Friday, November 28, 2008

Chaos in Mumbai

Our first two days in Goa were a bit strange, but also relaxing. The hour drive from the airport to the yoga center showed us a more rural side of India -- women riding on the backs of motorcycles wearing brightly colored saris, small shops along the winding dusty roads, gaily painted trucks all bearing the reminder "Honk Please OK" on the back bumper, a rule that was widely and liberally applied.

The yoga center was, as you might expect, a calm oasis with a large open-aired practice pavilion, a separate eating area, and small huts dotting the jungle. There appeared to be a mix-up with our room, so when we arrived they put us in a nicer, tree-top room near the eating area. We lay down on the comfortable, 4 poster bed to relax, but I quickly noticed a rustling sound from above -- large rodents circling the perimeter of the walls where there was a gap with the ceiling. Combined with the stress we had put ourselves through in Mumbai, this was too much for me. In my high-strung, city-stressed mode, I rushed to try to find a manager to complain to, but the placid villagers staffing the reception area didn't understand my panic, and when I finally found the center's owner -- a shaved-headed Londoner who knew that he was living a dream on a beach, with beautiful yoginis lounging around him at breakfast -- he reminded me that we were in a jungle, in the rats' territory, not ours.

So I finally accepted the rats on the ceiling, and encouraged one of the center's cats to hang out on our porch. We pushed the bed away from the wall so that the droppings wouldn't fall on us, and tried to enjoy ourselves. Took a few yoga classes, swam in the clear ocean, tried to avoid the people selling beads and sarongs on the beach, wandered through the little village near the center. All the while, having heavy discussions: "do you want a baby? I don't know, do you want a baby? Are we really ready for a baby -- emotionally, financially, maritally?" Most of the people at the yoga center were German, so weren't speaking to us much, so we were again alone in our thoughts and our great deliberations.

On Thursday night, there was a blackout in the village -- no lights for miles and miles. You don't realize how dark the dark can really be when you are miles away from a city. In the dark, we found a spot where we could get cell phone reception and called the doctors to see if the egg harvest was on schedule for Friday. They mentioned that there had been a bomb, but that things were returning to normal and that things would go on as scheduled on Friday. We didn't think much about the bomb -- we were wrapped up in our own personal drama. But the next morning at breakfast, we had finally gotten friendly with two of the German girls, a television host and the lead singer from a rock band, and they told us a little more: there had been a terrorist attack, with several bombs around the city, including one at the Taj hotel, which we had stopped in the day before the attach to use the bathroom. We had plans to walk to a nearby town to do some shopping, but once we realized the scope of the event, realized we needed to get in touch with our family first, so we found the nearby internet cafe. A quick check of my e-mail revealed that my family was in hysterics. We had left them without any itinerary because our trip to Goa was planned at the last minute, so they hadn't the faintest idea where we were. In the US, news coverage of the attacks ran non-stop over Thanksgiving day, so my family had spent the entire day calling each other in a panic. They contacted the US embassy and every yoga center in Goa, and by the time we reached them they were trying to figure out how they would identify our bodies. We were embarrassed and a bit mystified about why they were so worried if they thought we were in Goa, but we were happy to set everyone's minds' at ease.

The trip back home was a long one. Security at the Goa airport was tight, and flights out of the airport were delayed (we heard a rumor that the runway was closed due to military use of the runway, but this was never confirmed. Luckily, we had time in between our domestic and international flight, so when we landed in Mumbai, we had a car pick us up and take us to a (bad) Chinese restaurant for dinner then to see an (even worse) Bollywood moview for a few hours. Security for our car to get near the movie theater was quite high, and they initially didn't want to let the driver wait for us. We were glad he did, though, because the movie was hard for us to follow (it was a comedy with several different plot lines and no song and dance numbers), so we left at intermission.

Many many more steps of security awaited us at the International airport. Our flight left at 3 am India time, and because Adam was still having some reservations about going forward with the pregnancy, by the time we arrived at our stopover in London, I told him that he should just phone the doctors and call it off. The implantation had probably already happened at that point, but I was mad at Adam and exhausted by the whole decision-making process. He really didn't want to make the call, though, and while we were having that final argument near a pay phone, a small, pigtailed little girl who looked like she might have been Indian peeked around the phone booth and smiled at us. That was it -- I think Adam's heart melted a little, and maybe his fears abated enough to say "let's just see what happens. If we're pregnant, we'll have a baby; if not, we'll still have a wonderful life." So we got on the plane home, with two weeks to wait until we found the answer.

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