Dispatches from India – the adventures of traveling to India for the first time with a toddler

plane travel with toddlersHey, I am back and I am in India. The babe and I reached safely. And happily. I had been nervous about traveling alone a two year old for a journey spanning 26hrs, but hey, I think we did well. The babe had been so excited about the trip, that he had forgone his nap and even the hour long journey to the airport did not lull him to sleep. We checked in, and luckily we had window seats for the first leg of the journey, but we had middle and aisle seats in the middle row for the next. My hand luggage – a diaper bag, doubling as a purse, a travel potty, as the babe is now potty trained and a kids strolley bag. I took the kids strolley over the more practical adult one as the babe had been waiting for months to travel with it. In these I had sneaked in some stuff for me and loads of stuff for the babe. I had packed books (two, one old and one new), toys, coloring books with magic markers – a bon voyage gift from the babe’s best friend, a soft goose toy the babe loves, pack of crayons, paper three changes of clothes for the babe, one change of clothes for myself, all the travel documents, my wallet, a sippy, snack bars for the babe, pull-ups, wipes, underpants in case the babe revolted against pull ups which he does not wear normally, two Ziplocs packed with an assortment of baby and mom cosmetics and necessities and Tylenol and Mylicon, pops for the babe to suck on if his ears off – what a long list! I know you think I over prepared with the changes of clothes, but hey, what happens if there is a spill. This time of the year is notorious for flight diversions in Delhi because of the fog, and flights get routed to Mumbai often for layovers. Also, I was paranoid I would miss my connection. Anyway, I can safely say I used just 10% of all this on the trip . My friend had told me about ‘Overnight pull-ups’ since the babe refuses diapers now, and I wanted to be prepared just in case. And no stroller. This was a risk, but the babe hardly sits on a stroller and the larger ones are too big for the small flats and cars in India. The umbrella stroller we have needs two hands, and my hands were full with my hand baggage.

The babe loved his journey to the plane, getting on and off the train and riding the various escalators and navigating the crowds. Add a few animal characters and it might as well be Disneyland  got a pack of toys from the air hostesses that he loved, specially a set of playing cards. He enjoyed his lollipop, and watching the planes as we went down the runway and pointed out houses and water from the sky. He loved ordering his drink – lemonade (not available) and the orange juice. He liked receiving his ‘kids meal’ in a special box, and even, I think going to the potty several times with mom and then tired from the day, he slept off. So quite easy. He was in no mood to get up as we rolled into Amsterdam, and it broke my heart to wake him, but I had to. See I had traveled with no stroller, so I had no choice. But he did so well. I was so amazed. He woke up, gazed at the planes docking at the various gates, walked out pulling his strolley and loved riding the conveyor belts (sorry I don’t know the words for it). On the way, some bad news – flight delayed for two hours, extending my stopover to six hours. With a babe surviving on 4 hrs of sleep last night.

We chose a café from where we could watch the planes, and I ordered a large juice for mom and chocolate milk (in a cool bottle called chocomel) for the babe. I poured it into tall glass – in keeping with the swanky environs of our bar – and he drank it all up, holding it carefully with little hands. A visit to the restrooms – so much more spacious, clean and roomier than Atlanta! – the part I dreaded most, having to go to the restroom with the babe each time. And then out searching for entertainment in the airport. We rode the elevator up and down, browsed the shops, played ‘find the treasure’ (such as where do they sell cheese, crocs, milk etc). Then we had a brunch of muffins and fruit salad. Rode the conveyor belts several times. Looked at planes. Looked at more planes. Looked at pilots. Looked at copilots. You get the picture.

Then we had to go through one more security check. Have you all noticed that they treat you different on flights from Europe to India than from the US to Europe? Its as if you have downgraded a class of travel. There was a huge crowd of non to happy passengers pushing through long lines to go through yet another security check and then more waiting. Total delay – 3 hrs, pushing our stopover to 7 hours.

What a relief to get in the plane. Here I was not a nomad, searching for a place to sit and things to do. It was good to be restricted to my seat, and knowing meals will come without draining euros or brainpower. Here I hoped the babe, who had been on his best behavior would get some sleep. He did. Just as we were cruising down the runway. So did I. He slept three hours, me broken and less. We played some more when he woke. My co passenger was very nice. So it was all nice. Except when we reached Delhi were more delayed. I was just so impatient at that point. So desperate to reach the comforts of my home in India. I had something to learn from the babe who seemed at ease and happy. Somehow the hours past by.

The airplane ran out of immigration cards, which meant I had to fill them at the Delhi airport, which meant I was at the back of the line. And when we came out, I couldn’t find one of my bags, which surfaced on the side of the conveyor belt, where it had been waiting all along. Did you know that people come over to you and help you with your bags (you have to pay them later)? I was first accosted by a suspicious character who promised to take my bags to the ‘car’. When I said my parents were here, he said it is very difficult to find them, and I should let them me and take a car. And then he disappeared when I walked towards the area where some of the airline baggage folks were. I helped them and had to tip them, but at least they were not creepy.

Finally past the green channel, handing out slips of paper to the custom officers, and out to the crowd of people with bleary eyes and bright smiles, among them my dad with a camera and my mom. Home at last.

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7 Comments

  1. Priya

    Glad that you reached safely. When I went to Bombay last time, somebody had approached me too to help me with the bags.I didnt talk to him and he went away..

  2. Smitha

    Hey,which flight did you take? Wasnt there a one way flight from here to Delhi?

  3. Khushi Mommy

    No, there is one from chicago or NY.

  4. sarmila

    ARE YOU IN INDIA NOW?

  5. Khushi

    No, I am featuring some old posts. Sorry for the confusion.

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