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One flight missed and another taken (28th October 1999, Delhi)

Trying to catch a flight at 5.50 in the morning when you're running a temperature of 102 degrees is never the easiest thing in the world. Add to this the fact that your partner is in the throes of flu himself and you have a rather lethal combination. Several failed wake up alarms and telephone calls after the first one at 4 am we made it to the airport with about five minutes to spare. Naturally it was too late for us to take the flight. After explaining the situation in detail to the airport manager we managed to get our tickets changed to the evening flight. Back to the hotel.

We reached the hotel and the rest is a blur. Both of us were asleep in seconds and woke up a little after noon. Once again we found our way back to a browsing centre and Duane did whatever work he had to do while I walked around Connaught Place. At a busy street corner a man with a little bag approached me and asked if I want Hashish. He assured me that it's good purified Hash all the way from Afghanistan. I turn down his offer and he follows me for a bit and starts quoting prices. With my backpack, shoulder length hair and Panama hat I must have looked like one of many Westerners who come down to North India simply because it's a Hashish and Ganja haven. It was more than a bit disconcerting to be approached openly on the road in one of the busiest locales in New Delhi.

The second time around, we made it to the airport well in advance and made our flight. The flight was headed to Muscat and Ahmedabad was only a stop over. Just after checking in, Duane was asked to produce his passport. He fished it out of his bag and showed it to the relevant people. I was then asked whether I was Indian. I replied in the affirmative, almost with indignation. Only then did I realise that there was no way I could prove that I was Indian if required to. I didn't have either my passport or driver's license with me. It would be truly ironic if in my own country I can't prove that I am Indian!

We landed in Ahmedabad and found our way to Hotel Poonam Palace. If Hotel Paradise at Kanpur was no paradise then Poonam was certainly no palace. The room telephone had its wires ripped out of the wall, no doubt by some irate former tenant. The television set would be brought on demand. The beds were rather interesting and would have been more appropriate in a Dickens novel than in a hotel room. So after a quick 25 minutes of contemplation and rapid calls back to office we decided to move out.

We marched up and down the streets of Ahmedabad searching for the right place. Some of the few good places we found were far outside our budget. Finally as we walked out of our 7th hotel for the evening the manager came running out. From a little over 2000 Rupees a night he came down to 1400. When we still showed no interest he offered the room to us at 1200 Rupees a night. Duane and I looked at each other. Seeing our indecision, the chap came down to a 1000 Rupees a night. We were thoroughly satisfied and agreed to move in the next day. We explained that we had already checked into another hotel and that we would be back. Finally, he offered to give us the room for free for the first night if we checked in immediately. Without any further thoughts we signed on all the dotted lines and made The Mascot Hotel our home for the next five days.