"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, December 26, 2014

The India Journals, Ch. 1: A Hitch in the Git-along

Ch. 1:   A Hitch in the git-along

If you are going through hell, keep going.—Winston Churchill

It is with some apprehension that I approach the departure day for a trip to India, a country I have never visited and which seems quite mysterious to me.   What has me nervous isn’t India’s mystery.   I look forward to exploring that.

No, what has me troubled are all the stumbles and mulligans and pratfalls involved in signing up for this voyage.  They are:

1.      The trip offered a pre-extension to Kathmadu, Nepal.   That definitely that got my attention.   Except, it isn’t available on my departure date and subsequent departures are sold out.

2.     The single supplement wasn’t available either as someone had already taken it.   Vantage Travel offers one free single supplement for most of their trips.  It means a person traveling alone does not have to pay double, as in “based on double occupancy.”

3.     As a solo traveler, I could not book the lower-cost cabin for the week we will spend on a riverboat.    $$$!

4.     I asked if it were possible for me to fly from the West Coast to New Delhi, rather than flying to the East Coast to get to India.   I was assured I could.  I like letting the travel company make my air reservations because it’s so much easier, and having them do it means all airport transfers are included in the price and any problems will be solved by the guides.

5.     When my air itinerary was e-mailed to me, it had me flying from Seattle to JFK in New York, overnighting there, then flying to India the next day.   When I contacted the company that does the flight itinerary, I was told that flying from the West Coast was impossible because I would get there after the boat left.   What?

6.     “After the boat left?”   What was that?   The program itinerary said we were to stay in Delhi, recover from all that time in the air, and tour around there for two weeks.  Then we would fly to Kolkata (Calcutta) for a week-long cruise on the Ganges River.  Ah, but it turns out the itinerary will run in reverse on my departure.   So, after flying 3-1/2 hours to Seattle one day, overnighting, flying 5-1/4 hours to JFK, overnighting, and flying 14 hours overnight to New Delhi, I get to get on another airplane and fly 2 hours to Kolkata.   Aren’t I lucky?   Will I still be able to walk?  Will I be conscious?

7.     Then there was the visa that India requires.   Again, this is subbed out to Generations Visa, a company that has handled my visa requirements in the past.  I filled out the form and mailed my passport with the required documentation.  Then I got a message stating the company needed something with my street address, like a utility bill.  All my bills had my mailing address—a post office box.

8.     By the time I found something with my street address that was acceptable, the embassy had already approved my visa.  

9.     Besides me, only one other person signed up for a four day post-extension to Varanasai, so Vantage canceled it, requiring me to change my return ticket from Seattle back to Anchorage and change my hotel reservation in Seattle.   By this time, I was beyond expecting everything to flow smoothly, so all this did was mess with my composure.

So, yeah, I’m walking on egg shells here, waiting for the next hitch in the git-along.   In the meantime, please don’t tell Pablo I’m packing my suitcase or that he and Julie will be having some quality time together while I’m gone.

PS:   About that seven day trip on a riverboat?   It's billed as brand new for 2015.   Would my trip be its maiden voyage?   What could possibly go wrong?

Don't pay too much attention to this as everything changed (see above), but it gives you an idea.


  1. I got stressed just reading this...how on earth would I ever survive a trip should I ever decide to...which isn't likely. I'll do it through your photos and stories. Bon Voyage friend!

  2. Making travel plans and dealing with all the complications is only for the strong-willed. You definitely qualify. I do empathize with you regarding the disruptions to your composure that you are experiencing. I've been thinking of you often lately, excited about your quickly approaching adventure. I'll be praying that all goes well in every aspect of your trip from this point forward. Or at least, that you are seldom challenged beyond your comfort zone..

  3. I have to chuckle, a little ... you are already experiencing the vagaries of India! Knowing what an intrepid traveler you are however, I think you are going to love this trip. We are anxiously awaiting its beginning and hearing your reports along the way. Namaste. Patti and Cap

  4. As rightly put by Kaps, you are getting prepared for India. There are lot of things which can go wrong when you are dealing with 1 bn+. But you will love it for sure. Please do not expect perfection but do expect a funfilled experience - novel one which cannot be planned. To enjoy that take it c(k)ool as we Indians say that everything that happens is planned by one of our 33000+ God/Godesses.
    Swagatam (welcome) to India
    - one of billion+ Indian

    1. Thank you, Prakashak. I'm looking forward to exploring your country and its culture.

  5. I always fly from the West Coast to India. ALWAYS .. I NEVER book with anyone but the airlines. Well one time I flew NYC to DeGaul to New Delhi. Well one time I booked with Orbitz. So don't tell me you can't fly to India from the West Coast. NONSENSE. Via Hong Kong .. then to Kolkata (Calcutta) .. Will look forward to this adventure with you .. You are off and running .. Cap in Hong Kong ..

  6. I'm reading Chapter 1 long after your safe return from this adventure. Even so, my foot is twitching like a cat's tail reading the gory details. You certainly know how to build suspense for the story!

    p.s. I'm not a robot. I'm your old friend from online writing class, Beth.