Saying goodbye to my family was probably the hardest part of the trip. Thankfully the new international terminal in Atlanta offers great views of the airplanes for non-passengers. Our plane was the first one next to the windows so Wyatt was able to watch our plane taxi out. I think he really got a kick out of that.
When we landed in Frankfurt and I connected to wi-fi, this is what my text inbox popped up. Justin and his friend Jared took some crazy selfies and sent them to me and then he figured out how to say, “I love you” in German. So sweet!
Frankfurt to India was the hardest flight for me. My sister Suzi was having a planned c-section to have Paxton at 7:30 EST and it was postponed to later in the day.
I bought wi-fi on the plane with hopes that SOMEONE would text me pictures of him when he was born. I couldn’t get Facebook to work and was nervously stalking Instagram and iMessage for any sign of his arrival. I was so excited to see the most wonderful iMessage in the world when Sami sent me cell phone snaps of him in the recovery room. I found out later I got to see him even before the others did! I was bawling like a baby and I might have scared my fellow passengers a little. I didn’t care—I WAS A PROUD AUNT OF NEPHEW #4!!!!! I immediately got up and started showing off pictures of my brand-spanking new nephew as proud as if he were my own child. I thanked God many times a day for the wonders of modern technology and that I could be as present as possible with my family three continents away. Sami actually got a picture of me FaceTiming Suzi a few hours later.
After I calmed down from the excitement of Pax’s arrival, I promptly took some sleeping pills and passed out for the remainder of the flight.
We arrived in India and were welcomed with flower garlands and sights and sounds that were so completely different than I had ever experienced. It was 12:30 a.m. when we got there so I am sure the effect would have been heightened if we had arrived during the day.
We exchanged our US dollars for Indian rupees. I felt like a baller with all of that cash! $400 converts to around 22,000 rupees. I carefully stashed it away in various compartments to be on the safe side. I didn’t want to lose my purse and be without any money for the whole trip. It turns out that I never felt unsafe the entire trip, but better safe than sorry I say.
After a few short hours in our hotel, we started out the day bright and early at 9:30. We visited an Islamic mosque, and got to take in the sights and sounds of India, crazy traffic and all!
We also visited the cremation site of Mahatma Ghandi,
Traveled past the India Gate (which was designed in the same style of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris),
And visited Qutab minar, which is the largest brick monument in the world. The stonework was outstanding and the details we were able to observe were mind-blowing when you realize all of this was done without modern tools and technologies.
It was blazing hot and this picture was about 5 seconds before I broke down and put my hair up in Spin Pins.
That evening, we made our way out the Banni Khera Farm. This is a family farm with an agritourism operation. They have a gorgeous farm house on ten acres and have over 350 acres of farmland in cultivation. Their hospitality was tremendous and we were welcomed in the greatest way. Local women sang, played drums, and danced with us. The colors are always so interesting and I think this was one of my favorite parts of India.
We were again welcomed with garlands of marigolds and our foreheads were dotted with vermilion and rice as a welcome gesture. This is placed on the location of the third eye, which in Hindu tradition is the one that focuses inward toward God. The dot is to remind people to keep God in the front of the believer’s thoughts.
We were served a traditional Indian meal and some of us even sat on the floor on plush carpets with low tables.
I got the answer right for the trivia question of the evening and was presented this hand carved statue of Shiva, a Hindu god. It was really neat to see the artisan’s fingerprints actually dried into the clay at the base of the statue.