Towards the Kingdom of Dreams
A delayed flight allowed us the time to explore Cochi but cut our time short in Delhi. We arrived at the beautiful airport in the evening. We were picked up by friend's brother Mohit and brought to their parents home where another wonderful dinner awaited us.
Our final few hours were to be a visit to a bird sanctuary and the Kingdom of Dreams. On this particular day, the driver’s command of English was less than our skill with Hindi, which is non-existent. No worries, as we bid farewell and piled into the car, our friends outlined our plans to the driver. Driving in India is very confusing, even for the taxi drivers, so it was no surprise that he turned on Waze for directions to our first stop. Curiously, the audible directions were provided in English which meant we could understand them, but he needed to rely on the graphics. This also meant that we knew when he missed a turn or chose the wrong exit in the rotary before he did, but were powerless to prevent it. The entrance to the bird sanctuary was missed several times. It was actually a bit humorous on the first occasion being aware of what happened before him and waiting to see how long it would take for him to catch on that the distance to the destination had suddenly increased. However, the traffic was heavy and we needed to travel far afield to turn around each time, so it grew increasingly frustrating. We eventually gave up on the bird sanctuary and went directly to the Kingdom of Dreams. As it turns out it worked out perfectly because there was a lot to see and do that we would have missed had we spent less time there.
When you walk through the gates into the Kingdom of Dreams you will see this little shop on your left.
The 853 seat state of the art Nautanki Mahal Performing Arts Center - One of the theaters at the Kingdom of Dreams
Here we saw the musical Jhumroo which was based on the 1961 Bollywood romantic comedy which starred Kishore Kumar and Madhubala. The state of the art theater, with an advanced sound system and enormous LED screens, allowed excerpts from the original Bollywood film to be seamlessly incorporated into the live musical.
In this adaptation, Bhola, a diehard Kishore Kumar fan, is a regular Joe who has fallen in love with his colleague Meena and who wants to make it big in Bollywood so that he can profess his love to her. Unfortunately, his dream of becoming a singing sensation is somewhat hindered by his talent deficit, which his father never hesitates to point out. As the story unfolds, Bhola finds himself in the finals of a star search show ala American Idol after channeling his hero Kumar. The “tv show” incorporates volunteers from the audience as well making for a rather entertaining production.
As it happened, the young lady in the seat next to me was a professional musician who volunteered to belt out a beautiful tune. Appearing via the big screen when that woman was selected is as close as I may ever get to starring on “national television” .
When you enter the doors to the Culture Gully you are brought into a miniaturized cross between the Mall of America and Epcot’s Countries of the World all under one roof. Here the culture of 14 of India’s 29 states can be explored by beautiful buildings, lighting, murals and places to eat. The sky changes to reflect the time of day. The blues turn to dark navy and stars come out.
After we left the Culture Gully we walked around a few minutes before heading back to our car and driver. I could not resist the click below of the beautiful girl with her colorful sari brightening up the scene in front of me
Not wanting to leave anything to chance we gave ourselves about 4 hours to get to the airport from about eight miles away and figured we could relax in one of the lounges. Did we mention it was monsoon season? It took three and a half hours and amped up our anxiety. Arriving at the airport it was now time to join one of the long lines through the first ring of security to enter the terminal where we needed to show our id and boarding pass. Unfortunately because we did not have a place to charge our phone and we took some selfies with it to share with our friends, our batteries were dying. My husband’s phone died right after his boarding pass was seen but before he could scroll to my info. Luckily my phone turned on for just enough time to retrieve my boarding pass and cut off once we were in the airport. We scrambled for a place to charge our phones so that we could pull out information when it would be needed later and checked the flight displays. When lo and behold, we discovered our flight was cancelled. This led to a mild panic attack as we had two dead phones, one slot at a crowded charging pole, no wifi, our airline’s ticket counter was closed and would not open for another 3 hours and we had a wedding to attend in New York the following day. One of the benefits of spending time in India was witnessing the serene calmness which the inhabitants display in the face of inconveniences that drive people from our neck of the woods crazy. Following that “when in Rome” adage, my husband mastered his inner peace when the ticket counter finally opened as opposed to the drunken sailor with tourette syndrome rant that could have easily bubbled to the surface. In fact, he was such a good boy that the agent complimented him for being so unusually calm and polite that he even worked some of that now familiar Indian bureaucratic magic to get us on another airline and home at the same time as our original flight. Others on our cancelled flight were overheard complaining of delays counted in days and 4 plane changes with long layovers to get back. All we had to do when we checked in at the other airline was to show the confirmation number the agent gave us, apologize for having forgotten to pick our seats and keep silent about the cancelled flight. Not only that, we got an upgrade to boot.
The good thing about the Delhi airport is that it was incredibly clean and, since no non-traveler could enter. it’s not overly crowded leaving plenty of space for more elephants..
Hopefully these 9 mini-blogs explained why India is an absolutely amazing place with so much to see and do. A photographer's heaven. I hope to go back someday soon to see more of this wonderful country. I will plan a longer trip though, perhaps 3-4 weeks.
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