Hello again! After many weeks of not writing, we’re finally back on the blog. Piglet followed me (G) on a little visit back to NYC to welcome some new additions to the family in the form of twin nephews! After some 19 hours of travel, I returned to snow on the ground just days after the big blizzard in New York, which was another 30˚C to 30˚F sort of transition, adjusting to a new normal. By the time I left after a few short weeks, spring was starting to spring, and the high temperature climbed all the way up to 85°F (30°C), which shows just how short springs and falls are in New York. Meanwhile, summer in Pune was seeing temperatures at 105°F (40°C). Eesh! It is definitely hot here right now, which makes going out in the middle of the day something people avoid as much as possible. But enough talk about the weather. Let’s talk about something more interesting, like really long flights. (Cue mild sarcasm.)
Pro-tip #1: In order to enter Pune Airport, you must show a flight ticket for that date and photo ID. I thought this might be because it is controlled by the Air Force and therefore security would be much higher than at other airports in general. So this means that if anyone sees you off at the airport, you need to say your goodbyes before actually entering the terminal. Do you know whether this is a rule to enter all airports in India?
On the way to New York, I had way too little time in between flights. As my first flight was delayed with an already short layover in New Delhi, just before landing, I rushed to the front of the relatively empty cabin (thanks to some very sympathetic flight attendants) and immediately upon deplaning was met by a commercial airport employee who personally led me and one other woman to our connecting flight. His uniform and badge allowed him to be seen by the security officers and cut all the queues (and there were a lot) to rush to our gate. We ran through the maze that is Indira Gandhi International Airport, to immigration, up and down never-ending escalators to the transfer area, through two more back-to-back security checks with very inquisitive armed officers who were not too pleased that the stamps on my boarding pass were smudged and becoming illegible from being changed through too many hands. (Pro-tip #2: Stamps are everything in India. They prove that you’re legit and not lying, as evidenced by someone else’s mark backing up your story.) I eventually made it just in time, very sweaty and out of breath, but glad that Air India/the airport took care to escort people like this. Before I could thank the commercial crew guy, he disappeared into the crowd! On the way back, I had the opposite issue and found myself with too much time with a long layover, trying to occupy my time with no mobile phone number (I had left the phone with TA) and therefore no internet (you need a phone number to access public WiFi networks), no rupees, and just a croissant from the previous flight that I decided to hoard, along with a packet of strawberry jam, in case hunger struck (it did). Six hours just strolling through Delhi airport, literally as slowly as possible, checking out the duty-free shops, testing out the airport’s posted walking times to get to your gate, taking care of some long overdue writing, and falling asleep while reading my book. Another pro-tip: when transiting through New Delhi, always expect to have to go through immigration and security during your transfer. I think this is the same if you are flying through London-Heathrow and New York-JFK.
Flights, weather, and fodder for small talk aside, let’s talk about New York and get to the good stuff: food, babies, pictures! I arrived just a few days before my sister’s due date, and in her last days of pregnancy, we did mostly what we do best: eat and talk. I had compiled a list of the things (read: foods) I was starting to miss about New York, so my family quickly helped me get started on said list: sushi, NY pizza, kalbi, dim sum, Halal Guys, pho, xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Korean fried chicken, just to name a few.
Pretty soon the babies were here and all of us learned to take care of newborns together. We definitely had our hands full with the two brand new humans! Here’s them looking their tiny adorable selves with Piglet, who snuck in for a picture for himself.
Here’s them a little bit older, figuring out that they are indeed humans who communicate to get what they want, rather than 24/7 “womb service”! And of course, us trying to decode their messages. Not shown here are their paternal grandparents who are superstar full-time caretaker-helpers. From feeding the whole family, to transportation, to running the house, and helping out at all hours of the day and especially the night, they are awesome! It really takes a village.
While the majority of my time (and the purpose of my stay) was with these little nuggets and their parents, I did get to see some old faces, seen below. (But too many that I simply forgot to take pictures with/of!)
A college friend also got married at our alma mater, which I was so honored to attend. What a beautiful night filled with fancy foods and such good company, plus oodles of nostalgia.
What a whirlwind of memories, emotions, people! If home is where the heart is, then I’m definitely putting down new homes in many places, which I guess makes it possible to be homesick wherever you are. In German, there is a word called “Fernweh”, which means farsickness, as opposed to homesickness, similar to Wanderlust, or a desire to go far away and travel. But once you feel that you’ve fallen in love with places that happen to be far away from your reference point (expectedly or not), and by places I really mean people, I think the line between homesickness and farsickness get too blurred to be distinct from each other. Not too much time to sit and ponder now, though. I’m back in Pune at the moment, but not for much longer. Starting next week, we’ll be starting a crazy summer itinerary: first back in Germany, then in Israel with a short stay in Turkey in between, with perhaps some more later on. Stay tuned!