Friday, January 2, 2009

Photos - last day in Mumbai

Bob, Dr Sudhir, a very tired me, and an always beautiful and composed Dr Yash.

It was our final day in Mumbai. We received a call from the docs asking us to have lunch with them. Dr S asked me where we would like to go. All I could say by that time was "Anywhere I can eat non-Indian food". Despite loving the stuff, I was well and truly over Indian food and was hankering for a basic ham and cheese sandwich, sans Indian spices. Dr S advised that Agit was on his way to collect us and that we would be going to restaurant in a hotel, the name of which now escapes me. It was next to The Orchid. Agit would know how to get there.

The advised pick-up time came and went. Agit was stuck in Mumbai traffic. Three calls later we were in a cab and on our way to lunch. I have to say, in our short infertility history, whose doctors have ever taken their clients out to lunch? These guys are remarkable. They barely have the time to organise all the legal, financial, medical detail for all clients, then they go that extra step and want to take clients to lunch. Amazing people. Everyone who meets the docs will tell you how great they are. One really has to meet them in person to actually understand and feel how true this is.

Dr S writing me a cheque for $3000, being $1000 for the notepad I swiped at the SI office, and $2000 for hire of a mobile phone.

Can you believe I actually fell for the $2000 fee for hiring the phone? There is no such fee. Dr S was pulling my leg. No-one pulls my leg and gets away with it. Yah - Dr S did, and he won. I thought this fee rather odd, knowing that everything SI charges for is the bare minimum. They have to make a profit to live of course. I was willing to pay the $2000 because I am so grateful to SI, and because Joy wore the straightest face whens he confirmed they had paid $2000 hire for their phone. Ha ha. Joke was on me. I fell for it, though not before the docs, Joy and Tower fell for the quintessential Aussie joke about "Beware of the Drop Bear".

Little Dr Yash, enormous me and Bob. We lunched with another Si client but I have cropped her out of the pic for privacy reasons.

Dr S and Bob. Dr S said something funny to Bob, and his face tells the tale.

Yeah yeah Dr S, Bob believes you.

We arrived at The Orchid, but didn't know where to go. Where was this hotel we were to have lunch at. Dr Yash tells us it is the circular building under construction. The day was humid, I was tired and cranky, and a group of Indian men had gathered around the pair of very obviously lost foreigners telling us "I can help you". We didn't want any help. Finally locating the circular building under construction, we took off looking for the entrance. Wrong way kids! The building was huge and we ended up taking a wrong turn, and had to walk along the main road to the entrance, a walk that took around 15 minutes. I was really pissed off by that stage. of course, twenty or more taxi and rickshaw drivers pulled up alongside us harassing us for a ride. I'd lost all tolerance for that day, the heat, and the rickshaw drivers, who just didn't seem to understand my excellent Indian, as I yelled to them "Nee-hay!" "No". Barking nee-hay the entire route around the building we finally found the entrance. It was to left of where we had been dropped off, but we'd taken a right and scored ourselves a long walk.

Lunch was lovely. A buffet selection of Indian and non-Indian foods greeted us along with the smiles of the doctors and our Kandheri cave travel buddy C. Bob explained to the docs why we were so late, and told them about my brilliant Hindi, that no-one seemed to understand. ha ha ha, joke on me again. The Hindi word for "no" is "nahee" (pronounced nay-hee). I don't know what I was yelling at the drivers,
probably something like "I would love to get in your vehicle", but it certainly wasn't "no".

Back to the hotel after lunch I fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke it was time to pack
and head to the airport for our 2am flight to Dubai. That all went well, but the time came when my friendship with Ajaz turned to business, and he finally tallied the "bill". $2500AUD. Yah right. He had a list and was checking it twice. I also had a list, and the "gifts" which I hastily returned. There was also the "maybe pile" sitting on the counter, comprising pretty much every item I had expressed an interest in, and more. Time to do business the Australian way.

I took his list and a pen, and went through it and crossed of 90 per cent of the items, clearly saying "don't want" again and again as I boldly
cut down the large "maybe pile" to a reasonable "yes pile" , along with the expectations of my shop friends.

