Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022
In the summer of 2022, two of my classmates from University, Pratim ( Prat ) Bose with his wife Bijaya and Sauro DiGiacomi with his wife Marianna came to visit me in Niagara for several days. Shortly afterwards, Pratim and Bijaya invited me to join them for a tour of India and Nepal. Prat and Bijaya both grew up in India and spend several months each year in their condominium which is located in Kolkata.
In Niagara on the Lake with (from left to right): Prat, Bijaya, Marianna and Sauro.
The process for making the arrangements to India was quite long and involved a lot of steps. First of all, I had to make sure I could get a visa, so in early September I took an application form to the Indian consulate, where they informed me that I had to go to a BLS office for pre-screening. At the BLS office, I submitted my application and my passport and 2 weeks later I received my passport with a 1 year Indian visa.
Then we began the process of determining where we would be going and what we would be seeing. We finally settled on a tour from a company called Gate1 and made the arrangements for the trip.
Once we had decided on the duration of the trip, I had to purchase my flights to India and back home again. Then I had to fill out a self declaration form for India on the Air Suvidha website to make sure that I had all of the required covid vaccinations, as well as, my flight and travel information.
For Nepal, I had to arrange my own flight back to Delhi and then gather the information and pictures required for a visa. The application for the visa could be filled out online, but only ~ 20 days before your travel to Nepal, so we will have to do that while we are in India. I will be on my own when I fly back to New Delhi from Nepal because Prat and Bijaya will be flying to Kolkata for a few months.
Once all of the arrangements were complete, it was just a matter of making sure I had my bag packed and purchased any special emergency medications ( i.e. Imodium ). The weather is supposed to be very warm in India and cool in Nepal so I packed clothes that I could layer and wash easily.
My flight was scheduled to leave at 1 pm on Tuesday, Nov 8. I didn’t want to leave my car at the park&fly in Toronto for 3 weeks and I didn’t want to have someone drive me, so I checked into something different. I reserved a ticked for the GO bus to the airport on the weekend which would only take 2.5 hours to get me there. My brother warned me that the GO bus drivers were preparing to go on strike Monday and the buses were not going to be available. He was right, so on Monday I contacted GO Transit and the agent suggested I take the GO train. That worked out quite well. The train would get me there in plenty of time and with the seniors discount ( half the adult rate ), it only cost about $15.
I picked up my brother just after 5 am and we arrived at the Niagara Falls Go Train station in time to take the 6 am train to Union Station. I boarded the train and my brother took my car back home. Thanks bro.
From Union station I took the UPExpress train to Pearson airport and arrived there shortly after 9:30 am
I was at the gate 4 hours early so I had a good breakfast, topped off with a cappuccino and a double chocolate brownie ( and I’ll admit that I indulged myself ). I had lots of time to relax and start my journal before boarding my flight to Atlanta, which left shortly after the scheduled time of 1 pm.
I arrived in Atlanta around 4 pm and had a quesadilla for lunch while I waited for my 7:35 pm flight to Amsterdam . The 8 hr flight to Amsterdam left about 15 minutes late but we arrived 30 minutes early.
I had a 2.5 hr layover in Amsterdam before catching my 8 hr flight to New Delhi, arriving at 1:10 am, Nov 10, which is 2:40 pm Nov 9 in Niagara Falls since the time in New Delhi is 10.5 hrs ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Prat & Bijaya were flying from Washington to Delhi, with a stopover in DuBai, so when I arrived in Delhi, I waited for them at the airport exit. It didn’t take long for them to contact me and we met the agent from Gate1 travel service, who was waiting for us. Before leaving the airport I purchased a SIM card for my phone at a cost of 500 Indian Rupees ( ~ $ 7 Cdn for 1.5 GB of data and unlimited calling within India for 1 month ).
The travel agent had arranged a cab ride from the airport to our hotel and it was obvious that driving in India was very different from driving in North America, It was more like driving in China or South America. Lane markings are “ suggestions “ and you honk while moving back and forth. However, we easily made it to the Park Hotel in Downtown New Delhi around 4 am.
The temperature in Delhi was 21 C ( 70 F ) when we arrived and the smog had a distinctive aroma to it so we kept our face masks on until we got into the hotel.
After travelling 1 1/2 days, we had finally arrived in Delhi to begin our adventure.