Wednesday, May 28–It’s the eve of our departure. The last-minute crises–a lost passport, an expired passport, an approved loan that hadn’t shown up, a visa approved only today–have been resolved. Bags are packed with hot-weather clothing and the electronics we’ll need to tell our stories. An item comes out of the suitcase, then goes back in. Nervous parents are telling their sons and daughters to be careful.
Our flight on Etihad Airways leaves from John F. Kennedy International Airport at 3:40 p.m. tomorrow. Sometime in what would be the middle of the New York night, we will transfer in Abu Dhabi for the second leg of our trip. When we get to Bangalore’s soaring modern airport, it will be Friday night. We will wait nervously for our turn with the border control agent, who will press our fingertips again and again on the screen of his reader, waiting for a good scan. With visas at last stamped in our passports, we will stagger through customs, where our baggage will be searched. (Why? Theories abound, mostly related to smuggling electronics or gold.) Our Bangalore fixer, Dipti Kumar, will be waiting with her bright, cheerful smile to lead us to our bus.
The Royale Senate Hotel lobby will be a blur. We’ll remember little after that until we wake on Saturday morning, India time, to begin our adventure in earnest.–Barbara Selvin