Our goodbyes to a very sad Ajaz were made, along with promises to return in February. Email addresses and our home phone number in hand, Ajaz did seem very sad to see us go. He told me he would go home that night and partake in something to help him sleep. "You don't do drugs do you?" I asked. "No, just a bottle of whiskey," he assured me. I asked his cousin to look after him and ensure he didn't take another knife to his throat, and promised Ajaz we would send him photos of our time with him.

The airport
We arrived at the airport and immediately go lost in a wave of people leaving Mumbai for Dubai. The Emirates check-in was long though the service swift. Tired and impossibly cranky, I hung onto Bob relying on him to get me onto the plane and back home. We realised while standing there in that crowded airport how difficult it would be when we are finally on our way home with an infant or infants. A tired-looking couple with two-year old twin girls were up ahead of us. One baby would start fussing and her dad would take her from the pram to comfort her, then the other would chime in with over-tired cries. Bob and I decided then and there that if we had more than one baby to bring home, we would be flying over our friend Stacey to help us. I don't know how the Switzers managed, but admire them for bringing home their twin girls with no help.

We had around an hour's wait in the Emirates departure terminal. Again, we were only two of a handful of white couples waiting to board the two-and-a-half hour flight to Dubai. Once on board the flight, me in my window seat, we left Indian soil and I recall feeling a deep sense of regret that our journey was over. I wanted to go home to my family, and house and animals, but I also wanted to stay. I was going to miss the chaotic spirit of Mumbai, and the colourful characters we had met. I would miss the docs, Agit, and Ajaz and his kissing cousins, also the couples travelling the Indian surrogacy road along with us. I guess Mumbai can grab a person that way, especially when one has such an important reason for being there.

Don't eat the fruit on the plane. I knew as soon as I placed that piece of paw-paw in my mouth there was something very wrong with it. Fifteen hours later when we descended in Perth my stomach was gurgling in a very uncomfortable way. Bob's stomach had been gurgling that same way the whole time in India. He loves spicy food, especially Indian food, and even adds to it a liberal dose of chilli, which his stomach cannot take.

Back on Australian soil I felt relieved, yet sad. I was glad to be home, and really happy to be seeing our doggie later that day, but wondering whether we had actually been in India for ten days. The airport was full of white people, which, by then I was unaccustomed to. The airport was quiet and sane compared to Mumbai and Dubai airports. It was 4am when we landed, and all was so quiet. Our home is a ten minute drive from the airport. We caught a taxi and paid $25!!! for the short ride home. Ouch!

The week after our fantastic Mumbai adventure, I felt disoriented. Perth streets are normally quiet. After ten days in Mumbai our suburb seemed devoid of people, and devoid of life. We live our lives behind the closed doors of our own little castles. Whether our castle is a luxurious mansion, a small and cosy cottage like ours, or an apartment, life in Perth is lived indoors, not out on the streets as in Mumbai. Where were the people? Why was it so quiet? Why did I feel so alone? The silence was truly deafening.

So dear readers, if you've stayed with me this far, this concludes my talk.


Bob said...

The hotel we lunched at was the Sahara Star. I remember because S and I were watching the cricket and I asked if the group that owned the hotel sponsored the Indian cricket team.

Yolanda said...

Hello Amani and Bob, you guys are GREAT. Amani, I really appreciate you sharing your story with audiences including me. Your story and insight is encouraging and we look forward to starting our journey really soon. May this New Year bring you and your family bountiful blessings.

switzertwins said...

Amani, bringing the girls home was actually very uneventful. The staff at the airport were so busy oohing and ahhing over the twins, that they pretty much ushered us through quite quickly. We still had to stand in the long lines but everyone gave us our space, what with all we had with us. And don't let anyone scare you about babies flying and little ears not popping. They are much too young at that point so the change in pressure does not bother them.

I have loved reading your posts, you were much more detailed than I could ever be. Having been to Mumbai and having seen the same things you did, your details really brought out some memories for me. And I thank you for that.


Tigerlilycat said...

What am I going to read now??? Thankfully we're all headed back soon so you'll have even more exciting adventures to share with your cyber friends...