Departed Toronto in -8 celcius weather. It was a short flight to Montreal with no delays. Then a quick layover and off to Paris in the Premium Economy class. The food was quite good and flight very smooth. No window seat though, so no pictures to post.
In Paris I had a longer layover (4 hours) due to a delay at the airport because of very strong winds. The winds were so strong that the plane was shaking when standing still on the runway.
After a 9 hour flight I finally landed in Delhi. It was almost midnight, but it was still really hot. The heat hit you right as you exited the plane.
I was met by Smitha at the airport which was super busy. There were tons of people with cards waiting for arriving visitors. I was driven to the hotel, took a shower after 24 hours of travelling and went to sleep for a few hours (it was 2:30 am and we were all meeting at 6:00 am to catch the train to Ludhiana).
Woke up before 6am to get ready and head down to meet the team. This was the first time I got to meet everyone face to face. It was quite exciting. Everyone was in good spirits and ready to go.
We headed to the train station in cabs, and it only took a few minutes to get there. Once there “coolies” or porters carried our luggage to the train.
The train ride to Ludhiana took around 4 hours and it was a comfortable ride. We were served chai, and a meal. Once in Ludhiana we once again took cabs to the hotel we would call home for the next month – Fortune Park Klassik. The hotel is very nice and we were welcomed with a glass of juice and fresh flower garlands. We met our local consultant Jaspreet with whom we headed out to lunch in our first auto-rickshaw ride!
In the evening we walked to an area near by where there are shops and ATMs so that we can buy necessities and take out money. By the end of the day we were beat, so we called it a night. Tomorrow – we go to Chandigarh.
This morning at our hotel we met up with Ms. Mamtha Sharma – Head of CSR India and headed to the Bharti Foundation office for a meeting with the CEO Mr. Vijay Chadda, and the VP Ms. Mamta Saikia. It turns out the Mr. Vijay has been in Toronto before for some time, so he is familiar with the it and we chatted about it a bit. Then we got right into our scaled down presentation so that we can finish in around an hour. We managed to and the meeting went very well. Everyone we have met at Bharti Foundation has been very professional and a pleasure to work with. This presentation was the final part of our project…. almost. Since we kept making adjustments to the final presentation and received tons of great feedback up to the last day we still have to adjust our overall project document and provide it along with the presentations. Hopefully we will be able to get this done in the next few days. Bernardo is flying out today, and Alessandra tomorrow morning. We had lunch at the office, then said our good byes to the Bharti team and Ms. Mamtha and departed for Bloomrooms in Delhi.
We arrived there, checked in, and went to Dilli Haat (an outdoor market) so that Bernardo and Alessandra can get some last minute shopping done. On the way back we took the metro!! It was really nice although somewhat crowded.
Once back at Bloomrooms we waited for the rest of the team to arrive from Ludhiana. The arrived around 11pm and we all had a celebratory final drink on the terrace said our final goodbye to Bernardo and Eduardo who left for the airport, and to Alessandra, Pierre and Cristian and Shruti who were leaving very early next morning. The rest of us stayed as we will be doing some touring. We will all meet up at points, and hopefully maybe even Peter.
It turns our that Holi is on the 16th in Kathmandu, and on the 17th in Delhi. My last full day in Kathmandu (Monday) I spent mostly walking around the town, dropping off laundry, sending postcards, etc. I met up with Cathy and Rick and their friends who are originally from Quebec City for dinner and we enjoyed a few beers back at their hotel restaurant.
Tuesday morning I picked up the laundry (and later discovered that I got some extra pairs of socks and a tshirt which is not mine), packed up and left for the airport.
Back in Delhi I met up with Anneliese and Wu for dinner, also picked up my train tickets for Jaisalmer, and booked a hotel. Anneliese left for the airport in the evening, and Wu is flying out the next morning. Starting today I am a solo traveler.
Tomorrow I depart for Jaisalmer on an overnight train and I come back on Sunday also on an overnight train. Desert and camels, here I come!