Sunday, November 25, 2012

Flying to India

Zoe and I flew to India a couple of days ago. It was the first long haul flight I have taken with her in a year and it means she has reached 100.000 miles now (but let me get back to you on that after I have added things up). It was remarkably different to travel with a talking, walking, running toddler compared to the 18 month old stumbling, babbling toddler from last year. One major difference is that she is now able to sit and concentrate on watching cartoons or draw, or even play with her doll, by herself for about 20 minutes. Another difference is that she can walk most of the way herself on a layover, although having a one hour 15 minute layover in Munich was a bit stressful when she walked over to every single shop with any kind of cuddly bear or colorful bag hanging on display. "Se mor!"[look mommy] she said in that way only kids can, with wide-eyed amazement. In the end I had to simply let go of my fear of missing the plane (and unfortunately I have a bit of a history on that one...) and just be calm. What a nice bag, Zoe. Yes, that's pretty too. Come on, let's go, we are going to India to see your uncle and aunt. "Oh yeah", she would say, as she just realized that right now and follow me.

On the long haul Lufthansa Airbus 340-600 we got seats not too far away from the galley and the stairs down to the restrooms (yeah, I had never been on an airplane with restrooms downstairs, it had ups and downs, mostly downs when you have a not so stable stair walking toddler who loves going to the bathroom). This meant that after Zoe had snoozed for a couple of hours, letting me have my meal and watch TV comedies, she could get up and ask for more cashews from the flight attendant herself. Did I mention that this is a major advantage of having a bi/trilingual kid? She has no problem understanding English when we travel despite her living in Sweden and speaking Danish with me. "More cashews please", she said and after initial confusion and the flight attendant trying to give her apple juice, he got it. Throughout the rest of the flight she continued to ask for more and managed to eat 5 packs. And a small pack of ketchup instead of any of the delicious food that was on her special kids meal tray. As she exited the plane she waved at all the flight attendants: "bye bye airplane", to the smiles of most of them.

Exiting in Mumbai was a bit of a shock to me. Of course I knew that it would look different from what I'm used to in my little Western World bubble, but the smell, the warmth and people running around everywhere was still overwhelming. Zoe was still walking all the way through immigration but as we were waiting for our bag and car seat she got hyper, running around me in circles. I got slightly worried about her running too far away and getting lost in the crowd so I suggested she go in the baby carrier. Luckily she got excited: "Zoe little baby in carrier", she repeated and I managed to drag my two suitcases (a carry on roller bag and a slightly bigger checked in bag, along with the car seat) out towards our waiting hotel transport. Luggage trolleys were nowhere in sight so it took me a bit of effort and I was surprised that nobody offered to help me out. With a toddler on my back and two suitcases and a car seat. In the US I would have had three guys and one fellow mom asking me if they could help. We kept up the spirit and after a long walk faced the airport exit crowd. What a sight. Hundreds of people with signs, people with luggage standing waiting and people yelling everywhere. The warmth was mild but humid. After not seeing my sign anywhere a guy in uniform finally felt sorry for me and asked what company I was looking for. He swiftly found the driver of my ride and in three minutes we were on our way. Mumbai here we come. 

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