We had planned to sleep late this morning but woke up at , probably used to the rhythm of constantly being on the move. We prepared for our departure later today and went down for a fine breakfast buffet. The news this morning told about two remarkable things. The first item was about new bombing in Assam, in the north-east of India near Bangladesh. The other item was the news about many flight cancellations because of the extreme fog in Delhi. We checked the internet for possible problems with our flights to Delhi and Amsterdam, but no problems seemed to be foreseen so far.
Get your cup of love at the Cafe Coffee Day.
We therefore decided to check out and drop our bags in UK's car, heading into Lucknow for a couple of hours.
The extreme contrast between the area we travelled through the last couple of days and Lucknow was mind-blowing. With the possible exception of Patna, which in itself was a relatively poor city, our last days had been filled with scenes of extreme poverty. Of people that had to make ends meet by working their own land or were not able to make ends meet at all. A world of ox-carts stacked with sugar cane, beggars, dirty towns, badly maintained roads ... and of course people pissing in public. The main shopping area of Lucknow was the exact opposite. Shiny stores with expensive brands, cinema's and shopping malls, well dressed people and rich kids living of daddy's money.
"We've seen that one!"
With the only exception being Connaught Place in Delhi and the TDI mall in Agra we hadn't seen this before. And it was just an hour away from the poverty of the previous days. Together with the amazement about how many people don't seem to be doing anything more than hanging around in most of the towns, this was without a doubt the biggest shock of our trip.
We had a cup of coffee at the Starbucks-wannabe Café Day and just wandered around the stores for a while.Bart bought some nice coffee mugs and I found a book full of information about the Buddhist circuit we had done in the past week. We eventually came upon the enormous Sahara shopping mall where we found a McDonalds on the top floor, as well as a branch of the chaat store at which we had the basket chaat yesterday. I decided to have that horribly looking but tasty chaat again, while Bart opted for a safer choice of French fries at the Mac.
Around we made our way to the Lucknow airport in UK's car.
Chaat basket ... not as disgusting as it looks.
Arriving we said goodbye to UK, who we'd come to know as a dodgy English speaker but trustworthy and sweet guy. We had to wait a while before we could check in but the plane flew nicely on time, not hindered by the mist.
To our surprise and delight we found Kimi waiting for us at the domestic airport. He seemed to be pleased as well to see us again and we asked him to drop us off at the Radisson hotel. Instead of hanging around at the airport for seven hours Bart had suggested to grab a couple of beers and maybe something to eat at the Radisson. A cunning plan, so the evening found us in the posh hotel sipping our Kingfishers and relaxing in the lounge.
At eleven we decided to head for the InternationalAirport, where check in and customs went so smoothly that I completely forgot to change our remaining rupees. At the gate I found Judith again. It felt strange but comforting to see her again after all these months since I had left her in Amritsar. We exchanged stories and boarded the plane well on time. So far so good...
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