Our month-long adventure in India begins with traveling a marathon of 24-hours. The flight itself is 22-hours including a three hour layover in Dubai Airport. Add in an hour commute to the airport and arriving 90 minutes early to get our bags checked in and the whole experience takes about a full day. Fortunately the flight itself is a fun experience. We now fly Emirates Airlines, recommended by frequent India travelers as one of the best airlines to fly with. The cabin is luxurious, with televisions at every seat and a significant amount of room to lower the back of the chair. The food is freshly made and flavorful. They even serve you chocolates and about any type of drink you could want. Hubby and I indulged in a few sweets and we each had our fair share of mango juice.
Knowing I was about to be sitting upright for the next full day, I got in a workout during the morning and hurried home to finish my last minute laundry and packing. I was adamant about preparing ahead of time as much as possible but there was still the inevitable last minute hustle.
I wanted to assure I had time to clean the apartment thoroughly so we would arrive back to a clean home. The day before we left I spent a few hours vacuuming the rugs, sweeping and mopping the floors, scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms, clearing out the refrigerator, changing the sheets and washing and folding all the laundry.
I also wanted to make some homemade snacks for us to enjoy during our airport waiting time in San Francisco and in Dubai and to help us avoid spending a fortune on tasteless airport food. I made a couple of aloo parathas (Indian flat-breads stuffed with a spicy potato mixture), a sweet granola nut mix with almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, shredded coconut, agave and coconut oil. It makes a wonderfully tasty snack of healthy fats. It’s supposed to stick together and be cut into bars for easy snacking but this batch crumbled to the touch so I turned it into a granola mix and tossed into a Ziploc bag.
On the day of our departure our driver arrived around 2:00PM in a shiny black Lincoln Town car! Hubby knows I’ve always admired these sleek looking cars transporting people to and from the airport and have wished to ride in one myself some day. As a town car costs the same a taxi, he arranged for it to pick us up.
Having a town car arrive at our door step was a dream come true and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride to San Francisco. As luck would have it, our driver was a Punjabi man and he and Hubby hit it off immediately.
We arrived at the airport with plenty of extra time, sailing quickly through check-in and security. While waiting in the security line we met a nice couple similar to us; an American girl and Indian boy living in San Francisco. They were off to South India for his brothers wedding. It was the girl’s first trip to India and she reminded me how I felt on my first time to India: the excitement of traveling outside of the US for the first time and the thrill of the unknown.
Finally we boarded the flight. I always feel the flight attendants from Emirates are some of the most glamorous out there. The uniform for the women is a beautiful tan and maroon suit and a red cap with a sheer white scarf that cascades down one side of the face and is casually draped over the shoulder.
The women wear this cap upon boarding and departing, removing it once the flight has taken off as the scarf will get in the way. Out of a cabin crew of twenty, sixteen different languages were spoken, including Czechoslovakian, Hindi, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese, German, French, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Tagalog and Arabic.
The first leg of the flight from San Francisco to Dubai is sixteen hours. Hubby and I immediately started on the in-flight movie selection. We paused the movies to get up and stretch our legs about every 30 minutes. We have found if we don’t get up and move a bit, our feet and legs really swell. Hubby made it through about 2 full movies before dozing off to sleep for a few hours. I was a bit afraid to fall asleep and wake up with a lot of leg pain (it’s hard to sleep while sitting up without becoming extremely stiff) so I continued to watch the movies and made my way through six films before landing in Dubai.
Dubai is one of the fanciest airports in the world. Dubai is known for glitz and glamor. A mecca for shopaholics and luxury lifestyle. To give the world an impression of the city’s wealth, Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (2, 717 feet; seven times taller than the Empire State Building). In the airport you can shop all the major luxury brands while awaiting your next flight, or grab a bite with a five course meal before your next flight. Just make sure any shopping you do doesn’t make your carry-on exceed the allotted 7 pounds.
Finally, after 3 hours at the Dubai airport and another three hours flight to Bombay, give or take an hour of waiting for luggage and going through immigration, we stepped outside into Bombay and were greeted by a wave of heat and humidity…and it was only three o-clock in the morning! Hubby’s younger brother was waiting to greet us outside and in no time we dashed off to the house as soon as we could find a taxi.
Hubby’s family lives on the fourth floor of an apartment complex called “Takshila”. We drove through the brass gates of the complex and saw Hubby’s tall and slender father waiting to greet us. Even though it was 4:00 AM by the time we arrived home, both Hubby’s mother and father were awake to see us and we were greeted with open arms and affection.
After we all lugged our baggage up four flights of stairs I sat in the living room across from Hubby. He had his father sitting on his left cracking jokes and his mother on his right overwhelmed with tears of joy. We were finally home and Hubby was so happy to be with his family that even though we were exhausted, we stayed up talking for another hour. Everyone spoke in Punjabi and I only caught one word every minute but it was fun to watch them all catch up. No one wanted to be the first to go to bed.
Seeing Hubby home with his loving family is the sight that always makes the long flight worth it.