Monday, 5 December 2011

India Vacation

A not to be missed family wedding in Nov at Allahabad was approaching – so I set out to plan the travel circuit around it. My absence of “job” meant that I could stretch my Delhi visit to three weeks followed by Allahabad Pune trip when joined by Aamir.  The business of Aamir’s dinner for three weeks (that I was away) was taken care of when I found a desi thali supplier from the same apartment block; gave all the required instructions to my house keeper on how to get that arranged on a daily basis. My suitcase was packed with Kenyan tea and Macadamia nuts (my first experience with these nuts was in Mumbai Nairobi Kenya Airways flight and I loved them from that day onwards, they proved to be a great hit with every body in India). Interestingly we were told that while going to India if we have a lot of luggage – beyond the allowed limit, there are contacts in Nairobi airport who could ensure that there are no questions asked on excess baggage; thankfully there was no need for any such measure.

Finally the day came for my first international travel “alone with baby”.  The scheduled departure was at five forty five in the evening. We started at around 2.30 PM with ample buffer for the traffic (the buffer was very much required). Nairobi airport luckily allowed Aamir in till the check in point – I breathed a sigh of relief. We worked through the check in queue amidst the prevailing chaos. Adi in his stroller was getting very restless with the pace of events. I was all equipped to entertain him - with paper, pens, sketch pens, toy animals and what not. I said my prayers silently at the end of each milestone: check in done, immigration done, found the elevator for stroller and security check done, finally the signal to onboard and seated in flight. I geared myself up for the five and half hours flight. Post flight take off, the gentleman in the next seat realized the hazard of sitting next to a baby who was pressing all his TV channel buttons and immediately found himself a better seating option. So I got two adjacent seats to myself and Adi had space to stretch himself while sleeping. I realized he had started to get a temperature (the signs were all there since morning); I was counting minutes to land. At one point, Adi woke up and started howling “Aeroplane me susu ho gaya” (“Susu done in aeroplane”) waking up all the dozing neighbours. Much awaited Mumbai landing happened and with the help of staff I managed the immigration, baggage clearance and customs. At around three thirty in the morning, when I got inside my brother in law’s car with a cranky baby, I looked back at the journey and thanked my stars – could have been much worse. Not too bad – made it!

Mumbai to Delhi next day was uneventful – thank God for the small mercies. Adi’s temperature came down to normal level the next day itself. But there was surprise waiting in another quarter – the temperature was rising somewhere else. The news that Kenya had sent its armed forces inside Somalia stunned just about every body.

We could successfully complete the Mumbai-Delhi-Allahabad-Delhi-Pune-Mumbai circuit. Adi on his journey to India was still under two; he had no seat (and hence minimal additional cost). On his journey back, he got a seat for himself (we could no longer avoid the cost since he turned two while in India) and additional 40 Kgs checked in baggage. The additional baggage allowed came very useful to pack “clothes shopping” from India for Aamir and Adi (thankfully insignificantly for me since no office dresses required); and all the household items from Pune which we should have brought the first time itself (my wish list had a lot more but I will make do with what we could carry). And I am lucky, my friends are visiting us at Nairobi from Delhi in Dec. So strategically I have given them two heavy bags to carry – Adi’s collection of presents and my woollens which I had earlier thought would not be required in Africa!

Pouring rains and chilly winds greeted us at Nairobi (so much for the summer season). Our driver was smiling end to end – God’s blessing for the harvest. Within a few hours of reaching, both Aamir and I could sense the absence of two things ubiquitous in the cities we visited in India: dust and noise – everything around appeared to be so quiet all of a sudden. In a short few weeks in India, Adi’s whispers had transformed to shouts. Well time to change back!

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