28th July, 2009 – Day 2 – 4.30 am
Meenu and I arrive on dot at Sensei’s place! Shobha and Dally follow us! The cabs were ready and Sampath did a neat job of loading them nicely. We arrived at the airport at about 5.10am. Ma’am handed over a Sogetsu Catalogue to me which had pictures of all kinds of pin holders and cutters. In case we are to be questioned about the nature of ‘dangerous looking’ ‘weapon-like’ things in our suitcases, I was to explain to them that the pin holders are to bear lovely flowers and exotic branches on them and not to attack anyone :)
Shockingly, surprisingly our baggages got past the scanning without any questions. Only we had to pay a little for the excess weight of the flower boxes!! Uncle was just happy to hear that everything went smoothly. But I am sure that Ambika who rang up to hear some news of High-Drama-At-The-Airport was a bit too disappointed to know that things passed un-eventfully!!
We took off about 6.30. Once settled, we had the breakfast of sandwiches we bought at the airport. Malathi Sensei was so sweet, she bought Me and Meenu a coffee :)Thanks a lot! There was time for a quick nap and we landed at Delhi. The captain announced that the weather outside was 27 Deg C. It had rained terribly the previous day, so we expected that it will be pleasant outside. But once we were out of the lounge, I had doubts whether the captain was dyslexic!!! I was sweating so very badly! The heat was horrible. And there was this terrible traffic jam outside!
Once we were out of the traffic, we headed towards India International Centre where we were to be accommodated. We passed all the beautiful roads of South Delhi. Being my first visit to Delhi, it was some great feeling when we passed the residences of the MPs and Ministers and all kinds of Embassies !!
Malathi Sensei was very excited – for may reasons. It was in Delhi that she took her Ikebana Lessons some 35 years ago! It is her Mother Chapter. And it was a city where she lived for some years! Delhi did some magic, that the usually media-Shy Malathi Ma'am volunteered for a picture with the flowers :)
The India International Centre is indeed a beautiful place. Situated next to the Lodi Gardens in Max Muller Roads, it has clean and decent rooms, all centrally airconditioned and with a view!! Oh! Except for Shobha & Dally who had to have their curtains tightly drawn all the while! (Sorry ladies - I dont want to speak about the view from your room - the construction scene and the workers going about their bath and so on was not a pleasant one, I agree :) :) I hope you have better luck next time :) :) :) )
We were shown to our rooms and in a short while, we went for lunch at the Dining Hall at the IIC. The dining hall was lovely. The food was tasty and very reasonably priced!!! While the others chose to rest for a while after lunch, I got out to explore the IIC. There were these beautiful Banyan Trees, Lotus Ponds and Gardens amidst quotes of Gandhiji & Martin Luther King.
By about 4.30 pm, Dally and I decided to go for a quick tour of New Delhi. To Janpath, to the Rashtrapathi Bhawan, the India Gate... etc etc. I was really very excited like a small boy !!
I have seen these many times on the TV during Republic Parade. But I must admit that seeing it in person was a great feeling. There was a sudden rush of strong patriotism all through my body, mind and soul!! Standing by the India Gate, I was having tears in my eyes...! Dally did some shopping for beads, necklaces and trinkets to her heart's content at the Janpath Market. After dinner at the centre, we were back and discussed about the plans for the D-Day!!!
From the moment we landed, Mrs Veena Dass called Malathi Sensei so many times to enquire whether we were comfortable and we required anything. It was such great genuine and touching gesture, we would always remember it.. That night also was going to be a not-much-sleep one. We had to be out of our rooms by 5.30am and be at the venue by 6.30 and start arranging.... That, In Part 4 :) Keep reading.