India / Thoughts / Travel

We’re Here

Hi.  Greetings from Mother India.

Or rather from a little oasis of 1950’s Americana located in India.

Jet lag is a witch.  I suck at it every time.  I don’t nap during the day, I don’t sleep at night and thus, at this point, I have all the mental faculty of a prehistoric slug masquerading as a walking, talking human being.

Nonetheless, a few (ok, a lot of) bullet points from the past few days:

*Call it “mother’s intuition” or sheer dumb luck but I sat up straight in bed the night before we left D.C. panicking over whether I had packed the baby nasal saline spray for the plane.  Sure enough, as we waited for our plane to board, Will started sneezing…great gobs of yellow snot all over my dinner.

*Within a few hours of takeoff, Will had thrown up on me twice (that’s what I get for doing a fashion-related post!) and come down with a raging fever.  One dose of non-recalled baby Tylenol wasn’t enough to get his fever down, so 4 hours later I asked Chris for a second dose..which led to a 3 hour search for where on the damn plane the bottle of medicine may have rolled to.  Picture a screaming baby, glaring fellow passengers, annoyed stewardesses.   It was about as theatrically cliche as a bad flying-with-baby story can get.

*In Frankfurt, we consulted Google on Will’s cold/fever.  Turns out the prevailing interwebs opinion on traveling with a sick baby is that one is apparently supposed to cancel all travel plans and stay home.    Very helpful.

*I’m a bit perversely relieved though that we finally have our own horrendous flying-with-kids story.  Will has always been such a good traveler that it’s almost embarrassing.  It’s, of course, nice that people come up to us after long-haul flights to tell us how “well-behaved” Will is; but the constant, nerve-wracking anticipation I always felt worrying about whether this flight would finally be the one I’d been dreading for so long was actually almost as painful as when the worst actually did happen.  Turns out, I really, really don’t care what other people think when it’s my sick baby who is screaming.

*We landed in Delhi at 2am on Friday morning.  At 2:30 am the only thing I was cognizant-enough to notice was that our sponsor’s husband was wearing the exact same shoes as Chris.  A fact I shared only about 3 paces after “Hi, nice to meet you.”  Oh well.

*Our sponsors seem like super, super people, we really like them.  They have the sweetest, most wonderful dogs I’ve ever met (I’m not usually a pet person) and their daughter is 6 months younger than Will and absolutely adorable.  Crossing fingers that we get to hang out with them again.

*I don’t think there’s a writer who’s ever come to India and not made at least a passing comment about what India smells like.  India smells so strongly, so uniquely like no other place on Earth that it’s unforgettable to anyone who visits.  Scents are so emotional and they color our memories of a place like few other sensory experiences can.

*To me, India smells like a heady mix of burning garbage, sandalwood, decaying leaves and incense.  The smell pervades everything, everywhere, except the most aggressively air-conditioned of places.  It makes the air feel so heavy you can practically feel the weight of it on your shoulders and taste it every time you open your mouth..  You can smell it the instant the plane cabin depressurizes at the airport.  It smells like home now.

*Speaking of home, it was a very different first day here in New Delhi than we experienced in Chengdu, in so many ways.  We arrived at our new townhouse at 3 in the morning on Friday.  At 9ish, this lovely, sweet lady brought over some (delicious!) muffins.  By 2pm I’d already had 6 workmen over.  At 3pm, we took Will to the Med Unit (amazing people, wonderful facility, 15 feet behind our backyard).  At 4pm Chris’ sister came over.  At 6pm some friends from Chengdu stopped by and by 8pm we’d already fended off offers to employ 5 different gardeners (which we’ll do eventually, just not today).  Barely 12 hours in country and it felt like we’d already been here for months.  Weird I suppose, but wonderful.

* I like our house.  I like the compound.  I think I’d go stir-crazy if I had to stay here day in and day out but, after Chengdu, I can appreciate exactly how nice it is to be able to come home to a place where everything works and things are comfortable.  Are we “in India” when we are here?  Not really, but I’m counting on the fish-bowl nature of the place to keep us out and about around town.

*Dude, our couches.  They are exactly the same ugly GSO couches everyone gets, but after the faded red-and-gold, torn-up, 18 year old sofas we had in Chengdu, they look so beautiful to me!  We’ll be slip-covering as soon as we can, but I’m just grateful for now that I can sit down on them without feeling like I need to take a shower afterwards.

