So as mentioned earlier, I was dreading our annual trip back to India. Well, I’m elated to announce (spoiler alert) that in a historic first, the trip was awesome! That’s the short version. The long version is the rest of this post.
It helped that I got my period before the trip, so I didn’t have the usual immunity drop during which time I’m susceptible to any bug and the two days of pain.
It helped that the kids slept through the flight and so did we, and then they slept at home for a decent amount of hours again so that we were reasonably well rested at the start of our trip.
It helped that the kids were older, did not wake up at night for a feed (or to pee even, and never wet the bed once), went off happily with relatives and entertained each other. Although they had dropped their nap, V and I could alternate and handle both the kids if either one of us wanted a nap in the day, though a good night’s sleep meant that we could survive without.
It helped that one of us, or my parents, or V’s sister could take over all the kids and the other person could go out and hang with friends. As a result, I met Curly, not once, not twice, but three whole times this trip! Credit goes to Curly for persisting on this, because I was too chicken to even imagine that this could be a possibility, and to V for gamely taking over the kids while I had those much-needed catch-ups.
It helped that I insisted we all sleep in the least dusty room in in-laws house so at least V and I never got a cold (Christmas miracle!). Also as suggested by 30in2005, I took Vitamin C, gave the kids their multivitamin, and later started on enterogermina. The kids did fall sick, but just for a day at a time.
Our hopes for a peaceful trip were kindled on the first two days we spent in Bombay that went by surprisingly peacefully. My kids were obsessed with the numerous cats and one dog in our building compound, and going for car and auto rides to Bandstand and Carter Road. Our building Christmas party happened at the time, and the kids got their gifts from Santa (ironically played by my dad, who the kids did not recognize, though they commented on Santa wearing dark glasses at night). The party happened at Indian Standard Time which meant that it was supposed to start at 7 pm (an absurd time to start a party for kids IMO) but actually started at 8.30 pm after numerous appeals on the microphone for residents to come down. Then once enough people had gathered, the choir that was supposed to sing was late! I could only laugh, but Mimi fell asleep in the waiting, and awoke with a start only when Santa arrived in our neighbour’s car. We left the party after doing the birdy dance with some of our old neighbours. It was a sweet start to our trip, giving me the opportunity to chat with neighbours and give my ex boyfriend’s wife the side eye. After that one day, Mimi asked me if grandma had 89 friends and I had 50 friends. I don’t think they have said hello to so many people in their entire lives in Hong Kong.
We left for Bangalore after two days, and V expressed the (premature, I thought) belief that Bangalore would be even easier. I shushed him, partly superstitiously but also because it has never been so. But it was! My in-laws house has a yard and now the kids are old enough to run around in it with us only vaguely watching them from indoors. My FIL has two cars parked in the yard and Nene spent hours in them pretending to drive. Then nieces came over and basically it was a riot. Then FIL bought the kids a mini electric car and bike, and we basically saw them every few hours. (“This from a man who never bought us a pin when we were little” commented SIL on the expensive purchase for the grandkids.) The in-laws house was less dusty than usual and the new maid seems better. We spent the whole day of Christmas at one SIL’s and then two days at the other’s house, during which time we finally went to Cubbon Park and it was lovely. V and I also went for the Star Wars movie with BIL, leaving SIL to fend for herself with four kids. Weirdly, I’ve never been into Star Wars but I might be now. I also managed to get a haircut I’ve been hankering after but never able to get in Hong Kong.
V and I celebrated 10 years of marriage and it was sweet. We had a screaming fight on Christmas day over V shouting at me over a towel, or the absence thereof (I had made off with his towel while he was in the bath, but the reaction was not warranted), but we made up, and I guess that is what is different in our relationship now. We make up fairly quickly. We celebrated our anniversary with the in-laws (whose anniversary we share) at their farm and it was a lovely day, with the kids going gaga grabbing sundry chickens and goats and feeding cows. They also did a round of fireworks at the end.
Back in Bombay, I’ll admit I missed the freedom of just vegging (I read a two whole novels in Bangalore), and the kids got a little stir-crazy in the smaller house, especially the first day and a half when we were mostly at home. However, after New Years I started the round of visits to my relatives and it was fine. This Bombay trip was a bit of revisiting my old childhood haunts – our building, but also horse and mini Ferriss Wheel rides at Almeida Park, Juhu Beach (where I confess I paid a guy to make a monkey dance and then felt terrible about it later, and the kids didn’t even enjoy the performance), and Joggers Park where the kids spent so much time talking to the geese that they didn’t even get to climbing frame.
Did I mention I saw Curly thrice? Once over coffee, then we got a pedicure together (something I can’t recall ever doing) and then dinner and drinks with a friend, who shared some news that made me so happy. I also met another friend for a very long coffee.
The trip going well made it easier for me to imagine us living there, but after eight days, I kind of wanted to go back home to Hong Kong. I was actually missing work. I guess it helps to have work you actually want to do (though now that I’m back home, I’m showing no inclination to do any work).
Food wise, we binged on Indian Chinese, ticked the Nagarjuna box (I did not enjoy the meal because the kids were exhausted and Mimi kept kicking me), tried Bangalore’s version of fried chicken, ate at Peshawari in the ITC Maratha Sheraton, ate a superb Goan meal at my aunt’s, ate a variety of dosas and idlis, finally tried Candies (where I giggled at a bunch of old Goan aunties and uncles telling their trendy niece “what? No, I don’t want an omelette!”, ate a fabulus Gujarthi thali (at Raj Bhog, Khar).
Is it any wonder that my stomach collapsed? I had one bout of puking and diarrhoea mysteriously after the coffee with a friend and then dinner at home. I rested my tummy only briefly before going off for a five-star lunch. I was fine, except I pushed it and had squid again at dinner and a drink with Curly and another friend, and the next day I was puking non-stop. This might have been okay had I not been travelling that night. I was puking half-an-hour before we left for the airport nad completely dehydrated when we got there. By some miracle, V managed to get me a wheelchair, a blessing because then Nene started puking so I could have him on my lap while V carried a sleeping Mimi. My limbs had gone numb and leaden and I was convinced I had dengue (a paranoid fear of mine, not eased by the fact that I had just heard that our BIL’s cousin had shockingly died from two days earlier on a family reunion in Goa). Thankfully, a couple of hours into the flight, the leaden feeling eased and I didn’t puke at all. I dined only on Pepsi with ice, the first time I’ve ever flown and not eaten a meal (I love airline food.)
We are back in HK, Mia is reunited with her Tita, Nene is whizzing his toy trains off to Bandstand, and we are sleeping like logs (I slept till 9 am today, something I haven’t done in years). It’s a little quiet, but it’s good to be home.