Saturday, May 4, 2013

Back again

We made it safely back to New York!

Our cab got to us at our apartment in Bangalore right on 230am. Oy. Brief pause here while I shout out to YourCabs! We used this cab company exclusively whenever we needed a car in India. They took all four of us to sites around Bangalore, to Mysore, and drover Robert literally all over the city. They were never late, and always got us where we needed to (and back again) safely. So if you need a cab service in Bangalore I highly recommend them!

Anyway, our driver showed up on time. The guy manning the desk in our building (actually napping on one of the couches in the reception area, but who could blame him??) came out to say good-bye and make sure that we and our 11 suitcases got packed properly into the SUV. Ten of the suitcases fit fine, but the 11th had to go on the roof rack. The driver made no move to tie it down, and when Robert asked he assured us it was unnecessary. The desk guy agreed. "Sir," he said to Robert, "It is relatively impossible for the suitcase to fall off."

Robert looked unconvinced, but in the end we left it as it was and got in the car and drove away from IISc.

In the daytime, not at rush hour, it takes an hour to get from our apartment in Bangalore to the airport. at 245am it takes 35 minutes! So we got there in plenty of time, unloaded our bags, put them onto carts and headed in.

At the British Airways line a representative came over to ask if we'd checked in online. I explained that Robert and I had, but that due to a mistake by the travel agent our kids were listed as traveling alone and I couldn't check them in (I'd slept for about 90 min that night, and all my dreams were of oversold flights and kids, not checked in, having been bumped). He called a woman over and I explained again. She went to talk to a desk agent, then came back and cut us to the front of the executive class line. Fancy!

The desk agent confirmed my fears by telling me the flight was oversold by 20 passengers and asking if we wanted to fly to Mumbai and take a later flight to London. I declined, as it would have meant missing our connection to New York, and she quite unsurprised. She was able to put me and the kids in a row of 3 seats together for the flight to London, and one child with one parent for the flight to JFK, so that was all alright. She also begged us to check some of our carry on luggage due to the fullness of flight, which we did. Then we headed for customs and immigration. Because you have to do that to leave India, as well as enter it!

The customs and immigration officer we had was thoroughly unimpressed that I did not have a Foreign Registration certificate. My visa didn't require one, and hell if I was going to spend a day doing paperwork and waiting in lines if I didn't have to! He shook his head at me in annoyance and sorrow however, and then told me, rather irritably, to stand somewhere else. Apparently the spot I'd occupied for the first 10 minutes was only for people with an FRO certificate ;)

But, my shortcomings aside, we got through alright and went to the gate. Then we looked around for a place to change our remaining rupees. Fail! Turns out that currency can only be changed *before* you go through customs. India does not allow the exportation of rupees, so this surprised me. It also surprised me that no one had asked us if we had any on us! That was kind of a bummer actually, as we now have a bunch of rupees.

At any rate, the flight to London was great. BA has better seats and more legroom than Lufthansa, and they had tons of movies we all wanted to watch, so the 10.5 hours passed surprisingly quickly. Then we had about 90 minutes at Heathrow (which we used to buy chocolates), and we were on to New York. That flight was totally fine too, though I felt quite badly for the woman sharing the row with me and Liel. We were both coughing, sneezing, and blowing our noses every few minutes and she looked rather dismayed when we started in. Poor lady. I wouldn't have wanted to sit next to us either!

Customs in the US was a breeze, which was great. Our luggage was all there, the customs agent was cheerful and friendly, and we were on our way!

Driving back was interesting. The route between our house and JFK is familiar, but it didn't feel a bit like returning home. I imagine if we'd flown into LAX that might've been different, but as it stood I had no real emotional response to returning.

We've been home for about one and quarter days now and I feel much the same. Parts of being back are fabulous! I've talked to my parents on the phone, eaten salad, chatted with neighbors and arranged to see friends. We met our new mailman who seems nice (and has some big boots to fill...our old mailman was the best!), and sat in the sun enjoying the amazing May sunshine. We've unpacked, done many a load of laundry (and have many more to go), and enjoyed the miracle of the washing machine and dryer. Every time I've brushed my teeth I've looked around for the bottled water, and felt amazed and grateful when I realized I could just stick my brush under the tap.

But...I miss Bangalore. I miss the food, and the people, and the amazing colors and vibrancy. I miss the streets and the autos and the saris. I guess it will always be this way for me now, and I hope that someday I will go back.

And in the meantime, I will appreciate the amazing leafing spring trees, the flowers, the crisp air and being home in the US of A after an amazing, blessed adventure! 


CoffeeInspired said...

Welcome home! I was anxious to read about kids and flight check in and so glad all worked out fine. I've enjoyed reading your adventures and seeing the photos, look forward now to seeing you in person and hearing more about it.

Joanne Young said...