My Trip to India

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Trip to India

Peering out of the international terminal window, I gaped at the colossal Boeing-747 plane standing in front of me, with not just one floor but two floors of seats. All buzzed up in excitement, I bombarded my father with questions about my first real trip to India. I say my first real trip because the first time I had been there was when I was an infant, probably being passed around and adored by countless relatives. "When are we leaving? When will we get there? Where are we staying?" I pestered my father, which got the usual response of "I'll tell you in a bit." This was the mark of my first summer vacation as a teenager, and what better place to go than to Madras, India to visit my relatives and catch a glimpse of a staggering large and different culture? I did not know what to expect traveling to my parent's home country but I knew it would be an experience that would be hard to forget. What really stood out in my mind were the overpopulation and the poverty levels. As we boarded the plane the Lufthansa flight I was struck with the hard to miss smell of an airplane which, surprisingly, as a kid I thoroughly enjoyed. The first leg of the trip was to Frankfurt, Germany, and then we connected to a flight to Madras, India, the latter plane flight taking thirteen of the twenty-four hours of flying. As we prepared for landing I felt like I had traveled to the other side of the world, and I truly did figuratively and literally. Nearly the second my foot stopped out of the plane into to the gate I was suffocating. The temperature had to be at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and what made it worse was the humidity. I literally had sweated off a pound by the time we reached the excruciatingly long immigration and customs line. This line was so crowded that it would probably be more fitting to refer to it as an enormous glob of people rather than a line. What made it frightening was that my brother and I nearly lost sight of my parents numerous times. Fortunately, after waiting for more than an hour to clear all the people past immigration, my family proceeded down to the luggage carousel. From what I saw, the carousel gave me no inclination to that we were in an airport rather than a carnival. Once again there were hundreds perhaps thousands of people around five conveyor belts all trying to get to their luggage which hasn't even arrived yet. After my dad emerged from the mass of people with our luggage on a cart, we were immediately surrounded by men in turbans offering to help carry the bags on their heads for a nominal fee. It was an impressive sight seeing them juggle forty-pound suitcases on their head, but regardless we had a cart for our suitcases. Amusingly, this did not deter them one bit, they literally would not take no for an answer. I actually had to pry my own luggage from their thick leathery hands. This was funny to me at first but I realized that this was their job and it blew my mind that people would actually do this for a living. Upon stepping out of the airport, I immediately noticed at least ten soldiers carrying the largest guns I had ever seen in my life, slung across their neck, and telling jokes to each other as if this was a common sight. Behind the soldiers there was once again a tremendously long line of people lined up behind a small metal railing that I suppose was to hold them back from coming inside to the airport. Each one of them was shouting the names of their relatives, waiting and hoping to see if they had arrived. We finally spotted my uncle, whom was wearing a nice polo shirt and some slacks, and proceeded to his Mitsubishi Lancer car. The driver, Bala, an old man probably in his sixties packed our luggage in random spots and corners in the car, and set off into downtown Madras. This was the first time a driver chauffeured me around and the car trip was extremely fun, although I'm sure it was partly due to the air conditioning. We whizzed past cars, massive trucks carrying...
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