Category: India, 2019

Planning and Getting Half Way There

Oct 16-17.

It doesn’t quite take three days to get there, but it almost feels as if it does. We leave on Wednesday night, fly through London and will arrive in Bangalore (Bengaluru) early Friday morning. As is usually the case, we plan these trips so far in advance that when they actually arrive, it’s almost a surprise.

I had been to Northeast India last fall on a trip that Carol did not join me on. which you’d know if you’d followed the blog last year, as you should have. It’s actually not too late to read about it now, if you want to go back to last year’s blog, but you won’t, will you?

Anyway, that was a great trip and I returned home to tell Carol that she’d have loved it, and that we should go this year. There’s a big festival that I attended and wanted Carol to experience. The festival dates change from year to year. This year, they conflicted with our grandson Max’s 7th birthday. This would not have been a problem for me and, for Max, it would have meant another birthday celebration. But Carol wasn’t buying it, so I lost my 823rd consecutive tie vote.

I wrote to our fabulous Delhi travel agent, Shonali Datta,, to tell her that we couldn’t go this year, but we’d go in 2021, Shonali wrote back that she had some other ideas for us for this year. So, I asked her to send an itinerary, she did, we loved it, and here we are on the plane.

The plane, by the way, is a double-decker and we’re on the top deck, which would be really cool if I were, say, 65 years younger. We’re flying British Air, business class, and it’s actually not all that comfortable. In fact, to be honest, I generally pay no attention to the type of aircraft, but this one is the least comfortable damn plane I’ve ever ridden in. It’s the Airbus A380, so, if you have a choice, avoid it. We’ve eaten enough in the Business Lounge at O’Hare that I completely pass on dinner. Breakfast, just before landing, is okay.

An aside here on the value of a terrific travel agent. This morning I awoke to a notice that two flights we were taking within India had been canceled, and the airline was no longer flying those routes. Imagine how you’d feel getting that notice on the day you are leaving if you’d “had the fun of” or “saved money by” booking the trip yourself. Now imagine getting the notice from your travel agent and, in the same email, being told here is how we’ve solved the problem for you (hired you a driver to another city and booked you on a flight from there to your destination).

India is one of my absolute favorite destinations. It’s Foreign, with a capital F, interesting and overwhelms all of the senses. To me, only Africa rivals it. Carol and I first went there in November, 2006 and this will be my fifth and Carol’s third trip there. Aside from my trip last Fall, mentioned above, I spent four or five days there without Carol when I went to Bhutan for the second time, in April, 2010.

We’ve not been to any of the places we’re going on this trip, but we know that the itinerary Shonali has planned includes widely diverse experiences ranging from leopards to shepherds (she told us that one area we were going to was famous for both of those). I won’t try to summarize the different types of experiences built into our itinerary, but let you experience the diversity of the trip as we encounter it, along the way.

We’re pretty experienced in these kinds of trips, so we tend to do what we do to prepare, and repeat it. This time, though, I’m trying three fairly significant changes.

First, I packed in a suitcase I can carry on so as not to have to check any luggage. One key to doing that is to plan to do laundry pretty-much everyplace we stay, which allows you to pack fewer changes of clothes. Generally hotel laundry is relatively expensive, but it certainly is not going to affect our overall trip cost materially. And launderers need to live, too, y’know. Actually, I wound up checking the suitcase for this leg of the trip. We packed a large box with six copies of our book, WHERE THE SACRED DWELLS, NAMASTE, for distribution to people on this trip and, as long as we needed to check that, I checked my bag, too. But I won’t on other legs.

The other thing that will allow me to pack in less space is a big change for me. I bought the new iPhone 11, and have decided that that will be my camera for this trip. They’ve improved things so much that, after discussions with my friend and photographer pro, Nick Sinnott, I’ve concluded that I’m unlikely to be losing much by using just the iPhone. And that fits SOOOOOO well with my general laziness gene. We’ll see how it goes. If I find I miss it, I can always go back to taking my camera and lenses on my next trip. But I’m thinking and hoping that this is the right decision for me at this point in my “career”. You can play around quite a bit with photographing on the iPhone 11. Here’s a shot of our takeoff from Chicago.

And the final change is prompted by the fact that on a couple fairly recent vacations, I’ve tripped and fallen. I can, of course, explain these as aberrant, insignificant events. And I do. But old farts fall. And they sometimes hurt themselves. Badly. So, I’m taking walking sticks, something that friends have recommended to me for years, to compensate for the fact that we humans are not really meant to walk on two legs. I’ve tried out the sticks in Lincoln Park, and I think they’ll really help with balance. Though this means more to pack, they’re collapsible, and so can fit into carry-on luggage.

Carol and I both have had really nasty coughs for weeks that we’ve been unable to shake.  We’ve both been to the doctor and had tests that have not revealed anything useful.  We’re hoping to get rid of them soon.  Otherwise, I told Carol, we could become the first Reconstuctionist Jews to have our ashes spread on the Ganges.  She didn’t seem to think that was funny.  Poor girl has VERY little sense of humor.  But I’m going to continue to work on that.

Since we have a couple hours in London with access to the Business Lounge, I’m going to post this now, and leave you in doubt as to whether we make it to India. If we do make it, I’m hoping that this blog will become a lot more interesting to you. And to me.


4 comments to Planning and Getting Half Way There


    Have a great trip.

  • Wendy Snell

    Great changes, Dadz, especially the walking sticks!!

  • kay m osborne

    Have a great trip, Arnie and Carol, I’m in for the ride.

  • Phoebe Snell

    That’s a cool photo from the plane–the lights in the background sort of look like sparks coming off of the plane! It’s great that you’re bringing the walking sticks and it’s cool that you’re using the iPhone 11 instead of having to lug around a big ol’ camera.


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