My First Day in New Delhi
This post is part two of my arrival and first day in India.
My flight arrived on time to Indira Gandhi International Airport, and after deplaning I joined the masses walking toward immigration and customs. It took me at least 45 minutes to get through the immigration queue – again with the lack of regard to lines, and my Scandinavian tendency to follow rules even if others around me do not. This tendency has served me well for the most part until now, but now I am playing a game with different rules – being polite and “waiting one’s turn” seems to put the player at a steep disadvantage. After passing immigration (with no interrogation) I located my carry-on luggage.
When I checked in at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport on Friday I checked one bag. That bag got on a plane but I did not, so I knew there was a chance it would not be at the Delhi airport when I arrived. Indeed, it was not. I filed a delayed baggage report but was missing my claim ticket number so there was little they could do for me. They told me to call the airline and request the claim ticket number and call them the next day to update my file. It was rather complicated because I wasn’t sure whether my bag had been checked through Continental, my original flight on Friday, or Delta, the new flight I was assigned.
After filing my baggage report I followed the Green Line (no customs/nothing to claim) to the arrival gates, like the baggage claim area at MSP. I expected to be swarmed by taxi drivers (as I was upon arrival in Chile), but was greeted instead by a number of men, shuttle drivers, with signs for various hotels and tours lazily waiting behind a railing looking bored, no swarming of any sort. I was not disappointed. I walked out Gate 4 and caught a glimpse of my host Rotarian. I felt bad because I was arriving so late. He was just about to leave, thinking once again my travel plans had changed, but had decided to look for me one last time. So once again, I am being taken care of thanks to your thoughts and prayers. He located his driver and we made the 20 minute or so drive to his apartment. My room is spacious and has AC for which I am incredibly grateful. I will be staying here for the next couple of days before relocating to more permanent accommodation. Rotarian Gobind Shahani is very kind and has a great sense of humor. He has hosted students and visitors from all over the world – today I signed his guestbook which dates back to December 1988.
This morning (Tuesday night MN time) I woke up well rested at 6:30am. I had a cup of tea at 8am and my first Indian breakfast around 9. More on the food later, it’s delish. I was able to get my baggage claim ticket number from the airlines and will call the airport office when it opens at 4:30pm this afternoon. I am hopeful that my bag will turn up.
Rotarian Shahani dropped me at the JNU campus on his way to work. When we arrived there was a crowd of students with badges that read “Admission Assistance”. One of the students, Minakshi, took me under her wing and guided me through the registration process.
How to register as a foreign student at JNU:
- Make sure you bring copies of the following: passport, student visa, medical certificate, academic transcript. If you don’t have them when you arrive (I did not) do not worry, JNU is like a city within a city and you will find most everything you need.
- Submit required documents in Room 20, Admin. Bldg.
- Take the form you receive and make the payment of your student fees – $850 USD for Natural Science, $600 USD for Social Science. Don’t you wish you could all come to school here? The payment may only be made in cash, which can be obtained at on campus ATMs.
- Walk from Admin. Bldg. to a copy shop to make a copy of your receipt of payment.
- …coming soon, I got as far as step 4 today.
In order to get the necessary documents from my email to a flash drive to a printer Minakshi and I visited a number of the copy/print shops on campus and two of the libraries. The process of saving the documents from my email account to my Sertich Consulting flash drive was delayed by no less than 5 temporary power outages – a frequent occurrence in India due to poor infrastructure and high demand. Once I printed and submitted my paperwork back at the Admin. Bldg. I received 4 identical folio forms to fill out and was sent to pay my student fee. At this time Minakshi had to leave, but luckily I met up with other international students – Lena from Germany, and Lesly from France – and we walked together to the ATM. Near the ATM I was also able to buy 16 passport photos (we need to give 10 to the school for registration as well) and a plug adapter to charge my laptop.
When I returned to the Admin. Bldg. with Lena and Lesy, the finance office was closed for lunch and would reopen at 2:30pm. We met up with five other students from Leslie’s university in France, and two of them joined the girls and I for lunch at one of the canteens on campus. After lunch we returned to pay our fees. Even though campus is very safe, I was glad to hand over the cash I had been carrying since late morning. Tomorrow or the next day I will return to campus to make a copy of my fee receipt and submit it to the registration office and the adventure will continue. The entire process has been so much easier than I anticipated. I am so grateful for the new friends who made it fun and painless.
Gobind picked me up from campus at 3pm and after a cup of tea I set to writing this blog post. I was able to get my claim ticket number from the airlines and called the airport office here in Delhi. There is a piece of luggage that fits my description on an inbound flight from Paris set to arrive tonight around 1045pm. I have a good feeling it’s mine.
I will post more, hopefully with pictures of my new stomping grounds, in the next few days. Thanks for reading!