We're Here, We're Here, We're FINALLY Here!!
We finally made it to India after the long flights and layovers, though this time was the first time that we were not without incident. The flight from Frankfurt to Chennai was relatively uneventful, though quite long and boring. We arrived on time, we managed to make it through customs and immigration, and met our sponsors in the baggage claim area. While they entertained the kidlets, Matt and I were on the hunt for our luggage and the dog. Everything made it here perfectly...... EXCEPT my bag. Nine bags and the dog arrived safe and sound, but somehow, somewhere, my bag did not end up on our luggage cart. Thank goodness I had the foresight to bring my deodorant, an extra tooth brush, toothpaste, and the infamous hair cream with me. Besides the clothes on my back, this is all I had to start out our new journey. What's more upsetting to me is that every new stitch of clothing I had purchased over the summer... every piece of makeup, every new accessory was gone, gone, gone like the wind.
After the luggage carousel was turned off, and we filled out the bevy of paperwork to track down the missing bag, we exited the baggage claim area and made our way to the awaiting van. We piled everything in the car, sat with the kids in our laps (yup, no room for the car seats in this van), and made the 25 minute trek to our new home. Our house is in a centrally located part of town (not that it means anything to me right now), and has 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths, an office, a playroom, a living room / dining room combo, and a kitchen. It also has maids quarters in the back and an attached garage. It's your standard concrete bungalow - complete with new paint and bug spray smell to match!
We brought all the bags in, took a quick tour, located the girls bedrooms, and put them to bed as soon as we could. The next few hours and days were a complete blur. We've been dealing with the 9.5 hour time change from the East Coast, getting used to sleeping under mosquito netting that encloses all of our beds, and the never ending sulfur smell in the water and in the air.
After being here for a whopping 5 days, I can now attest to the fact that the most important decision ever made upon arrival here is hiring a good driver. Many of you will ask why a driver is necessary. Let me tell you... Driving here is something that you have to see for yourself to actually believe. There are NO street signs anywhere, cars share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, auto rickshaws, and even animals. The rules of the road are that there are no rules. The steering wheel is on the right, and driving is on the left, just like in the UK. You don't honk here to let someone know to get out of the way, it's to let them know that you are mere centimeters away from hitting them - so best be careful when changing lanes... if there were any clearly marked. I could go on and on about driving, and will I'm sure in later posts.
We hired Matt's predecessor's driver on the recommendation of a wonderful guy in Matt's office who helped put everything together. He contacted the driver, let him know of our arrival, and worked with him to have our car washed and ready for us to get out on Monday morning. Drivers here are worth their weight in gold. They spend ten hours a day with you, so you better get someone you don't mind chatting with or being around all day long. They will not only take you everywhere you want to go, but they are also akin to personal assistants. They schlep your groceries in and out of the car, they help get the kids in / out of the car, they run your errands. It is a little disconcerting to have someone always at your beck and call... drivers literally just sit and wait for you until you're ready to go. But it's a decent paying job and I've heard how hard it is to find a reliable, trust worthy driver.
I'd like to say that it's been an easy transition, but being without luggage is a very unsettling feeling. I went the first two days in the same clothes. Yesterday I had a girlfriend who I had known from our first post in Oman, take me to a few clothing shops to find a couple pairs of pants and shirts to tide me over. Now I'm taking the time to re-order a majority of the clothes that I had already purchased to replenish my non-existent wardrobe. Just think about how much money you spend on your toiletries alone! Lufthansa has a record of my bag getting loaded onto the flight from Frankfurt to Chennai, so regardless that the agents here in India can't seem to locate it, we're decided to move forward and file a police report tomorrow as if it was stolen, not lost. I just hope that this will move the process along, and I can begin to submit my claims to Lufthansa and our renters insurance policy to get reimbursed for something...
I have so much to say, but tonight is my first real time on internet since we got here. Amazingly we were able to have broadband hooked up in our house this evening, which was a story in and of itself, but I'll have to save that for a future post. I will just say that if you ever wondered how many Indians it takes to hook up your internet... the answer is 7.
I have slowly started reading all the e-mails and comments from my last post. While I would usually send personal e-mails back to everyone, I just can't right now. My inbox is overflowing and with trying to re-order my stuff (which is taking a priority over everything), I'll honestly never get around to it in a timely manner. So to those of you who were so kind to write to me - thank you for your kind words! After the kids start school next week I'll have more of an opportunity to get online.
Signing off from my first post in India. Stay tuned daily, there's lots more to come!