First impressions of a staff member in India 11/14/13
At last, all the warnings have made sense, smog! We’ve arrived at New Delhi airport. After minor delays, and the airport staff finally finding a set of airplane stairs that will cooperate - we are allowed off the plane and welcomed by the crisp yet dense air of India. New Delhi airport welcomed MDI staff with open arms, complete with a member of the hotel staff to get us from A to B without any issues. Hotel/airport staff dressed in green button up shirts and kaki pants, and airport police in olive green and red uniform with - shoulder slung guns? Quite the surprise! The first time comforts of the modernized airport hotel were a blessing, and then after only 4 hours sleep, we’re off to Dehradun.
No wake up call? Quick, up and out, and back to the airport. After a small bit of good karma, were ready! Boarding passes checked, Security scan - checked, and were back waiting in the terminal for take off. It is here that we met Lama Tenzin, with a smile as always.
Look out the windows Lama says - on the left is the City of Dehradun, the right is the Large Forrest. The plane is landing - Dehradun welcomes you! The final wait for luggage and then were on our way to see a new world. Sunlight! Lama says he’s missed this “smell of India.” Off to meet our ride to the CED. We received a welcome gift as we quickly loaded our luggage into the G.I.F.T. van. Beautiful cream silk scarves were wrapped around us monk hugs were exchanged in gratitude of meeting us on our arrival.
Honk honk! Vroom, Honk, Brakes!!! The ride to the state of Uttarakland is intense to say the least. Lama says this is the main highway, its shared for everyone. In the eyes of a new-comer it seemed like China Town, only with its own little twist. Off to the left stacks of bricks, walking families, school kids and cows, scooters whizzing by as the honk. Off to the right in the hallowed out or nearly built structures were shops filled with furniture, rugs, helmets and goggles, concrete supplies, produce, and much much more. Vendors pushed carts down the shared highway for selling of their individualized crops. Oh, and let’s not forget about the monkeys! Lama not missing a beat, decided to pick up the senior grade children from their school before bringing us to the hotel. Welcome, hi’s, and nice to meet you’s were all exchanged with a monk hug or hand shake as the children climbed aboard giggled and took their seats. The children talked amongst themselves, as all the anticipation of meeting us was finally over and we arrived. A short ride yet intense car ride and we’ve arrived at the hotel. The children jump out to assist with bringing our luggage inside. Shown up to our room, not what Dr. LaFleur expected. A small one room in the middle of the 2nd floor. Not nearly as modern as the earlier one, but it will do. Extra blankets requested, as the room was chilly, and settling begins, leaving just enough time for a nap. Lama ensures us that he will be back to pick us up, as the children are expecting us to join them for dinner.
All this chatter and no mention of food? Acclimation was made slowly during travel, but noticeable as we arrived closer to our destination. Airlines welcomed us with our choice of drinks (from water, tea, and juice to wine, beer, and spirits) as well as a choice of 2 hot meals for each course each flight. Pasta and broccoli with cheese, bread and butter, salad and cinnamon cake made our way into Heathrow. Chicken Filet with mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables for dinner on our way to Dehradun. Breakfast, already, (yes, I too forgot about the time change) a traditional Nan wrap filled with lamb and seasoned vegetables, side of chickpea salad, raisins, a roll with butter, hot tea, bottled water (comes plentiful- no worries about water) and a chocolate caramel moose for dessert. Your typical chain shops are available at the airports, so no need for worry if you want Starbucks coffee, Mc Donald's, KFC, etc. We also have more then enough chocolate with us thanks to Dr. Lafleur - just incase, and boy its been handy!
After a few interesting stops, and wonderfully interesting conversation with one of the first children we met, Soonam, we’ve arrived at the CED. After being served hot tea, and meeting and socializing with Penpa (including singing, her alphabet, and numbers, as well as some english speaking), the children at CED made a delicious welcoming dinner for Lama and us. A bowl of eggplant, yogurt with puff wheat, chili tomatoes, soup, steamed bread rolls and a banana was enough to fill us up the first night - our first vegetarian meal.
We took a couple of great photos, and said good night to the children as they ate in the hall. Smiles on their faces as they waved good night, shouting see you tomorrow.