Please Read Parts I – V
Sleep never came. I guess it was a combination of things. Nerves and the anticipation of what was ahead of us, second hand cigarette smoke and the tight seat.
If my calculations and limited memory are correct it was 2 or 3pm when we arrived in London and 8am at home. So by now it’s been about twenty-eight hours since our alarm clock went off, the morning of departure. World travel is second nature to some but for us at that stage in our life it was all new, exciting and unnerving.
I remember our approach into Heathrow International Airport. I looked out the window at the neighborhoods and found it quite amazing that I was looking down on the city of London. It wasn’t long before the airport and our runway were underneath us and I felt our large ship touch down. Most of the passengers onboard applauded when we landed. I wondered why. Were they so nervous about the flight that a safe landing deserved applause?
Our time in London would be short. There was no time for exploration and being green travelers we wouldn’t have ventured too far away anyway. I don’t remember the exact amount of time we were there. Somewhere between an hour and three I suppose. All passengers were unloaded so that the airplane could be cleaned, restocked and refueled. Our flight from London to Bombay would be aboard the same aircraft. We had come a long way but still had a very long way to go.
Back aboard the 747 and in our exact same seats in the smoking section we were off. Next stop, India.
Meal time on this Air India flight was interesting. First of all we were always asked, “meat or veg.” What? Meat! Many Indian’s are Hindu and because we were on an Air Indian flight the option was given. Hindu’s don’t eat meat. Of course Felicia and I always asked for meat which was always lamb. There were other vegetables and items on the tray that were definitely foreign to us but always delicious!
Our Flight to Bonbay would be about nine hours. The daylight portion of that flight was extremely interesting. On a large screen in the front of our cabin was a map. On the map was a line showing where we had come from and where we were, our altitude, speed and the outside temperature.
Germany, Turkey, Iraq and Afganistan were some of the countries we flew over. We flew between Baghdad and Tehran and I jokingly looked for missiles. We flew over miles and miles of snow capped mountains. It was beautiful. Darkness came and our view was gone. Bombay was getting closer. Still no sleep.
We talked with our seat companion Naresh a lot. He was a Indian native who was attending college in the United States. He was extremely interested as we talked about our reason for going to India. We talked about Jesus and His work on the cross but Naresh wasn’t ready to accept that to follow Jesus he must have only one God.
I quizzed Naresh as to what we should expect when getting to Bangalore and he prepared us by saying, “it will be like nothing you have ever seen in America.” He asked me about our transportation arrangements in Bangalore. I told him we were hiring a car and driver for our entire stay. “Good!” He said. When I suggested that I’d love to do some driving myself in India he laughed at me. ”You should not try driving in Bangalore. You have a car and driver, let him do the driving.” Not a big deal I thought. I was just making conversation.
When we touched down in Bombay (now Mumbai) the passengers applauded again. We taxied to a spot on the tarmac and stopped. No gate in sight the passengers began unloading. When we got to the door we realized that we wouldn’t be walking through an enclosed gangway to our gate. It was stairs to the ground where we boarded buses that took us to our gate.
I’m not sure what time it was. Trying to remember and piece the flight times and time changes together is confusing. I do know it was dark. When we walked into the airport Felicia and I just stuck close to our new Indian friend Naresh.
The airport terminal was old, smelly and looked as though either a bomb had gone off are there was some extensive demolition taking place and it was green. Everything was painted hospital green. The first thing I remember is that every person who worked in that part of the airport that night was in what looked like an army uniform and they were all men and they all had a rifle over their shoulders. Our first stop was a desk where we checked in with Passports and boarding passes and yes those behind the desk were men in uniforms with guns over their shoulders. I didn’t know if the uniforms and guns were supposed to make me feel safe or nervous. I was nervous and it was about to get worse.
We were given a gate number for our connecting flight to Bangalore and many of the passengers including Naresh were taking that flight. Walking to the gate I had my video camera out trying to get as much of this scene as I could. Felicia called to my attention a large sign that said “NO PHOTOGRAPHY.” I was willing to comply and quickly put my camera away but was suspicious. What were they hiding?
We followed the crowd through a door. Somehow I had managed to get in front of Felicia and Naresh. It was security. A belt that took the bags under the X-ray machine and more men in uniform with guns. One of those men began yelling at someone which got my attention. As i payed closer attention I was shocked to discover that the person he was yelling at was me.
With his hands on his gun which by the way was pointing at me he yelled. It wasn’t english. It was either Hindi or one of the six hundred dialects spoken in India. It didn’t matter. All that mattered is that this man with a gun seemed very angry at me and I didn’t know why.