Tuesday, 29 May 2012


We've been here just a week now.  We have no idea when we'll be leaving, as it's all up to the US consulate and DNACenter.com of Fairfield, Ohio (more on that later).

We have a friend who helped us make arrangements for a hotel here in Mumbai.  Mumbai is a bustling metropolis with really expensive 5-Star hotel options, so a friend really comes in handy.  There were many cryptic text messages and emails from Reshma leading up to our visit.  She kept referencing "the club", saying that we would really love it as there were many things to do there like swimming in the pool, playing cards or working out in the gym.  We weren't really sure what this club was, nor was there any way to google it.  We were out of our comfort zone.  In the days of researching online, we usually make educated choices about travel and everything really.  Reshma kept saying, "don't be too American", meaning let it go, let me host you, don't try to control everything and keep me at an arms length.  So, we went with it.  The challenge is that her "club" only has about 20 rooms and it is highly in demand.  Our travel schedule kept moving, as it still does.  It was impossible to know when we might be cleared for Oliver and Camilla to fly.  So our first three nights in Mumbai were spent in the "club" of a colleague...the NSCI--National Sports Club of India before moving.   Now we're staying at Reshma's club--the Malabar Hill Club.  This one is much nicer. The location is fantastic, on top of the hill, in one of the highest end neighborhoods in Mumbai.  The club is reasonably priced, has a great room with decent restaurant, pool and gym.  It seems that real upside to the club is the bar.  Drinking isn't really widespread here in Mumbai, but apparently it happens behind closed doors at the club and members stop by every evening.

We have been adopted by our new friend Reshma, who, out of town our first night in Mumbai, arranged for her boyfriend to take us to dinner and give us an evening tour of the city.  She is all encompassing and has engaged us fully.  India is a group culture and we are in one now.  We have met Reshma's family, visited her favorite stores and restaurants and see her every day.  Her life is really different from ours and our mutual discovery is enriching our experience.  Reshma is the only daughter of a successful businessman who started in the textile trade.  She has two brothers who have extended the family business to include wood flooring and antiques.  She is a warm, effervescent, open woman who deserves more time later.

Our first morning in Mumbai, we headed straight to the US Consulate at the Banda Kurla Complex about 45 minutes north of downtown.  We were early for our appointment and struck by the high level of security.  The machine gun stations with sandbags surrounding the complex is always a little jarring, but this is Mumbai which was victim to the major terrorist attack last year at the famous Taj Hotel.  We were the first people in line, 20 minutes early for our appointment, hoping to get the process of getting home kickstarted.  I had spent hours preparing the paperwork:  legal copies of our surrogate contract, records of prenatal care for the babies, Indian birth certificates, hospital records and releases, statements that our financial records with the doctors were up to date, copies of our passports and visas, marriage liscence, stella's birth certificate, Matteo & my birth certificates, Matteo's US Naturalization document, tax records and W2s for the last 5 years.  I'm sure I must be forgetting something, but the list is long.  I hoped that my organization and preparation would smooth the way in this arduous process of bureaucracy.  It wouldn't be so.  While we were praised for being diligent, we were also told the process wouldn't all happen today and to expect a few weeks.  Ugh.  We had prepared for the reality that we would likely have to match the babies DNA to ours, so were tested already in the US.  After applying for the CRBA--Consular record of birth abroad--for Camilla and Oliver, we would have to have 2 DNA test kits shipped from the US to the consulate in Mumbai.  Upon its' arrival we would be scheduled for another appointment.  I tried in vain to have the testing center mail the kits before our appointment with the consulate, but they refused.  We needed the formal letter requesting such a test before they would ship it.  We monitored the shipment every step of the way.  Fedex from Ohio to Indianapolis to Paris to New Dehli and finally to Mumbai.  It was signed for at the consulate on Saturday at 12:38pm.  Not too bad.  We jumped on the phone Wednesday morning and now here 4 days later, it has arrived and we have tracking information.   We were feeling optimistic.  Until we called the consulate.  Closed Monday for Memorial Day, Closed Wednesday for an Indian Holiday.  DNA testing only happens on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons.  The kit, while in the complex takes one or two days to get to them.  They will call me back when they have it.  Doomsday.  She actually said it would be next Tuesday.  So we'll be sitting in Mumbai for 2 full weeks waiting for the damned DNA test kits to arrive.  I keep calling back, hoping by some small chance of luck that we can get sqeezed in on Thursday.  After the babies are tested, it will be another 2 weeks here as we wait for the results from the US and for the passports to be generated.  Then two days for the Indian Visa.  It looks like we'll be lucky to be home by June 14th.  

In the meantime, we are so happy we brought Maloa with us to Mumbai.  She gives us the freedom to sleep and see some sights during the day.  Mumbai is a really big city with a few sights.  We have visited a few of them and will see more before leaving.  We are struck by the huge gap between rich and poor as Mumbai has much wealth.  The skyline features the most expensive single home ever built anywhere...a staggering $300M USD.  The home has a maintenance staff of 300 for it's 4 residents.  Yet, while visiting temples, we see the huge population of poor and disabled begging for a penny.  We have eaten dinners in 5 star hotel restaurants where the bill was $100 and we have eaten in small, local spots for $3.  We are paying our full-time, live-in nanny $20 per day, yet having pre-arranged viewings in art-galleries where the going price for a painting is $40,000.  It's hard to absorb the contrast.  

It looks like we'll be spending another week in Mumbai.  The monsoons come in June, so I guess the upside is we'll experience a bit of that.  I look forward to seeing the rain clean the layers of dust and filth away.  We thought about heading south to Goa for a little respite on the beach, but the threat of monsoon season and some caution travelling unnecessarily with the twins held us back.  For now, the journey continues.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer, just wondering... how did you find NSCI Club rooms? We're thinking of staying there too.