Anand is the milk capital of India, reachable by flight from Mumbai in one hour and just over an hours drive from at the Ahmedabad airport. Landing in Ahmedabad in the middle of the night was an experience. Imagine. It's 3am local time and the line at customs is 200 people deep. It seems like a strange time for 3 flights to land simultaneously, but we wait. The airport is new, just built 2 years ago and I am struck by how modern it feels compared to my memories of New Dehli. There is a fountain inside and the sound of cicadas chirping fills Immigration control. It is hot, must be above 90. The crowd around us as we wait for our bag is energized, no jet lag in this group. We are magically blessed with priority tags on our bags, so head outside to find our driver. Again, it's now 3:30am. There are loads of people lined up outside the airport waiting to greet their loved ones, at least 500. There are people hanging out in the parking lot, sitting in a patch of grass. I am keenly aware that it is the middle of the night, but I don't think these people care. It's hot and I guess nobody has to get up for work in the morning????
We are staying at the hotel closest to the hospital where our kids are, the Rama residency. It's clean and close and just fine for our needs. It is an interesting place in that most of the guests are couples, like us, staying here as they fetch their newborn children. Some are cycling through rounds of IVF with Dr. Patel, hoping to have kids either with or without surrogacy. Every possible scenario can be found here at the Rama. There are couples from the US, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, Japan and many from other parts of India as well. I'll save her clinic details for another post, as it is a story by itself. It's strange to meet people from everywhere, some close to us in SF, most of whom we have absolutely nothing in common with, except this one huge thing. We have come half-way around the world to have a baby (or babies in our case:). We all live almost exclusively in our rooms. It is baking 115 degrees outside. Walking to the hospital mid-day we feel the heat radiating up our legs from the asphalt. We all hide in the sanctuary of our semi-sterile, cool hotel rooms. We bump into each other at breakfast in the hotel, in NICU, or in the office of Dr. Hitesh solving problems. We ask about each others babies development and condition constantly, sharing in the celebrations when each baby comes home to the Rama. While many babies are born here (i heard 3 per day), only some are in NICU. The days we spent there with Oliver and Camilla serve as a reminder of how lucky we are after all.
We are a little horrified by the unanimous avoidance of Indian food. We are here in India, happy to indulge in Palak Paneer, street-side samosas, Chana masala and exquisite mangos for every meal. Yes, I can understand that the spicy lentil soup for breakfast may be a little much for some of us, however I will not cave to the crazy. Most of our compatriots are eating corn flakes in their room for breakfast and Dominoes pizza for dinner. As aliens, one would think we would gather and share more of the experience together. If only for a bar, coffee bar or lounge. There is the cool hotel lobby and sometimes we hang out there for a quick chat with passers-by, but we long for a late night card game or something more.