Traveling Updates

I made it to Kolkata!

I just got to the house where Ashlee and I are staying about an hour ago.  She’s left to go to school for the day and I was given strict instructions to stay in my room and rest until she returns from classes at about 2:30.  My head is swirling with excitement as I try to take in all the new sights and sounds around me, but at the same time as I can feel that I’m just a few minutes away from crashing from exhaustion.  I’m going to try and take a nap soon.

Anyway – here’s a quick update for everyone:

Monday night/Tuesday in NYC

On Monday afternoon Michael Melfi generously gave me a ride to the airport (Thanks Melfi!), but my flight from Indianapolis to Newark ended up being delayed by several hours.  By the time the plane landed in Newark on Monday evening, I had already missed the next leg of my journey to Mumbai.  I was then re-booked for the same flight but on Tuesday night instead of Monday.  So, with about 24 hours to kill on the east coast, I called up my brother John who ended up having the night and the next day off of work, and he said I could hang out with him!  I took trains and subways until I arrived at his apartment in the East Village about 11:45pm.  It was, honestly, a really great turn of events.  It meant I wouldn’t arrive in Kolkata until a day later than I had originally planned, but, getting to spend a whole day with my brother in the city was an incredible gift.  It was only the second time I’ve been able to meet up with him in NYC since he moved there in 2009 (the first time was also an unplanned 24 hour trip).

On Tuesday we went to Brooklyn, had a good lunch, hung out at Prospect Park, at some S’Mac, and then it was back on the subway to take the train to take the plane to get to India!

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Little Brother

John Jeffords and Travis Jeffords

 

little brother 2

 First Impressions

So, after a 15 hour flight to Mumbai, a layover, and another flight, I arrived at Kolkata.  I’ve been here such a short time, but, I just wanted to share with everyone some first impressions.

Here are 6 things I’m thinking about:

  1. Mustaches are the way to go.  Everyone’s got one.
  2. Cars drive on the wrong side of the road! As we drove home from the airport I kept thinking we were headed straight for a head on collision.  My brain knows that the left side is the ‘right’ side, but, my gut keeps churning when I see cars headed our direction on the right instead of the left, or when we’re stopped on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in an intersection.
  3. It feels weird to see so many billboards for Coca-cola, Pepsi, Nike, citibank, and other multi-national companies in India.  I know that’s why they’re called multi-national, but something feels weird…It’s also weird to see US celebrities on those same billboards…
  4. Smile! In the Mumbai and Kolkata airports I walked into a lot of situation where I knew there was about to be confusion, and a high potential for frustration…even if someone is speaking English – I had a lot of trouble hearing through their accent.  But it seemed like if I tried to make eye contact and give a big goofy grin, then people tended to smile back, and the interaction was much more joy filled.
  5. Foreign currency is like monopoly money.  If I spend $20, it feels like I’m spending $20. There’s a psychological weight that accompanies that transaction…and higher amounts of money that I spend carry a higher psychological weight to them.  It represents a portion of the resources that Ashlee and I share and have been entrusted to.  But with rupees, there’s just not that feeling.  1,000 rupees may be about twenty dollars, but it doesn’t feel like I’m spending any money at all.  It’s somehow all abstracted…
  6. Police officers are wearing all-white jump suits with matching white helmets – they look like motorcycle stuntmen or Futurama characters.

After Ashlee gets back today I think the plan is to eat some lunch and then go for a walk so I can get a little more acquainted with our immediate surroundings.  I’ll try and take some photos (thanks once again to Michael Melfi for letting me use his camera) and post them online.

 

 

 

 

 

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