Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Departing Purgatory

We are finally on the plane leaving Delhi - two babies asleep, one Wild Animal watching a movie - a rare moment of peace and quiet!  The airport check in was pretty hideous and I caught a glimpse of what it's going to be like to deal with three melting down children while you are trying to do something else (ie checking in 9 huge bags, lugging another 9 carry on bags, discussing passport and bassinet issues with non-helpful check in ladies, tipping porters, filling out departure forms, etc.).  We were able to get one bassinet and, with some finagling by the pushy mama (me!), we were able to get the rest of our group all in a row of four just behind the bassinet seat.  So master Ronan (as he is known in India) is snuggled up in the bassinet and little Gemma is wrapped up tight in her own seat between Jessica and Neve (the plane is freezing - probably 30 degrees colder than these babies have ever experienced and they currently look less like babies and more like piles of blankets).  This moment is not likely to last, so I must blog swiftly from here on out!

Over the past few days we have been trying to make the most of our final time in Delhi.  Less mall, more other stuff.  The highlight was an amazing rickshaw tour through Chandni Chowhk - the very, very busy open markets of Old Delhi.  There are miles and miles and rows and rows of store fronts and hundreds of thousands of people buying, selling, hauling, motoring and hanging out.  First a mile of colorful wedding saris, then a mile of spices piled high in barrels (that you can smell coming), all around people selling all sorts of food from carts that they have pulled in there by hand and weird home made street kitchens (showcasing that the New York "street food scene" has gotten way to cleaned up to really be considered from the street), row after row of jewelry, stationary, beading, fabrics and lots of other things I've forgotten or did not get to see.  The area (at least as far as I can tell without a map) is encircled by a large road, and the center is made up of smaller roads and then smaller paths and then tiny alley ways (think the aorta, to arteries to capillaries, to whatever is smaller) pulsing around in a bustling, confusing maze of utter and complete commerce. 

Our driver got us as close to the nucleus as he could and then negotiated with a rickshaw driver to take us the rest of the way in.  We were nervous but we did as we were told and hopped aboard and off we went.  I have to admit that at points I was thinking that our kidneys were at risk, but our strong, rugged and weathered little rickshaw driver peddled us all over that huge market, through bumper to bumper traffic and down alleys only just wide enough for us to pass - all quite adeptly and quite safely and without any mandatory organ donations.  Most of the time you could reach out and touch the vehicle or the 10 +  persons in the vehicle next to you.  Decked out in cameras and well, being white in all respects, we were a spectacle in our very uncrowded rickshaw and we thought the whole thing was quite a spectacle!  

It was evening but still close to 100 degrees and dusty with a side of pollution that burned our eyes by the end.  And yes, I would say that this was one of the best tourist things I have EVER done!  Hanging off the back of that rickshaw watching the mopeds and buses speed by on either side, close enough to smell the men pushing wooden wagons piled high with packages,  admiring the beautiful sari dressed women waiting in line to get into the temples as the sounds of the call to prayer blared above the constant honking, giving a sly unbelieving smile to the macho men on mopeds who would zoom up behind us honking as if we could go faster and making them actually laugh at the absurdity - we soaked in the energy that is Delhi and were giddy from it.  It was scary and intimidating and seemingly unruly but with many rules, just rules that we did not understand, and it was exhilarating and fun and made me like Delhi again!

After having spent almost 9 weeks total in Delhi over the past couple years, we are still very far from understanding the rules and probably always will be.  In a city of over 19 million people and little to no governmental/police controls (lots of corruption but little law and order), society has had to make up its own rules and they are hard to decipher as a foreigner.  I think this is probably one of the most difficult parts of negotiating India.

As we leave and Ronan lays sleeping so close to me, I sit here trying to muster up some emotional closure for the end of this chapter of our journey.  Came back to Delhi, witnessed the birth of beautiful twins, spent a month and -- blah.  Nothing is coming up easily.  There were more hard times this go around, more whisperings that caused us concern, less quiet baby time than we wanted and needed.   I think I need time to digest this trip before I can really write its ending.

We met many surrogacy parents this go around.  The blog world seems to have gotten bigger and the communication between parents greater and we stepped out from behind the screens to meet each other for lunches and dinners.   We all share this crazy experience - we come from different places and different backgrounds but we all wanted families badly enough to knowingly give ourselves to a doctor in far off India to make that family a reality.  Many have regrets and misgivings but not about their babies.  There is a lot of new parent anxiety and New Delhi anxiety in this purgatory of sorts - babies in hotel rooms, Indian night nurses with different ways of doing things, a hot tough city, various beaucratic mazes to be sorted through (it takes two months to get the citizenship and passports in countries like England and Norway - and we thought we had it bad!) and there are health issues that can keep your babies in foreign hospitals and leave you feeling helpless.  Everyone is thrilled and everyone has a story and a background and pain to share, both current and past.  As we are airborne, headed for decent drinking water and all things familiar, I think of my new friends in purgatory and wish them quick departures and long wonderful lives on the other side with their Delhi babies.

Ok, funny aside.  I am just back after a 5 hour hiatus!  We are now on the way to Melbourne from Singapore and we got the double bassinet in front, the menu for dinner looks awesome (beef and wine!) - all great, but we have been playing an endless game of whack a mole with the babies and Neve.  Each time we think we have those silly moles licked, one of them pops back up with more demands - bottles, diapers, more blankets, etc.  Such is the rest of our lives!!

It is time to get some sleep before our 5am arrival in Melbourne where we will introduce Ronan and Gemma to their Australian grandparents.  It is Grandma Sue's birthday today and I have a feeling that we will be bringing the best presents to the party this year!!

Love to all and farewell India -

G H & N R G

Some pictures of Old Delhi below -

On the day we left, everyone who works at our apartment complex (cleaners, cook, security guards, managers) all stopped in to say goodbye to Neve.  I have a full roll of film on just this topic!

Below with the cleaners.

Hamish and the security guard recreating their morning runs.

Taking Neve on a Tuk Tuk tour - she was not impressed.


  1. ...and so continues your journey.

    Best wishes as you make your way around the EARTH! Let's find a time to get together this summer...we have a great fenced yard...perfect for wild animals!

  2. What a fantastic post! I really enjoyed your pics of Old Delhi as it brought it back for me!

  3. Haven't even started the journey, yet seeing you finish it makes me feel emotional. Don't know why.

    Safe travels.

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