At 0300 hrs, the Qatar Airways flight from Doha landed dot on time. I was apprehensive of infamous Delhi fog, but fortunately it was a clear sky in November end. After exiting the aircraft and walking over the jet bridge I noticed a couple of beautiful ladies from airport welcome service draped in white and blue waiting for their privileged clients. As I walked past, a series of travelators welcomed me on the maroon-carpeted floor. I also saw free golf cart service to ferry the passengers, but didn’t opt for it since I wanted to walk after a tiring flight journey. Everything was spic and span. As I descended to the lower floor by escalator, the Buddhist design in copper above the immigration desks demanded my attention. The hassle-free immigration hardly took ten minutes before I reached the conveyer belt for the luggage. I pulled out one of the free trolleys, loaded the luggage and moved towards the exit. On the way I saw a maize of shops selling same duty free items from liquor to perfumes. The liquor deals assured me that one need not take the pain of carrying alcohol from overseas. I followed green channel to exit and walked to the waiting area. Man! This is the first introduction to the country of over a billion people. Tens of placards among the crowd of at least a hundred was ready to welcome.
On the left hand side Plaza Premium lounge is located which offers five star sleeping, shower and massage service, well worth the money (that’s what it looked like.. Shower for Rs. 500), if you want to take a nap before checking into the hotel to save early check in charges.
As I moved ahead, I saw a few kiosks lined up selling hotels and cars on the right. One of these kiosks is Delhi Police run prepaid taxi counter (the cheapest taxi option to reach the city). Besides, it also has India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Make My Trip counters for hotel and car booking.
I took a prepaid coupon from Delhi Police counter and moved towards the main exit. On the way I saw Costa Coffee, a telephone booth and a few other shops. As soon as I exited, a fleet of air-conditioned Taxi welcomed me. Now they have removed the prepaid counter for A/C taxis (Meru and Mega cabs) and you need to pay by meter on arrival. These cabs cost 30-40 per cent more than Delhi Police run taxis, but are well maintained, far more spacious and drivers are better trained. Since its run by private players, sometimes they follow a longer more exotic route to your hotel, still it’s cheaper than the hotel transfers.
To my surprise, I also saw beautiful red a/c buses waiting to transport the travelers to the city. Though, I didn’t bother to check the fare, it should not be more than 100 rupees and is the best option if you’re travelling on shoestring budget.
Since I opted for cheaper black & yellow non-a/c taxi, I had to cross the road to reach them. The parking stand number was written on the booking slip, soon a black and yellow cab arrived and the journey began. It was an old Maruti Van, the driver was patient, polite and zero in English but he ferried me comfortably to Dwarka sector 18 where my friend Satyam was waiting at home to welcome me.
Away from the middle-eastern bland desert wind, the smell of sweet morning breeze was quite pleasing. It was indeed a hassle-free arrival in New Delhi.