(This will be a very long post. You stand warned.)
First, from the travel journal.
17th April, 2008, International Airport, Mumbai
I love looking for omens before a trip. This time there have been two--a good one and a bad one. Do they cancel each other out? The good one is that the Singapore airport code is SIN, which pretty much is a message for me from the universe. I've decided if GOD wants it, how can it be wrong?
The bad one is that this airport has not a single bookshop past immigration. I can buy a hundred different cups of coffee but not a single book. Damn. I'm sticking to flying out of Delhi.
Since there are no bookshops, I'm journalling furiously and equally furiously (well, not ANGRY, but you know, rapid) sending text messages to everyone I can think of.
After a drink at the airport bar, I feel a lot more optimistic. It's 11.25 pm and I left my drink to come and board. And the gate's still closed. Sigh. Who are all these people? What are their stories? In front of me, two couples, one with a really ugly but kinda cute in a troll like way baby, single male passengers, six, no, eight, three old ladies, FOUR old ladies, one "mixed" couple--blonde boy and Asian girl. Woman in burqah (ooh, gate's opening!) two little girls and their mother (there'll be kids on this flight. Please keep them far far FAR away from me.) one woman in hijab, unfortunate looking sister and brother, their mother's better looking, so clearly the dad had more to do with their genetic coding, woman in bright pink pinstriped shirt carrying a briefcase, MORE old women, maybe it's like a holiday for them, troll baby's crying now, two burqahs, tall blonde couple, tall old man, ooh, cute boy! (Let me be near a cute boy, no, wait, quite tired. Let me be near a cute boy on my way back) more blonde couples, sheikh type dudes, another cute boy, no, I think it's the same one, boring, boring, boring, kid with spiky hair, REALLY ugly woman, man, there are unattractive people here today, boring, okay, time to board.
Why we were there in the first place
My hotel was most fancy, you can check it out here. Sadly, I didn't manage to take advantage of any of the facilities and only had ONE of their excellent buffet breakfasts, a fact that now at 12.14 in my hot little room with my stomach grumbling, I'm beginning to regret. I landed at around 7 am (5 am India time) and proceeded to stay up for the next, oh, fourteen to sixteen hours. (How DOES she do it, I hear you asking. COFFEE. RED BULL. MINIMAL FOOD. Coz food makes you sleepy.) All the same, I had to make sure I wasn't sitting down for more than fifteen minutes because then it was just la-la land.
I met the other bloggers on the panel--Daryl and Victor and Kenny. Et moi, representing Indian Womanhood and India In General and Young Adults and People Who Like To Pah-tay. That's quite a few labels. It was quite a hardcore IT conference, and I was actually rather surprised that they asked me at all. I mean, I'm fun and all, but I didn't think my blog was exactly... topical. Oh well. Another nice thing was that no one in the audience had read my blog so I was able to be completely myself without any odd, tripping up questions. I got quite a few laughs and people came up to me afterwards saying they'd like to read it, so I wrote down the URL on several pieces of paper. I really need to get business cards made.
Anyhoo, the good news is, I'm finally getting the hand of this panel discussion stuff.
It's the scout!
Tearful reunion happened. In the midst of a room full of IT people, we squealed and giggled and talked very rudely in Hindi to each other (rudely, because it excluded everyone else, not because we were saying mean things. That happened later.) I chugged down my last glass of wine, got a refill and together we skippety-hopped up to my (smoking) room on the 27th floor, where we did a general gab fest and catch up and then I got dressed so we could get out of there.
Dipso meets dipso
Really, did you think it WOULDN'T be a drunken weekend? This is me. And scout. Possibly the two bloggers whose content is MOSTLY "So, I was out last night and got very drunk.."
After we left the hotel we went down to the business district which was pretty close by and to this place called Barrio (China, was it?) to meet two of scout's friends, one, the very famous and fabulous Aurora (ooh and we got to do the "oh my god, it's such a small world!" conversation which it seems I shall never escape, even in foreign countries) and another friend, whose name on scout's blog I have forgotten, so I'll just call her Katy.
We had some more drinks and it was my first experience with the whole not-smoking-at-bars thing, which in theory, I guess sounds like a great idea. I mean, you smoke less and all. But in practice, you're smoking just as much as you would, only there's a new annoyance factor involved in getting up and leaving the table. Man, smokers are like lepers these days. Good ol' polluted India. This is why I'm never moving.
After mini-pizzas at Barrio, we moved to the girls house, which is HUGE by Bombay or even Delhi standards and also on the ground floor. Most young people who live alone, in India at any rate, get the nosebleed floor, so that was surprising.
I almost passed out at their house despite vodka and TV, and so there had to be a practical arm lift to get me out of there. We went to Clarke Quay, a name I love because I love the word 'quay' and I kept rolling it around in my mouth. Quay, quay, quay. I wish we had a quay. I'd totally go every day just so I could tell the rickshaw guy 'Quay'.
Okay, now I'm actually tired and I have other stuff to do. More in the next post!