The last 72 hours

Last time I was supposed to go to Istanbul, in 2006, I was mugged on the train ride to the airport in Paris, so no dice. I was feeling a little superstitious, like this time around something bad would happen again, something that would prevent me from visiting Turkey. And something almost did happen. I decided to end India with a trip the Taj Mahal, a 5 hour ride from Delhi, due to return at the stroke of midnight. I forgot that in India, midnight can mean 2 am or 3 am (the time I was supposed to be at the airport by). Naturally, my anxiety heightened as we were stopped at every traffic jam, usually caused by something stupid like a cow sitting in the middle of the road. Stress zits began popping up everywhere. To steer my mind away, I compiled a list of countries with the best and worst foods inside my head.

Anyway, I did make it back to Delhi and to the airport in the nick of time. They interrogated me at the airport. What the hell was this little Chinese American doing flying from India to Turkey? Surely I must be a terrorist. But when I glimpsed myself in the airport bathroom mirror, the first time I had seen myself since before India, I saw what a dirty, skinny, pimply, bloodshot-eyed, scraggly-haired mess I had become, and I reeked of curry…I could see why customs was not immediately keen on letting me through. But once I passed security, I was giddy to use the sit down toilets with toilet paper available and to actually clean my hands when I washed them. My stopover was in Dubai, a people-watching bonanza, and even though I hadn’t caught a wink of sleep in over 48 hours, I was excited to create stories inside my head for all the characters I saw. The woman I sat next to on the plane wore a designer burqua and she stared at me the entire time, never acknowledgıng the man she was with (who never acknowledged her either). The aiport gift shop sold things like the Quran for the iPhone. There was a flight to JFK, too, which I was slightly tempted to jump on.

Inside Abu Dhabi aırport

Inside Abu Dhabi aırport

And yeah, the Taj is totally awseome! I met loads of jaded travelers in India that told me to avoid the tourist trap and just to look at pictures of it online. But even in the 100 degree fahrenheit humidity, amid the crowds, the $17 foreigner entrance fee, and the stress about my flight, I could feel the magic of this beautiful teardrop in the sky.

Ta da!

Ta da!

I write to you from Istanbul where I am enjoying beautiful weather and fresh showers…and a plethora of mosques to mosque me out. They have real mattresses here, wıth springs in them and everything. The last bed I slept in in Delhi was a filthy sheet covering a burlap sack filled with hay. But that kınd of hard surface was what I had gotten used to ın the past few months, and I couldnt fall asleep in my wonderful Istanbul bed.

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~ by ceciliabien on August 11, 2009.

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