randomly sprawling out in a corner is totally normal in an airport! I managed to get a couple 30-minute naps, but that’s about it. Same with the Singapore > Hong Kong flight. I was so excited for sleep! In my own bed!
If you’ve stuck with me this long, that concludes my tale on how India redeemed itself. A couple snafus, but I came out relatively unscathed and actually won’t recoil in horror the next time I’m asked to go to India. I might even do something besides sit in a hotel room or an arbitration room!
Work in Hong Kong is very slow at the moment due to the Coronavirus, all government buildings being closed which of course includes the courts, so I’m off to Singapore next week. If I have time, I’ll try to do something exciting so that I have something to blog about! Preferably hainan chicken rice-related (My favorite food in Singapore mmmm **More Homer drool sound**)
Thank you so much for reading! Now go do yourself a favor and get some garlic naan. You’re welcome.