“Excuse me, did you really not see me standing here?” I snapped at the guy who literally looked me in the eye and decided to get in front of me in line. He mumbled an apology, then moved behind me. “Thank you,” I said curtly as I continued to wait my turn in line, I had a feeling this was going to be a very common occurrence in India. Fortunately I am five feet and two inches of pure sass.
Date: January 5th, 2016
Time: 12:25 p.m. IST
Location: Delhi, India
As I said my last goodbyes to my mom Tuesday, January 3rd at the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, the gravity of what I was about to do slammed me in the chest; I was leaving everyone and everything I cared about behind for the next few months, and I had no real idea of what was coming next. This was really happening. I began to tear up as I remembered what one of my friends told me before leaving: “Don’t come back different, come back better.” But three months abroad on your own inevitably changes you, and I felt ready for change, for growth.
I went through security quickly and found my terminal easily. I was flying with Qatar Airways for the first time, and I was nervous to be making such a big trip on my own. As I took my seat, though, I couldn’t help but notice how luxurious the airplane felt, even economy class had pillows, blankets, and one of those nifty eyemasks for better sleep. My first connection would be a 14-hour flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Doha, Qatar, and after the very delicious first meal, I passed out instantly. Thanks to my secret talent of being able to pass out anywhere, I slept through most of the flight, only waking up to eat or catch an episode of Modern Family.
We landed in Doha, Qatar Wednesday at 5:20 p.m. The airport was really high-tech and nice. They had playgrounds and Macs, as well as bougie restaurants and spas.
At the coffee shop, I quickly befriended another solo female travel and learned that she was also on her way to Goa, India for a Yoga Teacher Training program. We exchanged information and agreed to meet up soon. She even offered me a place to crash if I was ever in Morocco. I’ve honestly developed such a deep appreciation for picking up strangers at airports.
During my nine-hour layover, I explored the airport, wrote for Bullet Music, talked to strangers, and ate the worst overpriced Chinese food of my life. $18 for this felt like a stab to the heart. At 1:30 a.m. I finally made it to the terminal to begin the boarding process. Yet again I met another young female traveler on her way to a YTT. My heart felt warm meeting so many women who were brave enough to take the same jump I was taking.
At 2:25 a.m. the very packed airplane took off for Delhi. I have to admit, though, this plane did not feel nearly as glamorous as the first one. It was full and it wreaked of bad B.O., but after a really great meal, yet again I was able to pass out for most of the flight.
When I stepped off of the plane in Delhi, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I had actually made it all the way to India on my own. “This is it, no looking back,” I thought to myself. I waited for what felt like hours for my luggage, and when I finally got my bags I made my way over to the counter to exchange my dollars for Rupees.
Fortunately, I wasn’t completely alone in Delhi. A friend of my mom’s would be picking me up and allowing me to stay with her until my flight for Goa on Sunday. Once we found each other, I happily hopped into her car, and we made our way back to her apartment. The roads were a mess – although they did actually have lanes, it seemed like people took them more as suggestions than as instructions. People, cars, and cows all shared the streets, dusk hung in the air making the sky look more brown than blue, and I saw vendors everywhere pushing everything from suspicious looking street food to quirky arts and crafts. For the next few weeks, though, this would be home, and I felt ready to accept the challenge of India.