*Will is still recovering from his cold-turned-ear-infection but he seems to like it here.  True, he kind of likes it everywhere (that’s not an airplane) but he seems to get that this is “home.”  Between the move-across-the-world and feeling so crap-tastic, he’s mostly clinging to me around the clock, but that’s ok.  I like watching him as he tests out all of the drawers, measures the distance from couch to coffee table, and smiles when I tell him that we are “home” now.

*Not entirely on topic but: Will doesn’t talk at all yet and so it’s sometimes hard to figure out exactly how much he understands.  Yesterday was a big day though.  When Chris’ sister was here, we asked Will “where’s ahyee [auntie]?”  He turned around and pointed straight to her.  It was the first time he’s really responded to a question from us and I had no idea how meaningful that would be.

*Our air shipment should be here within a week or so.  Our stuff from China arrives on the 5th.  Amazing.  We lived in Chengdu for nearly four months with just the clothes we packed in our suitcases (and that wasn’t long to wait for stuff in Chengdu!), so this all feels so, so quick.  Honestly, between the med unit and the speed of shipment and the gigantic facilities crew and the ability to get mail more than once a week and the commissary, I’m in total awe of big Embassy living.  I’m also really glad that this wasn’t our first Post, it makes us appreciate everything a lot more.

Sorry for all of the random ramblings.  Today we’re going into town to get some shopping done (for garbage pails-yay!).  More (and more coherent ramblings) coming soon.


18 thoughts on “We’re Here

  1. Wish I could write under the best of conditions as well as you can while jet-lagged, or have as much to say. You’re inspiring me to “ramble”. My brain is still a bit numb and can only handle posting photos. We got the gold couches which are actually ok, except for the matching gold and brown striped armchairs (that unfortunately can’t be slip-covered). Nothing tops the lamps though, State buys the ugliest lamps!

      • The lamps are truly awful. Only to be outdone by the dining room set, in my opinion. Excited to hear how your spruce it up!

        Congrats on surviving the flight! The way I prep myself is by accepting that it may very well be the worst 24 hours of my life, but it will only be 24 hours and then it will be over. Then it never seems quite so bad.

      • I totally do that thing with the “this will be the worst 24 hours but it’s only 24 hours” thing too!! It helps, it really does. I’m working on before and after pictures for this house…should be fun!

  2. I am very impressed you had the energy to sit down and document your first days. I always wish I had written more down during those crazy times but I never could and we never had internet. I hope you get past the jet leg fast. I am terrible at it too.

    Love your description of the smell of India. Ethiopia has a smell too. It’s wood fires and berbere (the spices here). It smells like home too.

    So sorry about Will’s ear infection, you know that must have killed his sinuses and ears on the flights. Poor guy!

    Happy first day!!!

    • I always feel extra prolific when I”m punch drunk on a lack of sleep 🙂 Would love to visit Ethiopia after all of your descriptions and yes, feel horrible about poor Will’s ears on teh plane! He just doesn’t complain much and I think he suffers so much more than we give him credit for sometimes. Poor kiddo!

  3. I know I’m must a few houses down but we just got back from Jaipur and it’s late, so I wanted to tell you not to get a garbage pail if you haven’t yet because we have two and would gladly give you one of them. Also, our gardener lost some of his clients and has asked me if I knew someone that’s looking. He’s very quiet and pretty decent. He’s already planted some veggies in our garden and will be planting more as soon as the monsoon season is over. Let me know if you’re interested.

    • Thanks so much Daniela! How was Jaipur?? Just facebooked you, no need for pails (we found some at INA yesterday) but would lovet o meet your gardener. Lunch this week? Happy Eid! 🙂

  4. glad you’ve arrived safely and I too am impressed at your ability to get some thoughts down on “paper”. Good luck settling in, sounds like a good landing so far!

    • (oops- Didn’t mean to send that so soon) Glad to hear you guys have made it safely. Just home from a little vacation myself and catching up on blogs. Have fun settling in. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more!

      • Yay! Can’t wait to hear about your vacay!!! (and yes, mail more than once a week, absurd! As is the club, beauty salon, bar, bowling alley, swimming pool, bookstore, library, travel shop, comissary and med unit all on compound. Bid Delhi?!?!) 🙂

  5. I’m sorry to hear your son was so sick on what was already a stressful journey. But how wonderful to be so far from “home” and find familiar faces. What a fortuitous thing to have family in such a far-flung corner of the world.
    I, too, am amazed and impressed by your posting commitment!

  6. Pingback: Notable in 2012 | Hot Pot

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