We finally made it to Chennai last night (Tuesday) just past midnight. I didn't get to bed until about 2:00am and since I couldn't sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time on the plane rides, that meant I hadn't slept since Sunday night. Weird to think of it like that.
However, I woke up this morning after only 5 or so hours of sleep and felt pretty refreshed. Maybe I was just excited to talk to Cori and the kids via iChat video call. Modern technology is awesome and on the Mac, its even better. It was so great to talk and see Cori and the kids. I love you guys so much! :)
So the flight from Dallas to DC was pretty uneventful. Changed terminals, etc in DC pretty efficiently and met up with the rest of the traveling party - Alicia, Dave and Joe.
The trip from DC to Brussels was 9 hours and it went by pretty quickly thanks to in-flight movies and a good book. The plane was pretty big - a 747 I think - but the space between the rows was REALLY cramped. My knees hit the seat in front of me and my backpack didn't really fit under my seat. I was pretty surprised about this since when we flew American back in 2002 to London our seats/rows were very roomy. I guess United is different, or at least this particular plane was.
We arrived in Brussels at about 7:00am and got kinda lost trying to get to our next gate. We went through security 2 times, but it worked out well since we had plenty of time. For breakfast, I had a bottled water, a cellophane-wrapped waffle and a Stella Artois beer. They actually served beer at this little "starbucks-like" deli thing at the airport. Crazy! When in Rome ... :) The beer was pretty good but the waffle tasted like a Honey Bun and was way too sweet. Memorable, nonetheless.
The next part of the flight from Brussels to Chennai was on Jet Airways. Now that is a nice airline. I was really impressed. Even though we weren't in first class, we felt like it. Plus there was plenty of leg room and a state of the art video/audio system. A nice meal, too. I still couldn't sleep on that flight. I really tried, because I knew my body needed sleep, but its just really hard for me to sleep sitting up. Every time I dozed off a baby would cry or the plane would bump and I'd be jostled awake.
The itinerary says that it was a 9 hour flight from Brussels to Chennai. I guess that's technically correct, but my body clock knew different. We boarded the plane at 10:00am and got off the plane a little after midnight. I think my body clock calculated that as 14 hours and it felt every bit of it. I'm glad it was a much nicer plane, because it was a looooong flight.
The screen provided in front of every seat for watching movies also shows a map and some flying data like air speed, outside temperature, altitude, etc. The map was really interested because it showed several different views - from global level to a regional, zoomed-in view. That stuff is always interesting to me. I couldn't help feel a little uneasy as I noticed we were flying over Turkey, Iraq, Iran, the edge of Afghanistan and then Pakistan on our way to India.
When we got off the plane last night, we went down the steps directly onto the tarmac in the hazy, humid night air. The first thing I noticed was the smell. Things don't smell to good here. :)
Going through security and customs was easy and I'm thankful for that. Not a bad experience and it went quickly. As we walked out the airport to find our driver, all I saw were what seemed like thousands of people waiting just outside the doors and in the parking lot - people were everywhere. I wondered why so many people were at the airport at 1:00am. Getting from the front doors to our car and then out of the airport parking lot was like trying to leave Texas Stadium after a Cowboys game. Just so many people.
Two things I noticed as we were making our way to the car through the parking lot. Trash and honking. Litter is everywhere. Also, I heard more car horns honking in the first 3 minutes than I have in the past year in Texas. It seems like honking your horn in the U.S. is a last resort if you really need to get someone's attention. Here, its like all the cars are having a conversation as they go about the business of navigating the parking lots, byways and roads.
We finally made it to the hotel at around 1:45am last night. We're staying at the Courtyard by Marriott and it is very nice. I'm thankful for it, especially after seeing some of the places along they way from the airport.
I have a feeling my eyes are going to be opened to how much we really have in the U.S. Everyone already knows we have a lot compared to other countries, but I don't think I realize the scope of that yet. I got a taste of it last night and I'm sure that will expand. My heart is already full of thankfulness.
Right now its Wednesday morning. We're not going into the office until close to noon today, so I've got time to catch up on emails and do this. :)
Today will be the first real day in India. Looking forward to seeing how it goes and at the same time, I'm already longing for home.