#TravelTuesday: Jacob Price-Ahmedabad, India
Today we share Jacob Price's story of his journey to Ahmedabad, India, filled with malfunctioning SIM cards, ambiguous addresses, and some frisbee! Send us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your story published!
Almost 3 years ago, I was approached by my buddy on a rooftop, who let me know that a team he was involved with in India was looking for a full-time coach. At the time, I was working a job I was pretty sure I'd quit, so I agreed to go there for 6 months to coach pending how an interview with the company I currently work at went. As the previous sentence alludes to, I got the job and had to change plans.
Meeting the kids before the clinics
At the time, I was playing for the NY Rumble, so I decided to bring a few of my teammates out to Ahmedabad, India to teach the team and run some clinics. It ended up being 6 of us traveling around the entire state for a month coaching 5 different teams, running 2 weekend long clinics, and meeting with about 15 different schools in the area promoting the sport. You can read more about the goals of the trip from our old GoFundMe Page here. We'll be releasing a documentary on the trip shortly.
The Trip Plan:
This past January, I decided to do a follow-up trip to Ahmedabad. But, this time it was 2 weeks long and I brought an entire team with me to compete in the Ahmedabad Ultimate Open (sort of the equivalent to the US Open in India). We drew talent from all over the world including people I knew in New York, Philly, Colorado, Indonesia, Korea, and of course, India.
The plan was, since I was the only one (with the exception of the Indian players who joined us later in the trip and one other guy who came on the trip last year) that knew anything about the geography/transportation situation in rural India, I would pick everyone up from the airport as they arrived. The short of it is that addresses are kind of subjective and you need to tell cab/rickshaw/Uber drivers a nearby landmark in order to get to where you want to go. Otherwise,everyone would be lost. For example, our address was "The Nandigram Society across the train tracks near the Vijay Nagar Primary School." You also have to hope that someone nearby can translate that into Gujurati for you if you weren't a native speaker. We had 3 translators for the group.
As everyone's travel plans started to come together, I realized that this meant I would be making 4 separate trips to the airport after landing there myself. So, after spending about 24 hours on planes to get to the Ahmedabad airport, this was my pick-up schedule:
- Get in at 6pm on the 19th with Ryan
- Pick up Adi at 6:30am on the 20th
- Pick up Amy at 6:25pm on the 20th
- Pick up Mike at 12:45am on the 21st (night of the 20th)
- Pick up Pick up Marlie, Lorenzo, and Mike 2 at 2:20pm on the 22nd
- Hope the rest of the team meets up with us at some point in the trip (we had a vague plan for each player)
Keep in mind that every day, we had a full schedule of activities including leading practices for local teams, running clinics, and prepping to play in this tournament.
Guests of honor at the beginning of a clinic
Dude, This is India:
"Dude, this is India." This was the most common phrase uttered by any of our local Indian friends on the ground helping us out. It was their way of saying, "Take your plans and throw them out the window."
The trip started out surprisingly well with Ryan and me getting in on time and Ubering to the house we were staying in (very generously lent to us by a friend). Of course, I forgot to get a SIM card when I got to the airport and the house was not equipped with any sort of WIFI. So, I just had to trust that Adi would be at the airport at 6:30am the next morning.
I woke up at 4am and rode to the airport to get her. Luckily, Adi's flight was on time and she was able to find us. The SIM card place wasn't open so early in the morning, so I had to wait until the pickup with Amy that evening to get it. So, we take Adi around the Gandhi Ashram and meet up with 2 other players who were already in the area. So far so good.
That evening I pick up Amy and we both purchase SIM cards. She gets hers at 7:55pm and it works fine. I get my card at 8:03pm and am told I had to wait 24 hours for it to activate because the office technically closed at 8pm. But, whatever. 2 for 2 on pickups and I can get Amy to hotspot for me in case of emergencies.
So, I just had to trust, again, that Mike would be at the airport at 12:45am that night. This time, though, no one showed up. Keep in mind I'm responsible for all of these people coming to a foreign country with no markings in English and whose infrastructure is based in relative locations. I'm freaking out. I run around begging random people (very few of whom speak English) to hotspot for me. Finally I get someone to agree and find out that Mike had missed his flight and would be landing that morning at 6am. So, I go home, sleep for 2 hours, go back to the airport, find him, and then we take a cab straight to a clinic that ALL of the local teams attended at 8am.
Our first clinic at 8am after Mike's flight landed. It went for 6 hours!
Of course, my SIM card never starts working. I go to the airport for the final pickup and they aren't there. None of them. I start freaking out again, but then realize that there is a domestic terminal that they could be at since their connecting flights were through Delhi. I get there and, thank goodness, they are all there. I pick them up and then visit the stand to try to get my SIM card working again. They do something to it and say that I have to wait ANOTHER 24 hours.
Lavad Primary School at the end of a clinic
The SIM card never ends up working and I spend the entire trip shuttling an entire team of people around India without the ability to contact anyone unless I connected to WIFI. The trip ended up being a success anyway, but only because my teammates were all amazing and willing to deal with things like being stranded in unknown areas for hours at a time while we desperately search for WIFI connections.
Travel is sometimes hard. Travel with an entire team to a foreign country that mostly doesn't speak English is really hard. But, ultimate players are wonderful travel companions. We ended up having a really incredible trip thanks to everyone's flexible attitudes, our team of ultimate players helping us out on the ground, and the entire state's open welcome of our crew.
Also, pre-order sim cards whenever possible.