Day 1 (or night, rather) in India
September 19, 2013… or is it still September 18?
I’m sitting outside Kolkata airport in the warm, sticky breeze. It’s 1am and the lovely BJS workers who were supposed to pick me up with a welcome sign are nowhere to be found. I walked up and down the line of people inside the arrivals terminal. Nope. Then I walked outside where I spotted a few men holding little white, printed signs like the one that was supposed to bear my name. Nope. I continue looking as I turn down offers from taxi drivers. The staring wasn’t as bad as I expected for a lone white girl at the airport in the middle of the night, but I tried hard to look like I had a purpose; and I clung to my belongings for dear life. Thankfully the CEO of BJS, the partner I’d be working for, emailed me pictures and phone numbers of the two gents who were assigned to pick me up. It was time to break out the phone.
I called the first number and someone picked up. “Hello, this is Shelley Graner from Kiva. I’m at the airport.” In labored English the man on the other end said, “Oh, um, you come tomorrow”. “No, I’m here now at the Kolkata airport,” I replied, not at all encouraged by his response. “But you arrive tomorrow.” This today/tomorrow conversation went back and forth for a few minutes until he said, “I call you in 10 minutes”. So I cop a squat on one of the benches outside the terminal, watching it empty of people. I see a stray dog cross the street as I survey my surroundings and ponder the situation, surprisingly calm. Somehow I know it’ll be ok. The man called back and said he was either coming or not coming- I couldn’t understand at first. Again it was a few minutes of back and forth before my fate started to become clear.
“Should I take a taxi?” I ask.
“Coming to airport. Wait.”
“You’re coming here?”
“Yes, coming there.”
“Ok, great! How long?”
“30 minutes? Ok! I will wait. I’m at door C3.”
“Ok, I find you, madam.”
20 minutes go by and I start to wonder if 30 minutes REALLY means 30 minutes. Or if it’s like the 30 minutes you’re quoted by the airline when there’s a boarding delay, which turns into another 30 minutes, and then another until three hours have passed. It’s a good thing I slept on the plane and am not falling asleep out here. I’m really hoping these dudes show up.
About 15 minutes later they show up in a cab, looking much like their photos (only slightly more tired). They are overly apologetic, and I explain that dates can be confusing in the middle of the night. Is it 1am the day before or the day after? I was just thankful to be whisked away from the airport and safely tucked into my guesthouse. They say they’ll collect me at noon tomorrow and bring me to the office.
After about 4 hours of sleep, my body woke me at 6am local time, which makes absolutely no sense because that’s 5:30pm at home- not exactly my get up and go time. And I’m tired, yet not able to fall back to sleep. Jetlag is a bitch.