Okay, so now we are feeling guilt of another vice. Luxury. Is that a bad one? We were picked up at the Delhi airport by a tour representative from "World Spree", the company we booked through in March. Ramu took over my cart and pushed it out of the airport chattering away about how welcome we are in his beautiful city (which is in fact so thick with smog that it is almost hard to see across the street). He led us to the car park where we climbed into a luxurious AC cooled vehicle with comfy bucket seats, explaining the rules of India to us: don't drink tap water, dress conservatively (ladies with legs covered and a shawl or scarf to cover the head when appropriate), (obviously, Brian says, there are no rules for men, because he was wearing shorts, flip flops, and a short sleeved shirt, and that was just fine according to Ramu), keep your mouth closed in the shower, brush your teeth with bottled water, drink lots of bottled water to stay hydrated, etc.
Delhi has 18.5 million people. We will have a tour tomorrow after the rest of the group arrives later tonight from North America and other locations. Now we are at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which sounds like a three star back home, but turns out to be a five star here! He takes care of check in for us, getting the keys, setting up our wifi, making sure we have the tour leader's phone number for tomorrow, while we lounge, having a 'welcome' drink of chilled apple juice provided by a silent lackey.
He leaves to return to pick up others at the airport and we are escorted to our room overlooking a large pool. We have a king bed, remote controlled blinds, a huge flat screen, a lounge sofa, and a mega bathroom with separate glass rooms for shower, toilet, sink, and a huge modern bathtub, beside a monster window looking into the bedroom with more remote controlled blinds. A refreshing swim and I'm over any jet lag. Feeling good!
Just a couple of notes: our ride from the hotel in Mumbai to the airport took all of about 5 minutes, as compared to the hour it took us when we arrived. As our hotel concierge so nicely put it, "they took you for a ride" when you got to Mumbai. At the airport this time we rearranged our baggage and put the heavy locks and soap into our backpacks, so our weight for baggage was "just perfect" according to the check in attendant, and the tea and pens that looked suspicious in the Goan airport passed muster in my backpack in the Mumbai airport. So we avoided both the extra inspections and the extra weight charges that plagued us in Goa.
Meanwhile, waiting in the Mumbai airport, some dozey lady came along with her carry on luggage, sat down two seats over from us for a minute, then got up and disappeared, leaving her bag behind. We waited for five minutes then pointed it out to the Indian Airlines desk attendant, who merely stated that it had gone through security already, so not to worry. If it had been in North America, it would have been secured, taped off, tested for explosives, and we would have been evacuated. Another 3 minutes and Brian approached an army looking security guard and dragged him over to see the bag. He said the same thing. It's okay, it's gone through security already. I spoke up then and reminded them of 2007, and said "Boom!" He sauntered away, but about 3 minutes later, he returned with two other security guys in army uniforms who stood looking at it and talking. They took a couple of steps towards it, and just then the woman returned stating she had gone looking for 'pani' or water. Everyone settled down again.
The people sitting beside me on the plane were Indians living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who had lived longer in the US than in India. He was a nuclear scientist and we had a good chat about a book I had just finished called The Krishna Key, that dealt with nuclear fission and the Mahabharata, and whether Krishna was a myth or an actual living person. His wife said that she watched us in the waiting area dealing with the abandoned bag, and she too, was worried about it. She agreed that in the US that bag wouldn't have been allowed to stay unattended at all. They had come back to India for her mother's 100th birthday. I can't really fathom anyone living in Mumbai's heat, smog, and humidity until the age of 100!