Tuesday morning entailed sorting out a final few things for Lucy before Dr Samir Dwivedi arrived from International SOS to take Lucy to London. The ambulance set off through the New Delhi traffic at about 8:30am – with the siren whining at various intervals as we sat stuck in jams…. About an hour later Lucy and Dr Dwivedi were deposited at the International airport, goodbyes were said and I was then taken back to the hospital in the ambulance.
Later in the day I “volunteered” to repack Chris’s wing, as it had only been roughly packed after his crash. This was to primarily try and reduce the bulk so other things could be also packed into the PG carry bag. A large area was found in the basement next to a café area, where I then proceeded to disentangle the lines and then concertina fold the wing. This caused a considerable amount of interest from passing Indians!
Ozzie Chris: “It would be fantastic to have a Kingfisher beer with our Indian meal tonight – afterall, it IS our last night in India. However, if you don’t want to go out a find some beer that’s okay.” Chris says this from his bed, whih he is confined to with three compressed vertebrae…. How could I say no! So I venture out of the Max Super Speciality Hospital for the second time that day just as it is starting to get dark, and having NO idea as to WHERE beer could be obtained. Earlier in the day I had enquired as to where I could possibly find an internet “café’” and had been given vague directions as to where one may be. My supposition was that if there were internet cafés in that direction then there would probably be bottle stores too.
I turned right down a small “alleyway” that was chock-full of pedestrians, tuk-tuks, and bicycle rickshaws. I explored down this street for about five minutes then asked at a store where a wine or beer shop would be – they waved me on staying continue to the “circle” further up, then catch a taxi towards what sounded like the “car mart”. Five minutes walking and I arrived at the indicated round-about, but none of the tuk-tuk drivers could understand English….. Three Indian guys came to my rescue and assured me that it was only five minutes further walk to the market, where a bottle store would be found. What seemed more like 10 minutes or more of walking I seemed to be in the centre of a market area, with many street stalls selling delicious looking deepfried foods, feshly sliced pineapples wafting alluring aromas and other interesting looking fruits. A query at another shop had the bottle store “only” another two blocks down the road…. An then I spotted it. It contained rows upon rows of whiskey bottles – and I had to wonder whether I had found a whiskey shop or a bottle store! Down the back I asked for two bottles of Kingfisher Strong, and the Indian guy plunged his hand into a large barrel filled with ice and withdrew two bottles. 90 rupees (about NZ$3) later I was on my way out looking for a tuk-tuk back to the hospital – one was rapidly flagged down and we were off down the road dodging pedestrians, cars, rickshaws and other tuk-tuks…. In short order I was delivered back to the “Max” and then smuggling the beer into the hospital!
Chris was very pleased to see me with beer in hand – the bottles were opened in a very short time and we were toasting our time in India – but with the hiding places for the bottles nearby in case nurses came in! Eventually our Indian meal came at about 8:20pm - there are three choices – European, Indian vegetarian or Indian non-vegetarian [an interesting distinction!] and we finished the beer off with the meal.
The next task was to then pack all of Chris’s gear into his paraglider bag, and this was accomplished with judicious stuffing and pushing of clothes and gear into the nooks and crannies of the harness and wing - then it was time for an early night as Chris had to be at the airport at 4:45am the next morning.
Wednesday 12 November
At 1am the phone went off – it was a call from accounts saying that Chris needed to pay for the ambulance that was going to take him to the airport. Chris patiently explained that East West (his medical insurance provider) were providing their own ambulance – and that he didn’t need or want the Max ambulance. At 2pm the phone went off again - accounts having another question about the ambulance - a not so patient response was given...
At 3am the phone went off again, this time requesting Chris to come down to obtain his discharge forms – he patiently explained that he was confined to bed and this wasn’t possible! I suggested that I would be able to do that a little closer to when we intended leaving. At 3:30am I reluctantly got up – and headed off to the Accounts Section (which runs 24/7!) Chris’s bill, which was being fully picked up by his insurance company, came to R51,000 – about NZ$1600 for a seven night stay!
Dr Singe and his accompanying nurse arrived about 4:15 and Chris was then bundled into the waiting ambulance. It was decided that with my paraglider and large suitcase that there was too much for me to also get in also – so I was to follow in a taxi. I tried phoning for a taxi unsuccessfully, then one of the security guards said that they would get a taxi for me. Five minutes later an unmarked car turned up, with the driver wrapped up in a blanket, and shivering in the cold. The agreed fare was R450. Just before we arrived at the airport he asked if I could pay before we arrived – as it was illegal for unlicensed taxis to drop people at the airport, and if asked to say he was a friend dropping me off! I found the ambulance outside Gate 3 as promised – where we proceeded wait for about 90 minutes while all the immigration procedures were sorted out. Eventually the ambulance moved off to deliver Chris to his Singapore Air flight (from which nine seats had been removed for his stretcher), and I headed off to check in for my Luthansa flight to Copenhagen.