“Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your Purser speaking. I’m sorry to disturb you, but a section of the plane has lost…”
Oh no! Adrenaline surge. Mind racing. What has it lost? – a wheel perhaps, or an engine, or one of the flappy bits off the wings?
“…has lost its entertainment system. In order to fix this, we will need to reboot the entire system which will take around 30 minutes. During this time you will not be able to watch movies.”
Panic over, but given that most people are very apprehensive about flying in the first place, cabin crew really do need to be ultra-precise in their choice of words and more importantly the order in which they are said! Apart from the entertainment crisis (a first-world problem!), our KLM flight from Amsterdam Schipol to Delhi Indira Gandhi on a Boeing 747-400 passed uneventfully.
Our next challenge was to find ourselves a taxi to the hotel, at two in the morning. We dodged the touts and headed for the prepaid taxi booth run by Delhi police. Having paid our fixed fee into the centre, we then handed our voucher to the first marked taxi waiting at the rank. Suitcases stowed, we climbed in and fastened our seatbelts. Or would have, had there been any! “Ok, when in Rome”, I thought, and we decided to make the best of it and hold on tight. Just how tight, we were to find out within minutes of leaving the rank. It seems there are very few rules for traffic to follow in India. ‘Drive mostly on the left’ is a useful starting point. The main driving technique involves plenty of use of the horn, and aiming to fill any gap in front before someone else does. Indicators and mirrors (where still fitted) are purely for ornamentation. As are the white lines marking lanes. In the UK, a three-lane motorway is precisely that, because there are three lanes marked. In Delhi, it becomes five lanes wide with some traffic straddling the white lines instead of driving within them. Only the occasional cow in the road breaks this mayhem, causing everyone to slow down and swerve around it (with much honking of horns!)
About 30 minutes later, we arrived at our base for the next few days – the Radisson Blu Marina Hotel in Connaught Place. Typically clean and functional rooms as you would expect from any of the economy international chains. Brilliant location in the heart of central New Delhi, and within a couple of hundred metres walk from the nearest Metro station at Rajiv Chowk in the middle of Connaught Circus. Nevertheless, we thought it was rather overpriced and poor value for what was on offer. Dined in their restaurant on a couple of evenings, but found the quality of the food preparation and the level of service was inconsistent. Good food attentively served one evening; undercooked food and disinterested staff another evening. Ate elsewhere after that experience!
Tomorrow (well, later today given the time of our arrival), our first exploration of New Delhi!