To sum up my first impressions of India in one word it would be “Mental”. After now being in India for nearly 3 weeks now I have started to adapt to the madness of it all. But let me tell you a crazy story about my very first day.
After a house sitting for a year in Thailand I was ready for some serious traveling adventures. Flew from Bangkok landing in Kolkata (Calcutta) airport with my girlfriend and we set off on an adventure to get to a hotel and get settled. I don’t know why but for some reason I did it all a little different than I usually would. Normally, when landing in a country that I have never visited before I would always book a room in advance for at least the first night. This time I only had the name of the train station closest to the airport and the plan was to get a bus from the airport to there, (I always try to avoid taxis from airport’s as they’re usually a rip off and rather my first experiences of a country be traveling with the locals rather than potentially being cheated) then head to Sudder Street area (backpacker central where all the cheap hotels and tourist information places are). Get a room, get our bearings and figure out how to get myself connected to the internet. The journey from the airport went smoothly and we soon arrived at Sudder Street (sort of like Thailand’s Khaosan Road), not my ideal place to stay but a good easy start rather than jumping straight off the tourist track.
This is where it all started to go slightly weird, I’d heard about the tourist touts and was saying “No thank you” alot as we battled round looking for a decent guest house to drop our bags and get showered and relax. Many of the hotels and guest houses were full so when we did find one that had rooms we went for it. The hotel was an old British built building with really high ceilings and after checking in we were lead to our room by this tiny old Indian midget guy who was about 3ft tall, dropped our bags and quick freshen up. The missus wanted a little sleep whilst I went out to figure out the internet situation.
After just 2 hours, I had worked it all out and had set myself up with a usb dongle thing that I could plug straight into my laptop and apparently good speed internet 24/7. I’d have to test it out for a day or so to actually believe it but I was very proud of myself and was almost dancing back to my room punching the air with satisfaction that I was fully connected within hours of landing in India.
I got back to the room opened the door and was hit by this strong smell of some sort of thinners or gasoline and the missus sitting on the bed not looking happy. “What the hell is that smell”, I said. She explained that because of the noise of the traffic outside she had closed the window, as it was wide open when we first arrived and that she could smell gasoline and figured that it was coming from the traffic outside.
After trying to work it out for 10 minutes I said, “Right, we’re not havin this” and went to grab a hotel staff to get them to sort it out or at least put us in another room.
By this time I was starting to spin out a little bit (and the missus was pretty much tripping) from inhaling the fumes and when the little 3ft tall hotel guy came to our room with really high ceiling (about 20ft) it was all starting to feel a little bit like Alice in wonderland. Just to make it even weirder the little Indian hobbit guy was armed with a supersize (about 1ft tall) can of air freshener. He sprayed the room and told us that we must keep the window open.
“Eh? So the smell is in the room then?” I said,
The little guy replied “Yeah, we use Paraffin to kill the bed bugs”
After being left very confused and shocked by it all, we quickly checked out of that hotel and found another place, which turned out to be really nice and was actually cheaper but, most importantly didn’t smell of Paraffin.
Incredible India !?! What a bizarre first day.
Jump in the comments below and let me know…
Have you been to India ? Got any tips, must see places, or weird experiences to share?
If you have not visited India, does it appeal to you ? Probably not after reading this