It’s 6:42 in the morning. With an almost audible dub-dub in my temple I rubberneck at a smart Samsung digital radio clock at my bedstead, like a bull giving his matador a second glance in amazement after a deadly shot. Dafuk! Who set this ghastly alarm? When did I buy a radio clock? How come there’s a huge French window in my room? It usually doesn’t rain so hard around this time of the year. Nice palm trees. Wait a minute... this is not my home. This can’t be Delhi either. I was supposed to catch a flight at midnight. Holy shit, it’s happening... I’m 2,793 air miles away from home. Dude, I’m in TAIWAN!
TERMINAL 3, IGI AIRPORT, NEW DELHI
I’ve been here several times before but never to satisfy the third ‘I’ of the IGI acronym that stands for ‘International’ in my booking itinerary. This is gonna be my maiden travel over the multiracial waters. I’m finally going to lose my international voyage virginity. Multiple assorted packets of excitement have already risen and exploded in my chest like Diwali flower pots on a moonless night sky. And I’ve only reached the fourth fold in the serpentine queue for the immigration counter. All my documents are neatly arranged in the folder in my hand. Had I only been as meticulous as this during my job interviews I would probably be much better off? More flower pots explode as I kiddy walk forward.
Most of the seats in the plane are occupied by South East Asians. I eye some Indians scattered like peas in an Indian Dhaba-peas-pulao, and randomly select the cream of the lot to be my trip buddies in my head. It’s a long flight and the screen before me reassures that it will be entertaining. I choose a Chinese drama with English subtitles to set the mood and check if the short online week-long course in Mandarin that I’d taken up right before my day of travel was any good. 15 minutes later at around 30,000 ft above the terrestrial Earth, I’m snoring my way to the East: the land where, they say, the sun rises.