My Passage to India

I arrived in Delhi this morning (Wed, January 7th) with a little bit of excitement. The first two legs of my journey went pretty smoothly, as Emirates Airlines lived up to its reputation in terms of service along the SFO – Dubai and Dubai – Delhi legs. The food was good, as evidenced by the masala dosa they provided for breakfast (and there was more of it than I usually see in airline meals)! The seats are also a bit unlike other airlines’, in that when you push the seat back, the seat bottom moves forward too, so that it makes more of a natural reclining chair.

I had about 8 hours to kill in the Dubai airport, but it wasn’t actually too hard to pass the time. Because of the layover, the airline provided a free meal in the Emirates buffet restaurant. I wasn’t too surprised to see a Starbucks and Burger King in the very clean and modern airport, but I was a bit surprised to see Baskin Robbin’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Cinnabon as well. While waiting, I finished reading A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster, given to me by Jesse before I left. It was a pretty good book overall – some moments where it gets a bit heavy-handed or the dialogue is more stilted than it probably ought to be, but it doesn’t detract much from the overall effort. I’ve still got Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize winning The White Tiger and the Library of America’s collection of Raymond Chandler’s Stories and Early Novels. After my loss to Friedel in round 6 of the Berkeley Masters tournament, I read Chandler’s Trouble is My Business in the evenings, so I decided to finish up with the rest of his short stories and also finish some of his novels.

I got to my hotel in Delhi a bit before noon today. I had lunch at Saravana Bhavan, a chain of South Indian style restaurants that has a branch in the Bay Area. The food was pretty reasonable, although the utthapam was miniscule for the price. I had to order a second dish after seeing it. My company though, was rather amusing – thanks to the organizer Bharat Singh showing up at my hotel, he took me to lunch with GMs Krishnan Sasikiran, Koneru Humpy, Chanda Sandipan, Neelotpal Das, and IM Ravi Lanka. These players don’t all live in Delhi, but thanks to the Indian system of salaried jobs for chessplayers from big-name companies, they all were in Delhi for a company outing with their sponsor, ONGC. After lunch, we congregated outside for a bit, where to our surprise, we were joined by GMs Elizbar Ubilava (Anand’s former second) and Abhijeet Gupta (the current World Junior Champion, and winner of the 2008 Parsvnath Open with a massive 9.0/10). They had eaten there as well (but on the first floor, so we missed them) after doing some preparation for Corus. The restaurant certainly doesn’t get that strong a chess clientele in Sunnyvale …

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