Well we're here safe in Delhi, though getting here was a little challenging, and I think we learned some lessons along the way!
We were awakened at 4:00am by the front desk informing us that our ride to the airport would be ready to go by 4:30. Any plans we had for not waking Manu were now history. All we had to do was get dressed and go, but we still managed to take the whole half-hour, and the manager at the front desk was still half asleep, so checkout took a few extra minutes, but we were soon on our way. The air quality was noticeably better than the morning we arrived, but traffic was heavier and a couple of times I though our driver might fall asleep at the wheel. Although we were nearly run off the road a couple of times, we managed to make it to the terminal unscathed. We paid our airport tax and headed to check-in and security. Indian airports segregate men and women during security, with the women entering a concealed area for searching. Leslie said nothing different happened to her and Manu in there than happened to me (wanding and patting down), but I think Indian culture is more sensitive to women's privacy and take extra precautions to prevent an invasion of such. A quick cup of coffee and it was time to board.
Up until this time Manu had either been asleep or mesmerized by all of the commotion. It wasn't until we loaded on the bus to take us to our plane that he became fussy. After we boarded and found our seats, Manu started to cry. We had planned on feeding him during the take-off, but we decided to go ahead and calm him down, so I made a bottle. This is where the comedy of errors begins. First, it turns out Daddy packed the wrong nipple in the carry on. This one was a slow-flow, and we have a hungry baby with a big appetite. As he was turning red trying to get the formula out, his eyes began to tear up and he started screaming. After it was apparent this wasn't working we got desperate. In an attempt to get things going Leslie, lacking any sharp instruments, tried to bite off a little hole in the nipple to increase the flow. Did it ever. Now formula was gushing out all over his face and he WASN'T happy. An Indian Lady in the next row was all but shaking her head in disbelief of this child-rearing circus. After a few more minutes he cried himself to sleep, surely to the delight of all around. Instead of bothering him, the roar of the engines during take-off seemed to sooth him a bit, but we knew that a hungry baby wouldn't stay asleep the whole trip. Then we remembered that we had packed a partial box of cereal in the bag in the overhead compartment. Luckily the airline had a cup and plastic spoon to give us, so we mixed up a bowl and as soon as he awoke he was fed and happy, for a moment. He remained restless throughout the duration, insisting on being entertained the whole time. As the plane landed he became happy baby again and everyone around seemed to enjoy him. As we departed the plane for the bus to take us to the terminal, he fell asleep hard...of course. All of this does not bode well for us next week. We collected our bags, found our driver and headed for the hotel.
The traffic in Delhi is simply breathtaking. Cars, buses, motorcycles and bicycles all share the same congested roads. And the people. All of the people! Delhi is a city of 22 million with a relatively poor infrastructure by western standards, so everywhere along the route was severely congested. Our driver told us that, because this was a Saturday, the traffic was pretty light. Sheesh! As we waited at the stop lights, young children hawking cheap souvenirs would knock on the window and call to us, persistent until the light changed and we drove away, with them still in the middle of the traffic. Soon we reached the the hotel, and this is where the disparity between wealth and poverty in India could not be more apparent. Although we were traveling in a hotel car, we were stopped and inspected before being allowed to enter the parking area. The Mumbai attacks have heightened security throughout the city, especially at luxury hotels. Leslie and I decided when planning this trip to spend a little more on the hotel in Delhi to ensure a clean and safe environment for us and Manu. What we found was truly amazing. Upon entering the lobby we were impressed by the up-scale nature of the place. And because we are "long stay" guests, our room was upgraded and extra amenities included. Cool! A concierge showed us to our room; as opulent a room as you could expect to find in a US 5-star hotel. Fine furniture, linens, marble bathroom and a beautiful view of the Lotus Temple; quite a departure from Manu's previous diggs. Initially a welcome relief from the harsh realities of Bangalore and Delhi, I can't help contemplating the ridiculousness of such a place, only minutes from the abject poverty that plagues most of the country. Nonetheless, we got settled in, fed Manu and headed down to the lobby to check the place out. As we walked down a hall that contained several shoppes of fine rugs, silk and artifacts, we were implored by the proprietors of each shop to enter and take a look. Interesting the persuasive techniques similarly used by street vendors being practiced in a 5-star hotel. We were "convinced" to take a look in a couple of them, Leslie buying a Kashmir Pashmina in one, and we picked up a couple of elephants for Manu in another, haggling the price at each. But as soon as the other shop-keepers saw that we bought from one, they just upped the intensity of their attempts to get us into their's. We promised profusely to visit them all at a later time. Afterwords we headed to a tea lounge for tea and coffee, then back to the room to order dinner, bath Manu and wind down.
Did we mention that Manu had been fussy lately? Well as it turns out, he now has 4 little teeth just breaking the gum line. He'd been slobbering a lot and chewing on anything he can get his little hands on. Luckily we packed some baby Orajel, which seemed to help instantly, putting a smile back on his face. Ruth had also given us a pack of teething tablets for him, so we gave him a couple of those too, and he finished off the evening just fine, finally asleep! Poor little fellow has had a rough couple of days. I'd be fussy too!
We have a couple of days before we have to head to the Embassy, so tonight we're deciding on what to do. Before we close we want to thank everyone for the nice comments. It really helps to have your support, and it makes us too feel like you are here with us.