India Adventure begins with a big b(h)ang!
I couldn’t have wished for a better start for our India adventure than Holi- the colorful festival that signifies the arrival of spring. We were welcomed by the folks at Jayabheri (the complex where we will be staying for next 4 months) with organic colors, pichkaris, bhaang and Bollywood style dancing with music blaring out of two giant loud speakers while we were soaked to the skin! Varun had blast stomping his feet in water and went running behind the folks who were dumping water or springing water from a hose!
And in true desi style, there were snacks and drinks followed by a buffet lunch.
But, this is not how the day began.
The day actually began with us landing at Hyderabad airport at 2:45 am or some such time. Hyderabad airport is cleanest airport in India – which I expected based on our prior visit in Dec. We were not greeted by the sticky heat that is associated with Mumbai airport, it was hot in the airport. I am sure that AC’s were on, but with 4-5 international flights landing at about the same time, the place was teeming with people. We didn’t want to deal with handling carts, bags and Varun after the 18+ hour journey, so we hired the paid porter service. Their rates are fixed ( Rs 200 for max of 3 bags) and I was glad we didn’t have to haggle the minute we reached India.
Immigration was quick, but getting our luggage and then exiting through customs took time. Around 4:15 we found our driver, and then we were off to the temporary accommodations at Jayabheri. Normally, Varun is not too fond of car seat but today he wanted to sit in it. We were too tired to strap the car seat, so I just held him in my arms. We both dozed just after we exited the airport.
When we reached the temporary accommodations, we called the guy who had contacted us in US regarding housing keys pickup. Within minutes of the call, the caretaker of the apartment came down to greet us and help with the luggage. He showed us around the apartment ( rooms, how to use the gas range, geyser, phone, dishes, pot n pans,cutlery etc) before leaving. We asked him to send us breakfast in the morning, so we don’t have to cook. I was glad there was milk, eggs, juice, cookies and fruits in the apartment – so I wouldn’t have to rush out to get milk for Varun first thing in the morning.
We took their mobile numbers before they left and we simply went to bed.
Bright bright morning
Around 8:00 am, Varun woke up and I was forced to get up with him. We didn’t have any tea in the house and I was not a happy camper.Promptly at 8:30, the caretaker got our breakfast – freshly made aloo-parathas and raita! They were good – even Varun ate a small one with relish. With breakfast, we had elaichi tea – and that helped a little with the jet lag. After breakfast, I decided to step into the balcony to look around – but the light was so bright that I came back in and pulled the curtains back. And it was warm. It was only around 9 :00 am and I was already reaching for cold water. That’s when the music began. Loud sirens of Bollywood hits booming through the complex. I wanted to crawl back in the bed to sleep and really wished that they would stop that music.
Well, it stopped intermittently till I guess everyone came down to play Holi in the gardens.
In the meantime, To keep us awake, we decided to do grocery shopping.
We called for the car, had to wait for an hour for them to come, which is when the door bell rang.
The first one was from the cook- when did we want one to start etc. The second one was from the cleaning service, the third was from all the maids asking for Holi bakshish…you get the drift. Finally the driver came and off we went to get some groceries.
This has been our biggest activity today, We went in the morning before Holi and lunch to get basic supplies and then again in the evening to get everything else the cook would need.Hypercity, Heritage Fresh, Reliance Fresh are the most popular modern grocery shopping chains in India. We went to Heritage Fresh, just because it is near the house. Its small, with limited selection of items but clean, with less crowds and faster check-out; probably is pricier. The quality of produce seemed decent.
Reliance Fresh is bigger, with more variety ( 3 types of Sunflower oil, 5 types of Basmati rice etc). But the produce was lame, the check-out slow and disorganized. I didn’t like it as much as Heritage fresh. I will have to try Hypercity or else stick to local ‘thela-wala’ types for fresh sabji.
By the time we returned from morning grocery run, it was hot. Varun was intrigued by the shrieks of children as they played in the water and when I took him to the gardens to watch, he wanted to join in. So while Vipul put the groceries away and waited for lunch to arrive, Varun and I went down to play with colors and water. I had to struggle to bring him back up for shower and lunch. Lunch came in a tall 5 box stainless steel tiffin in a Milton casserole box and was simple – rotis, dal, sabji, dahi, rice and papad.
Post lunch we all slept till Mom and Dad came around 5:30.
Varun went for a walk with his grandparents in the evening.He simply loved being with them and was chanting ‘aaji- aaba’ all the time. Dinner was puran-poli and methi-parathas. Mom made them and got them along. It was the perfect end to the day. Normally, we would have got dinner from the same place as lunch but it was closed tonight (cook was out) and we had the option of getting dinner delivered from a nearby restaurant. But we didn’t really have to resort to that option.
Overall, it was a good start to our Indian adventure – Mom and Dad are here, Varun is happy though jet lagged, power back up seem to be working (we lost power 2-3 times but the backup was seamless), wireless router is up and running.
Tomorrow, we look for day care option for Varun.