Friday, June 13, 2014

World travelers...

We began our journey on Thursday afternoon at about noon.  My sister parked
her loaded suburban near the elevator and we piled our large suitcases on a
luggage cart. Each person had their personal bag on their shoulder and
their carry-on rolling behind them.  We were quite a sight! One of my kids
said, "Mom, no one else has this much luggage." "Well, none of them have a
family of six moving to India for a year," was my reply.

Check-in was a long, multi-step process, but finally, it was time to go. We
said our goodbyes to my sister and we were off! (She later told me she
barely held it together and went out to the car and had a good cry.) We got
settled on the plane and the kids had their first flight ever...10 hours to
Amsterdam. After a 5 hour layover, we boarded a plane for Delhi. There were
only a few non-Indians like us. And walking through the first class
section, I caught a few whiffs of horrible body odor, but thankfully, we
were all sitting on one side together, and the air was clear. 8 hours
later, we set foot in India. When we got off the plane, my kids needed to
use the restroom and all of a sudden the panic came to all of us...Ummm, do
they have American toilets??  And even more worrisome...Do they have toilet
paper??  (I had packed a roll in one of our carry-ons.)

There was a bathroom attendant that showed us four American toilets and one
Indian toilet. And they all had toilet paper (the toilet paper can not be
flushed--it has to be put in a garbage can in the stall.) They also have
little sprayers right next to the the ones we have at the
kitchen sink.  They must use these as a bidet feature as all the toilet
seats were wet with water spray.  Unfortunately, I had to use the restroom
quite a few times during our 5 1/2 hours there, and every time, the
attendant would come over and wave her hand in front of the sensor for me
(so the water would keep running) while I washed my hands and then hand me
my paper towels.

We headed downstairs to go through customs and then went to find our

The customs area was below these beautiful hands.  They were huge. I wish we knew what they meant.

We had to collect all our baggage and
then go check in with our next airline and give them all the baggage. At
this point, we have been traveling for 24 hours.  It is 1:30 a.m. June
7th in India, and 1 p.m. June 6th in California.  We were quite weary and
when we went to check in with the next airline, we saw a line of people
with baggage carts like us and absolutely no ticket agents.  Through word
of mouth, we heard that they would open at 3 a.m. since our flight was not
until 6:50 a.m.  We left Lon and Camry with the luggage and headed out to
find some food. Luckily, I had gotten some rupees from our bank in UT,
so I was able to go and buy some boxed juice and chips for all of us.

Once the counter opened, we checked in our baggage and headed through
security one more time. I assumed this would just be routine because
we had been through so many different security checks already. But
this time, they were concerned about what was in Cohen's
backpack...his rubber snake, Rattle. The guard looked at me and said,
"You have snake?" It took a couple seconds for what he had asked me to
register. And then I remembered that Yes, we did have the snake with
us. I answered, "Yes, TOY.  NOT REAL." Having no idea if he would
actually understand me. He had me open the pack and pull out the
snake. He then lifted it up, holding it high above the table letting
it coil heavily down and called out to every guard within the sound of
his voice, saying something in Tamil, and laughing. They were all in
complete disbelief. We stood there awkwardly for a few minutes as this
went on, then he turned to me and said, "Not allowed". "What?" I said.
"It is just a toy. We have had it with us in many airports." "Not
allowed in India." At this point, I was getting upset because I had
assumed that Cohen would be able to carry it.  It was the only toy he
had absolutely requested to bring. It was his favorite animal. Through
some amount of gesturing and terse English words, the guard was able
to communicate that we had to check that bag in...that it just could
not be carried on. I heard Lon say, "Well, I am not paying extra."

 I stuffed the snake into the backpack, zipped it up, and handed it to
Lon. "Just go tell them that the guards said we could check this in
for free." I have no idea what, if any, trouble there was back at the
counter, but we waited for Lon to go back to the check-in counter and
then come through security again. He said they took it and we all
walked away, grateful to be through our final stressful security

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