I guess now is as good a time as any to jump in and talk about our trip we took back in June. Our gift last Christmas from my parents was an all-expense paid trip to come visit them at their home in India. It was a very gracious gift that we greedily accepted, knowing full well that this trip would never have happened without their generosity.
A lot of organizing and preparation ensued over the next few months as we all tried to coordinate schedules to allow my family of three, plus my sister and her husband, to travel over on a set of dates that also agreed with my father’s busy work schedule. Then the process of obtaining passports and visas began. Not an easy task for a country that requires more information about you than even your parents know. But it all came together, and on Wednesday, June 6th, we left for our 16-day trip through India.
Our flight from Nashville to Detroit was scheduled for early afternoon, but since we live so far away, we had to leave home before 11AM. My dad called us on the way to check in and make sure we were on schedule. This was a trip that allowed for absolutely no delayed flights, or God forbid, one missed altogether. One small mistake would have set off a chain reaction of disaster. No need to worry, though. When I was 15, I flew from Singapore to Tokyo to Los Angeles to Memphis all by myself. I got this, dad.
Our first flight left on time and was a short, uneventful one – only about two hours. We easily passed the time on this leg by looking at the puffy clouds out the window and playing some serious games of Mad Libs.
When our plane landed in Detroit, my sister and brother-in-law were already there. My dad had coordinated our flights so that we could meet in Detroit, and then fly the rest of the way together. On our way to meet my sister at the gate, we passed through a really trippy musical hallway with people movers and color-changing walls. If I hadn’t been so excited to see Laura, I’d have gone back through it 3 or 4 more times before heading to the gate.
Our layover in Detroit was pretty short, or maybe it just seemed that way since we had so much catching up to do, not having seen each other for six months and all. However, it was long enough for me to hit an airport Starbucks, spend double what I should have on a coffee, and then get my first stomachache of the trip. Not a good sign when you are only on your way to India and you’re already getting sick.
Our next flight would take us to Amsterdam. This was our second-longest flight of the day clocking in around 7 to 8 hours. This was the flight we needed to sleep on, but of course, didn’t since we were all much too excited about our own personal TVs and the huge selection of in-flight movies. Not too bad for economy seats!
We got to watch the sunset for hours on this flight. I’m not sure if it had to do with the plane traveling through different time zones, or if sunsets just last longer at 35,000 feet, but I thought it would never get dark outside. Not that I intended on sleeping if it did. I passed the time by watching Big Miracle, A Dolphin Tale, and We Bought A Zoo. All excellent movies. And the food wasn’t half bad either. They really make sure you are well-fed on these lengthy flights.
Our plane landed in Amsterdam on time. We didn’t have a very long layover, so we went straight to the gate where I proceeded to get the most invasive pat down of my life from a small, perky blonde with drawn-on eyebrows. At that point, I didn’t even mind. I’d been awake for over 24 hours and would have stripped down to my birthday suit just to get through to my seat on the next airplane.
The flight to India was crowded and noisy, and within an hour of leaving Amsterdam, completely trashed. We no longer had personal TVs, just the TV at the front of the plane to look at. It didn’t matter though, Lex fell asleep in my lap soon after the flight took off and I leaned over her back and tried to sleep. After three hours of sleep, they came around with our meals. I have no idea what we were given to eat, but I ate it anyway out of pure starvation. It was my first introduction to Indian food, albeit not a fair one since it was plane-quality, but I was not impressed.
The coolest part about this flight was flying over Iraq. This is the closest I’ll likely ever get to seeing this particular country, so it felt a little surreal. The desert was endless, with an occasional mountain thrown into the mix. We also crossed over Iran and Pakistan before making it to India.
This was our longest flight, about 8 or 9 hours. I managed to catch most of My Week With Marilyn, but Lexie wasn’t very impressed with the movie, and we were both getting a little stir crazy by the end of the flight. (We, unfortunately, couldn’t get up and walk to stretch our legs because there was too much trash all over the floor and loads of people just standing next to their seats.)
After what seemed like 100 hours, but was really only like 24 (it’s easy to lose track of time on a seemingly endless stream of airplanes), we landed in Mumbai VERY early Friday morning. My parents met us outside after we made it through customs and collected our bags which, thankfully, all arrived intact.
At 1AM I got to experience my first ride on the streets of India which, had I not been incoherent from sleep deprivation, would have scared the Indian dinner out of me. After arriving at my parents’ apartment, we got settled in and fell into a mind-numbing coma around 3AM. With the time change, we’d just made it through one LONG 36-hour day. More on our first day in Mumbai tomorrow!