November 5th, 2010
07:10 PM ET
Mumbai, India (CNN) - We made it - after only 17-plus hours in the air. The press corps took off from Andrews Air Force Base early Thursday evening and landed here in Mumbai, India Friday evening after a re-fueling stop in Hahn, Germany, for President Obama's 10-day trip to Asia.
Such a long flight, but what an amazing time to be here. Besides the fact that this is the President's first official trip to India, locals here are celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Even the most humble homes along the road are decorated with strings of bright, Christmas-type lights. Beautiful garlands of flowers draped the doorways. As our bus made its way through the winding roads of this dusty city I couldn't help but imagine myself in a scene right out of a Bollywood movie - huge traffic jams, loud blaring car horns, and families of four traveling in and out of the traffic on mopeds.
The city is just packed to the gills with the intense contrast of modern glass high-rise buildings with Land Rover dealerships on the ground floor - to concrete skeletons of buildings that are all but rubble yet serve as homes to so many people.
As we entered our hotel there was a Rangoli of flower petals and candles on the ground. We were each greeted with leis of marigolds – what a nice touch! We will work into the night as it is only midday in Washington, DC. By the time I get used to the 9.5 hour time difference - yes a half hour mixed in there! - it will be time to go to New Delhi and I'll start counting on my fingers yet again to figure out what time it is.