Dec 6th 2018,
I departed from Manchester at 9:30am arriving into Mumbai Airport at 1:00 am (6:30 pm GMT) with a 12-hour layover on top of my shoulders. Not pleasant to say the least, but it was exciting to feel on the move again- like I felt just a few months ago when I traveling South East Asia. The sun was blazing, and the temperature outside was hot 30 degrees; humid, hot, sticky; ironically refreshing, atleast for someone who’d just left the dismal temperatures of the cold UK Winter-time.
With nothing much to do but sleep (at least attempt to sleep) my first motive was to try and somewhere to nap; only there’s only so much sleep you can achieve reclined on a metal seat in India’s biggest (and possibly noisiest) airport. I quickly came to realise that I was going to have a bad night sleep and that I would face the consequences the next day. And so an all-nighter was on the cards.
The best part of any long lay-over is being able to walk around the airport in your slacks without the foggiest of care of what you look like; the only time when you can look your worst without anyone batting an eyelid. With Starbucks open 24/7 and the guarantee of Free Wi-fi that Starbucks Ltd has planted in your head, I was excited at the thought of sitting down with a Soy Milk Latte and responding to messages from people back at home. Only diverting away from the airports Wi-Fi payments plans was a big no no for the Starbuck’s at Mumbai Airport and so my mission was half-satisfactory; bringing me instead to rant about it via this WordPress blog. With no WiFi, sleep or familiar food, I boarded the plane to Madurai with the hope to achieve a little snooze.
Madurai airport, arrival time 14:35. No passport checks, no security procedure, first to claim baggage, I walked out of the airport feeling relieved and fatigued; sleep being the first thing that crept to mind. A lengthy taxi ride, the sound of horns, no indicators, undertaking, stray dogs, cows, aggression; chaos. I was definitely not in the UK. It was going to take a few days to adjust.
Hello’s, shower, nap; I then had a sit-down meal with Sid’s family who were so attentive and welcoming. Feeling exhausted and in some ways perplexed at finding myself sat at a dinner table halfway across the world in not so much as a day, it was here that I realised that I was a long way from home; and I couldn’t help but think about my family at this moment. All that said, I was looking forward to seeing what this trip had installed and I was happy to embark on another trip overseas- this time for over 6 months.
It was great to see and eat Indian cuisine in its real form- different types of crockery and versions of things I’d had at home; the real thing. Spicey, meaty, mix and matchy. It was delicious. Pictures were not on the cards this time (for etiquette reasons) but it was perfect.
I then met Sid’s two cousins Shaktirupa and Gargee, who told me a great deal about Indian culture; food, fashion, music etc, and who also shared my passion for food and singing! They were the same age as me and so it was lovely to spend time with them.
In the evening, we decided to venture on to the rooftop of the house, over-looking Madurai’s night-sky. Clear, dozens of stars, light breeze; alien to any December night in the UK. Still exhausted- here-there-and-everywhere- the conversation going in all sorts of directions- myself feeling more content to listen. One thing I remember is thinking how unbelievably grateful I was to be there- with these people, for Nam’s wedding.
It was a wonderful introduction to India.
Amazing – in every sense of the word.