Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Trip to India

I'm taking a business trip to India. I arrive at the hotel and go to check in. On the way to the front desk, I see a co-worker coming out of the elevator. I feel relieved that I know someone in this foreign country. He is in a rush to get somewhere but mentions that both he and his wife are there and they are on floor 10. Hopefully, I can get a room near them. I get on line to check in. As I approach the counter, I try to fish out my company credit card and I can't find it. I have my purchasing card, but you aren't supposed to use that for travel. The front desk person looks at me impatiently and I can see that the line is getting longer behind me. A woman employee tells me that I'm taking too long and asks me to move to a different line. I'm so flustered that I simply follow. Finally when I get to the counter, I decide to use my regular personal credit card since I will at least get a 2% benefit back. The clerk tells me that since I'm not using the credit card that I reserved with, I will be assigned a different room, as if this were a e-Ticket check-in at an airport kiosk. I'm a little concerned about this and ask where the room will be. He says, "Actually, your pool is right here around the corner, but the room is in building 10-D which you well be escorted to."

I look around the corner at my assigned pool and see this room with a small pool which is about 10 x 15 feet made entirely of stainless steel like a huge sink. It is extremely crowded, filled with Indian people. There were two levels to the pool. Around the shallow outer ring, all the adults were sitting around the edge with their feet in the water. In the center of the pool, all the children were playing inside. The water was divided into three colored areas, one red, one blue and one green, as if the children were swimming in various jell-o colors. I couldn't tell whether the color was achieved by actual colored water, in which case they would probably easily mix together, or lights from above or under the water. I thought this pool was pretty cool and different from pools back home, but it was so crowded and filled with local people that I did not want to try it. There were several rooms with these pools for the different parts of the hotel.

After check-in I was asked to hop into a cream colored Mercedes car which would take me to my room. I had a soft duffel bag for luggage which I stuffed into the foot well of the back seat before hopping in. There was another traveler going to the same building. He was chatting with the driver about some restaurant and karaoke club that he liked and the driver said it was right around the corner from our building. We drive around for quite a while, turning so many times that I quickly lose my direction. I look out the window at all the new sights and sounds of India and think about taking out my camera, but I'm more concerned that I don't know where I am and I know that I'll have plenty of time to take pictures later. Finally, I see "10-D" on a nice beige complex that look like American condos with garage doors in front. We drive through the parking lot and drive back out onto the streets. After a couple of turns the driver stops and lets us out. I ask why we aren't at building 10-D and the driver said the we were being dropped off at the karaoke club that the other passenger mentioned and points to it across the street. I somehow missed the conversation where this decision was made. The driver informs us that our lunch has been prepared and sets them up on picnic benches along the sidewalk.

My kids are suddenly there and I have to make sure all the Indian food is to their liking. An older Indian woman sits down besides me and I find that I have to move all our meals down the table. She has a lot of wares with her as well and takes up a lot of room. I realize that the guy I was traveling with has his lunch packed up and is walking towards the club across the street. Since I'm no where near the co-worker I had seen previously, I feel this is the only guy that I know in this country, plus I can't even remember how to get back to the hotel building. I call out, "Steve?" He doesn't answer and I realize that is not his name. I run over and tap his shoulder and ask him to show me how to get back to the hotel building. He points down the street and says just go right at that traffic light, then go left and the building is on the right. I ask him, "Can I have your phone number because I don't know anyone else in this country?" I'm a little concerned that we probably don't know the local number of the hotel and that our US cell phones won't work with Indian providers, but he willingly writes down his name, Roger, and his phone number on the back of a receipt. I, in turn, do the same and write down my work phone number (obviously this will do him no good, but I'm not so logical when dreaming).

After watching Steve (apparently I refuse to believe his name is Roger as I type this) cross the street to his restaurant, I turn back to my kids and see them running around the sidewalk with a bunch of headbands from the woman with the wares. My son (6) is chasing my daughter (almost 3) trying to put them around her neck. They are laughing and having a great time. I start yelling at them to "Stop!" and "Give those back!" and "We will have to pay for those!" I'm concerned that I don't have any Indian cash as I had forgotten to exchange some at the airport, and I'm sure this woman cannot take a credit card. I'm completely at wits end with the kids when I suddenly realize that I have to wake up. I wake up, look at the clock and it is two minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I'm extremely relieved to be out of that stressful situation in India.

Observations: Of course, I've never been to India. I rarely set the alarm, but I was going to a seminar this morning in not so foreign Manchester, NH (in which I wrote the draft of this dream in its entirety). Last week I planned business trips to benign domestic cities of Palm Springs, CA and Chicago and certainly will not be bringing those crazy kids of mine. We did take a family trip to Disney World two weeks ago, and I probably said all those phrases, but it was not nearly as stressful as I thought it would be.