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A sweet school girl in Varanasi
December 19th: On to Varanasi. It's Monday morning. Arose at 6:30 to pack and be ready to be picked up at 9AM. (The buffet breakfasts at the Imperial are great, and the setting is gorgeous.) As we entered the Delhi terminal, there was a huge black water buffalo literally at the entrance--looked like an airport mascot.

Our plane was suppose to take off at 11, but is now not taking off until 1PM. No smog today, but some other reason that no one seems to know. I heard that Indian Airlines (IA) never takes off on time. They may be right. It is a few minutes before we are suppose to take off and no one knows what the gate will be. The monitors show ads for motorcycles and only once in a while give you flight information. I've attached myself to an Indian businessman who is heading to Varanasi and we will get on whatever plane he gets on. I believe that IA must have won some contest for how many seats can fit on an Airbus 320. "Veg or non-veg" asks the flight attendant. I learned my lesson the hard way in China, and I no longer eat anything on non-western airlines. Maybe I'll change my mind in a week or so. It is so strange being offered full meals on flights of less than an hour. In the US you don't even get pretzels anymore. Indian Airlines female flight attendants wear saris. Their nice flat abdomens are showing. I am impressed at how well they navigate in these 6-yard garments. I don't think they are the best outfits for emergencies, but I'm not going there right now......

There are mostly Indians on the plane heading to the holy city. Very few westerners. Varanasi awaits--more later....No, wait. The airplane lands in Varanasi way too fast. The airplane slams hard down on the runway. The plane then careens to the left and over-corrects to the right. A few more rounds of left-rights and we finally straighten out. Oh, well, word has it if you die in Varanasi, you go straight to heaven without having to be reincarnated, so I guess it wouldn't be the worst place to end it all. Too bad I'm not a Hindu that believes in all this. That landing was just about the worst I have ever encountered. As we leave the plane I look into the cockpit and see a Sikh captain and we name him "Cowboy Bob." I will be on the lookout for him on future flights. (Note: the precious little girl in this photo just happened to walk by me and smile.)

Permalink | Posted by Patricia Pomerleau on Sunday, January 22, 2006