The tombs will amaze you. The traffic will frustrate you. The food will delight you. The pollution, well that depends on the weather. As soon as you arrive, the colors, the smells, the culture of India will embrace you.
Most of all, India will never ever bore you.
This is my fourth year planning the GBSN annual conference, and every year each city has unique differences and mazes to explore. For example, one should not try to purchase 100 notebooks the day before the conference starts in South Africa—there are no "Office Depots” as you can easily find in the states. You should know that in Mexico, if there are less than seven courses to a dinner, it should not be called a "Gala” Dinner. In fact, anything less than seven is really just a regular dinner. In Washington DC you should expect to pay US $150 to purchase an extension cord in the hotel, whereas it would only cost $10 one block away at the local convenience store. In planning a conference one must be prepared for the worst, expect the best, and never become complacent.
This being my first visit to India I was excited to see the differences as we start planning for the seventh annual GBSN Conference in Delhi. I will be blogging about my experiences throughout the year as we begin our preparations for the 2012 conference next June.
Arriving in Delhi on the long haul direct flight from Newark, NY (an almost 15-hour journey) I arrive to a modern clean airport. I flew through customs, (or sleep-walked as I can’t really recall much, other than it was exceptionally fast and efficient) grabbed my bags and headed out to meet my colleague from our partner school, IMT Ghaziabad.
You are overwhelmed walking out of the airport, with large families and others waiting for arrivals. Even late at night there is traffic, cars honking and an energy vibrating throughout this large exciting city.
My first adventure of the day is to purchase a sim card so I have a local cell phone number. In order to buy a sim card you must fill out paperwork and attach a passport photo of yourself. I don’t typically carry around photos of myself, so we had to figure out how to obtain this picture. Was there anyone local who could take this picture? No. Could we cut out the picture from a copy of my passport in my purse? No, it must be in color. Finally, we took a picture on a cell-phone, emailed it, and then printed on a color printer at the store. Success! One sim card.
Lesson #1: Expect difficult tasks (customs) to go quicker than usual, simple tasks (sim card) to take longer than imagined, and when packing, throw in a few extra passport photos with you.
Lisa Leander is the Member Services Officer for GBSN.