Finally on Tuesday evening I boarded my plane for a 13 hour trip from Chicago to Dubai, Pastor Pete and Arvindh had been redirected for a flight from Chicago to Boston at 3:00pm and then they would fly from Boston to Dubai, but it ended up that we would actually arrive in Dubai at the exact same time. As we once again prepared for take off, my excitement and nervousness began to build, seat belt buckled, phone on air plane mode and gum in my mouth to hopefully avoid air pressure hoohashery, we began to move as we got the all go from the pilot. Minutes passed as we moved our way around the large air port grounds seeking our runway, then there was a momentary stop before the engines roared and you felt the G force suck you into your seat as we sped ever more quickly down the run way, then before you knew it, we had lift off!! I couldn’t believe it honestly, I was filled with child like excitement as we climbed higher and higher, Chicago became like a sea of stars, it was so beautiful. The flight itself was relatively uneventful, I had a middle seat, so sleeping was rather tricky and uncomfortable, but again I did enjoy a couple good movies and great food/snacks. Near the end of the flight I had a nice conversation with an older Jain woman sitting next to me about Lord Shiva, her friend who was a great Shiva devotee, her return home after 11 years, her two sons that she was very proud of and my plans for my time in India.
Dubai airport was very futuristic, but almost eerily quiet for how large it was. You wouldn’t believe it, but as I went towards security I randomly ran into Pastor Pete again! Arvindh had a quick layover, so he was boarding almost immediately after he got off the plane to Dubai. Pastor Pete and I decided to seek out where out gates were(this ends up chaotic on my end), everything seemed great, we were two gates away from one another, so everything was wonderfully convenient. We decided to wander around the airport shopping area, it was like a mall inside the middle of the air port, it was kind of wild what all they sold, everything from Chocolate and tobbacco to expensive watches, jewelry, electronics and cars! Pastor Pete and I decided to try out Dubai McDonalds for funsies. Turns out that it is relatively the same, except for nicer and more futuristic in every single way… Pastor Pete and I had a nice conversation about religion, his mission work and experience of being a Pastor for over 20 years. How he ended up in the States as a construction worker in the 90’s, encountered Jesus Christ, which changed his life, he met his wife through church and within 5 years of becoming a Christian felt a calling to become a pastor, which would later blossom into his mission work all over the world. Pete also taught me a lot about travel, the do’s and dont’s, how to navigate the systems, he would also save my butt in helping me to realize that 45 minutes before my boarding I was at the completely wrong area of the air port. Thus began the montage of me running through an air port carrying heavy luggage, sweating my arse off in some panic reminiscent of a scene from Home Alone or some movie where someone runs frantic through an airport trying to catch their flight. Turns out I had to take a bus to a completely different section of the air port(the air port was monstrous) and all of this occurred because when the airline rebooked my flights after Monday’s cancellation, they happened to forget to mention they booked me with another air line… but all in all it all worked out and I found myself on a plane from Dubai to Mumbai.
Mumbai is a beautiful, sort of mystical airport, the artwork, pillars and ceiling are out of this world! Security and immigration was much tougher in India than in Dubai. Turns out my 8:00am flight to Ahmedabad from Mumbai would be overbooked, so I wouldn’t have a spot, which was quite the early morning debacle. Arrived shortly after 5am in Mumbai and pretty much spent until about 9:00am rectifying the situation, which would then lead me to having to spend 9 more hours than planned in the airport, but it did afford me the opportunity to write all of this, I also met a really nice clerk who talked with me a ton about the meanings and beauty of Shiva, Rudraksha and Shiva’s many holy places throughout India. This man is from the ancient city of Benares, also known as Varanasi or classically as Kashi, which is one of the holiest cities in all of India and it is believed the Lord Shiva himself resides there amongst the cremation grounds to liberate all souls from the cycle of birth and death. Soon I will board my final flight to Ahmedabad and the true adventure will begin.
Much love & peace to you all.
Om Namah Shivaya