Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Out on the Town" or "Everbody Loves Manu"

Today began pretty well. We had Manu's bottle prepared, his diaper changed and his outfit on him before he woke; This boy sleeps hard! He's still sleeping with us, as even though we have a crib in the room at this hotel, it's not really deep enough to be safe, and the first time we put Manu in it, he stood up, threw his leg over the side and would have fallen to the ground if I wasn't watching him. Safety standards in India seem well behind those of the west. After then getting ourselves cleaned up we headed downstairs to have breakfast. This was a complimentary Indian buffet. No western omlettes or biscuits and gravy here, but rather spicy indian curries and breads, exotic fruits and juices, and even smoked salmon with capers; I love this country! After taking turns watching Manu while the other went to the buffet, we sat down to eat. An unusually complacent Manu sat quietly taking in the experience. We tried him on a little home-made bananna yogurt. He liked it and it didn't seem to upset his stomach. After a few moments another couple sat down beside us, and we imeediately hit it off; Manu has that effect on people. They were Eleo and Maria from Venezuela. They were completing the second half of an around-the-world trip to 15 countries. After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, Eleo asked if we would like to join them and split a private car to visit the Akshardham Temple. Since we had wanted to go anyway, and a group is always more fun, we took them up on their offer, and 10 minutes later we were on the road.

The traffic here still continues to amaze me. I'm not sure how anyone survives a trip across town. It took us about 25 minutes to reach the temple. We parked, checked our bags and electronics (almost nothing is allowed on premisis) and approached the again-segregated security queue. But before we could enter we were informed that all admission to the Temple had been halted due to the arrival of a foreign President. We were told that things should resume in about an hour. No one wanted to waste that time, so we headed for Humayun's Tomb. Unfortunately it didn't open to the public until 2pm, so still nothing. All of this worked out for the best, as we were near the Birla House where Muhatma Gandhi lived out his last days and it is also the site of his assassination. This was a very informative and moving tribute to the man who changed India. Afterwords, Eleo and Maria wanted to visit the Oberoi Hotel, so we stopped in for refreshments in the lounge. Did I say WE were staying at a luxury hotel? This place makes the Intercontinental look like a Super 8 Motel. This must be how the other half lives. It was here at the Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi, on January 25th, 2009 that Jeff made his first solo attempt at changing a dirty diaper. We'll almost solo, as the bathroom atendant did help me place him on the black marble changing table...can you believe it! All in all it was a sucess, with Manu only squirming a little bit. I think he's getting more used to us now. Back to the table: Turns out that our new friends are wine and food lovers too, so we visited the kitchen and the wine cellar. The Sunday buffet being served was something out of a gourmet's fantasy. But we didn't have time for that, and soon we were headed back to Akshardham Temple.

Unfortunately, anyone interested in pictures of this place will have to visit their website, as we had to once again surrender our bags and cameras, and that means all of our baby supplies as well. I did grab the tube of orajel and a diaper just in case (see, we're learning) and went in. This place is enormous! It was built as a tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a respected Hindu teacher. The temple was built in a mere 5 years and opened in 2005. The intricate marble carvings are a sight to behold. Unfortunately, the newness of the Temple, along with the touristy-ness of the place makes it seem more like a Hindu Disneyworld rather than a holy site. But it is spectacular to behold nonetheless. Throughout this visit we discovered what a spectacle to behold we really were. Two white American's with an Indian baby is bound to draw attention. Many people stopped to ask us about Manu, and almost universally the comments were positive regarding our adoption. Also, both Leslie and I had families of Indians come up to us just to say hello, or to shake our hand, especially the younger kids. As we were ready to leave and Eleo and I were returning from the baggage claim, I noticed that Leslie and Manu were surrounded by at least a dozen curious Indian women, all playing and making faces at Manu. Everyone said he was a most beautiful child. I have never felt as much like a minority as I did today, the only white male surrounded closely by tens of thousands of Indians. This type of experience forces you to reevaluate your perspective on the world. BTW, did you know that there are more Indian children than the entire population of the United States? By the time we finished, we had walked probably 3 miles throughout the complex. At this point Manu was heading back to the dark side, so we all hurried back to the Hotel. Maria had said that one of the things she wanted to see in India was an Elephant. We'll, on their last day in India, and on our way back, we saw a work elephant sharing the road with all of the vehicles. It was a pretty amazing site. I had been hit in the face with a roaming cow's tail back in Bangalore, but I never thought I would be passing an elephant on the highway! After returning, feeding and changing Manu, we went back to the restaurant from this morning for dinner, and Eleo and Maria were also there. They must have noticed Manu's need or constant attention and, after they had finished their meal they offered to hold Manu so we could finish ours. They are our first babysitters! Too bad they live in Venezuela. Also, the all-male wait staff at the restaurant got a big kick out of Manu, and they gathered around me as I was walking him about and admired him. They too passed him around for a bit, and he loved every minute of it!

Well now we're back in the room. Manu has had another bottle and has proceeded to spit up much of it. No article of clothing was exempt from the abuse, including Leslie's night gown that we just got back from the cleaners about 2 hours earlier. The little guy seems to not be bothered by it, and insists on our attention every moment. As I write this, Leslie has just got him into bed after about 45 minutes of rocking him to sleep. Luckily we don't have any hard plans for tomorrow, and plan to sleep in a bit, or whenever Manu decides to get up; 5:30 this morning!

Mom, regarding sizes, he's a little guy, 15.5lbs but he's long. 3 month just barely fits, 6 months is about right so 9-12 would probably be the best sizes to buy right now. He looks really good in bright colors.


  1. Jeff and Leslie,
    Enjoying all the pictures, news about Manu, hearing about new parenting skills (?!), sightseeing, et al. Have fun and ENJOY every day yourselves! Can't wait to see Manu and hear all the stories in person! -Nancy

  2. So glad you both are getting a chance to enjoy the food & culture. I'm really enjoying the trip vicariously through your stories and pics. Mom & Dad are amazed at the technology that allows us to correspond when we are oceans apart. We are in MS visiting family, but we log on each day to hear about your adventures. Love ya, Amee

  3. Leslie hon you look so happy and proud. Hurry home so you can show the little fellow off.

    Love ya, Carol, Mom, Nana

  4. I am so happy for the two of you! It has been so neat looking at your "adventure" through the pictures and blogging. I hope all continues to go well...the flight especially...and am looking forward to seeing the new edition in person!!!