India: By Air

[Sorry I haven't started my stories until now, not sure why... just processing, I guess. I'm going to do the stories of my trip by subject rather than chronologically, though I can do a post with a quick timeline if you'd like.]

The plane rides to India (Denver-Newark, Newark-Delhi) went fine. Continental has great customer service and I had an empty seat next to me, so I was able to sleep much of the way there. Once I got there, I didn't see my friends inside the airport, but once I went outside, there they were. Actually, I didn't see them at first, but a stranger caught my eye and motioned that I should look behind me. There they were, holding up signs with my name (silly me, I was looking for their faces, not reading signs!). They were pretty thrilled to see me, mostly because they had accidentally come the night before and spent hours waiting for me.

The plane rides back to the States (Delhi-Newark, Newark-Denver) however, had its ups and downs. Firstly, the Delhi-Newark leg was packed, so there was no extra space and I hardly slept at all - probably 3 hours of the 14 hour flight. This would have been horrible, except that they had a fantastic new technology on the viewers in the headrest. The viewer was touch screen and you could use it to select movies, TV, music, or games. The movies is what I explored the most. You could choose to watch any movie from their selection of 329 movies! Everything from very recent (27 Dresses) to classics (It's a Wonderful Life, Casablanca) to foreign films (French, English, and Bollywood movies) to children's movies (most of the Pixar films, Disney). Because I couldn't sleep, I watched 5 movies: 27 Dresses, Keeping Mum, Dear Frankie, (part of Finding Nemo), Salaam-E-Ishq (a Bollywood movie), and Mary Poppins. There were also a ton of TV options, but there were really enough movies to fill 5 or 6 plane rides of that length. They often had trilogies or paired movies, like Toy Story 1&2, The Godfather 1-3, LotR 1-3, Matrix 1-3, etc.
At first I wasn't really tired (even though it was night in India), so I watched the first three movies. Then I tried to sleep and managed a couple hours. I thought watching something familiar might help, so I started Nemo, but I really couldn't sleep. I thought, why not take this opportunity to watch a Bollywood movie? So, I did, but reading subtitles when you're tired is not a great idea, so when that was done, I put on Mary Poppins, hoping that the familiar songs would be soothing. I think I dozed a little, but it was fun to watch something I hadn't seen in a couple decades.
At the Newark airport, I ran into a little snag after I had rechecked my bags after customs. I had bought some Indian rum ("Old Monk") at the Delhi duty free shop and put it in my carry on. I thought that I would be within the security of the Newark airport the whole time, so it would be OK. It was not. I could not carry through that much liquid, even if it was sealed and bought in a duty free shop. It's here that I'd like to commend the wonderful people at Newark airport. First, the TSA people were kind but firm about my options and pointed out where exactly I needed to go and what exactly I needed to do to check my purchase. I really needed that detailed help, 'cause I was operating on too little sleep at this point. Then, when I got to the Continental desk and asked for a box, they found one, lent me some tape, and helped me to check the box (my third! item) for free. Thank you, Newarkians.
The Newark-Denver leg of the flight seemed very short, mostly because there was a free seat between me and the gal next to me, so I slept from before they even pulled away from the gate till we started the descent to Denver. I woke up periodically in the middle, but only for a moment or two, then it was back to sleep.

I really didn't have too much trouble with jet lag (which I actually had to look up). It mostly just turned me into a morning person. I got tired earlier than usual, then woke up earlier than usual (it's obviously more extreme the night/morning immediately following the plane trip).


MWT said...

Yeah, I was a crack-o-dawn person all during Hawaii, which worked out well because we wanted to see stuff in the early mornings to beat heat and crowds.

belsum said...

I decided a while back that jet-lag is actually easier to deal with if it's a big time differential. You're expecting trouble so you take precautions. But if you're just switching by an hour or two? You don't think about it and then you end up all hungry at the wrong times and it just is annoying.

That said, I am totally jealous of the groovy new TV/movie technology! I thoroughly enjoyed the general offerings on our flights home from France last year but on the way there? Boo. And When I flew to India it was on Royal Jordanian, so we did not have anything fancy. At all. Blankets. Decent food. That's it.

MWT said...

My favorite recent flight was EVA Air from LA to Taiwan (back in 2004). Not only did we get food on real plates with real silverware, good thick blankets and real pillows, we also all got slippers. In coach they were disposable, but first class got real ones. They were also very attentive, and we were fed every four hours or so (it was a 19-hour flight, I think). Nothin' like East Asian hospitality on an airplane. :)

I don't recall what the entertainment technology was like, but I've seen those individual screens before. Seems to still be random whether you get a plane that has them though.