Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And so we went to India

High time I recapped my trip. For M's sake atleast.

So M and I went to India around the thanksgiving weekend last year. It was going to be a short two week visit. So this was the first time M was going to fly and I was, to put it gently, petrified. I didn't know how M would be, how I would be and how the follow passengers would tolerate us. I had been reading as many online resources as possible, talking to all and sundry. Finally it was decided that I definitely needed a bassinet seat, new toys, pacifier (for when the plane took off and landed) and all the other essentials. I had even armed myself with infant benadryl with the recommended dosage in hand.
So the day come, after tearful good byes to Daddy G and Baby N, we got checked in and had some time to kill before boarding. So M and I started roaming around the really pretty terminal D on DFW airport. Close to boarding time, I gave M the benadryl to help her sleep in the plane. (Yes come on judge me, hurl your stones and call me names, see if I care) Just then my sister called and she just said in passing sometimes benadryl backfires and kids get hyper and I said yeah I guess it could happen. So happily and with some difficulty M n I sat down on my seat.
As the plane started taxing, I gave M a bottle to prevent her ears from popping. Once the plane was in the air, M decided this was the best time to show all she had learned in the past 11 months. So we started to play and we played some more. I started getting sleepy..coz you know that's what we do on a plane. But M had decided that wasn't going to nap. So the whole Benadryl thing..completely true. It does backfire *sometimes*!!!! The plane ride was pretty good, the bassinet was pretty useless, M wasn't comfy in it at all. But we didn't mind it, M or I.
On our AMS to DEL flight, we met the best fellow traveler ever. I have forgotten her name and that really sucks and have misplaced the phone number :( She was very helpful and although none of my fellow passengers, in the same row, had kids, they were all very helpful with M and M wasn't howling or screaming either. In the entire flight, M cried once and this was when I was catching my 2nd flight, she was super duper hungry by then and I had to do the security check and the water was thrown away, so I couldn't make formula till we boarded. Poor girl was just not happy and rightly so. But those 15 minutes were all my champion cried.
My friend commented later that we tend to underestimate our kids..they are pretty happy in most situations.

Delhi was as usual wonderful. Just being with my parents and M getting so much love and being pampered by her G Parents. Of course we shopped and again M was a trooper, she would hang out in her baby bjorn sling. BTW, strollers are not useful in Indian markets like Lajpat in Delhi or Crawford and Santa Cruz in Bombay.
I ate a lot!!! All kinds of chaat, Chinese, S. Indian, Pizza, not so much Mughlai (I wasn't keen on it), sizzlers, Rajasthani food, gujju food. I can't remember if there was anything else that we ate. Kanpur was a thrill, although I was there just for a day to visit my Grand Father and Dad's family there. It was a blast. We were treated with a lot of love and care. My nieces took an instinct liking to M and she loved them too. It all worked out well. G Dad was happy to see us too! Of course ;)
We took a flight from Lucknow to Bombay which was routed through Delhi. I have to add here, Indians are not helpful passengers at all. With an infant, stroller and backup, I had my hands full and I needed time to do things. But the person behind me in the line at the security check, was way too impatient. While I struggled to get my luggage on the conveyor, he huffed and puffed twice behind me. I turned around and gave him the apologetic smile, that I have begun to use when I start feeling guilty about inconveniencing people. But he just ignored it and went ahead of me. HOW RUDE! This happened a couple of times, at least. And the worst thing, no one offers to help! But there was something really nice about traveling in Kingfisher airlines. The air hostesses are super sweet and my baby won them over. The food is super excellent, something the US internal flights could learn from. And I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the tickets, plus they didn't charge me for baggage! Beat that over priced, charging for baggage US Airlines.
Bombay is a joy always, we are treated like royalty and we gorged on some of the most delicious street food and home food and not-street food. Great fun! M won the hearts of her Uncle and Auntie and she got to play with all kinds of incredible musical toys. What a joy!
Then we traveled to Jabalpur for my cousin's wedding. This time, I wasn't worried about the train journey, though it was long. 18 hours. The one challenge is using the restroom, where do you park your kid?? But M and I mastered that too! We had a side birth and that is not fun. It's very narrow and M was not happy and neither was I. So she just slept on me. It seemed most convenient. It wasn't the most comfortable journey, but we had fun. M on her second train ride (first was from DEL to KNP). The best part was drinking 'station wali chai'. The best chai there is right!
The wedding was a blast! Met every single member of my family, but 3. How amazing is that? So many new faces, so many old, some new wrinkles, some grey hair, a few extra pounds, a few less pounds. But hearts? Still the same! Big and full of love! M and I were loved and showered like nobody's business. And the best part about traveling with your parents? They will happily look after your kid, even willing take her from you, while you go socialising with the family. My cousin M who was getting married, looked super dashing and a beautiful, smiling bride he had. Again we had amazing food on both the days and then we bid adieu to the family. A very sad good bye.
This train journey was pretty much the same, except, Mom and I gossiped and we had puri and aloo sabzee with chai. Got me super duper nostalgic and happy. But I have to say, these Air-conditioned coaches take the fun out of traveling in a train. To me a train ride is always associated with looking outside the window, and having the air on your face. Calling out to vendors when the train stops and eating all kinds of delicious goodies and buying novels. O well, being climatically conditioned with the heater or cooler isn't that bad either I guess :D
I was very sad to part from my parents, they were even more sad to see M go. She on the other hand was just hanging out in her stroller. My flight to AMS was delayed by 3 hours, which we got to know on reaching the airport. I nonetheless checked in and strolled around the spanking new international terminal in DEL airport. Is it good or is it beautiful. I hadn't had a chance to have McVeggie burger, I greedily had one. M just dozed in the stroller, it was all b/w 12 - 4 am after all. Of course when we boarded the flight, the entire flight was sleepy and M and I were in dream world within a matter of seconds. This time too I made a mad dash to get to mu second flight, since the first flight had been late, we made it just as the security check was happening. KLM flight attendants suck BTW. And EU has very strict policies about carrying liquids on board. Unlike US and India, I couldn't take even water for formula. But they are happy about letting you wear shoes! Haha. O well.
This flight was mostly empty, so M and I stretched out in 5 seats...well we needed only 2, but we had 5 at our disposal!! M played around some, ate some and then fell asleep. When she did, for the first time in 3 flights, I found myself wide awake and nothing to do, so I switched on the in flight entertainment. On the previous 3 flights, I just didn't know where the time went and with M being on my lap, it was hard to eat let alone watch something. So I saw bits and pieces of "Despicable Me". Really cool movie.
We landed in Dallas, in the afternoon on a Sunday. I couldn't wait to unite with the other half of my family. Our very good friend S also came to the airport to receive us. N played it cool, he didn't laugh, grin or cry when he saw me. I on the other hand was a crying mess. They played more cool with each other, M didn't go about hugging N or vice versa. They just got back to playing and within a few minutes fighting. Such an anti climax :D
Our friend A came over with a cake and food. That was super thoughtful.
After everyone had left, I went to take a shower and give M a bath. Because no matter where you go, the best shower head is always at home :)

PS: M didn't have any trouble sleeping with me when in India, or sleeping without me when we got back.
We were completely healthy in India. Yes we did take precautions, but I ate at roadside thelas and such with not a care.
KLM's food while coming back is better than while going.
Some people need to learn manners.
I have super co-operative kids.
G is the best Dad and an even better husband.