We have been home for 5 weeks now. I have sorted in my mind the details of the trip. I think now I can journal our trip. I planned on journaling through out the trip but I just never got around to it.
After many months of waiting and days of packing we were finally ready to travel to India. We had 6 large suitcases that were right at the weight limit of 50 lbs each. We each had a carry on and a small bag. We left Charlotte NC on February 13th at 1155 on a US Airways flight to Washington Dulles. We had a 5 hour layover. We left on a Lufthansa fight to Frankfurt Germany. The flight was 6 ½ hours long. We landed in the morning of the 14th. After a 4 hour layover in Germany, we boarded our flight to Kolkata India. The flight was 8 hours long. We landed at about 1:00 am Kolkata time on February 15th . All of our luggage made it to India without a problem. We traded some money. The exchange rate was 42.45 rupees per US dollar. We had to take 2 cars to the hotel because of all our luggage. There were children at the airport begging at 2:00am. I just couldn’t look at them. We took a 20 minute ride to the hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Hindusthan in Kolkata. The room had beautiful hardwood floors and a king size bed. We finally laid down at 3:00am.
Thursday February 15, 2007
We woke up at about 10:00am that morning. I had my first panic attack. I had forgotten to print out the travel guide with Anju’s phone number. We got internet access and I got the number. We called the orphanage. Anju wasn’t at that building and we got another number to call. After a couple tries, Patrick finally got through. Anju gave us the option to pick Ananya up that day (Thursday). I could not resist. We started gathering all the orphanage donations and went to find lunch. We ended up eating at one of the restaurants in the hotel at about 1:00pm. Anthony had Chinese noodle soup non vegetarian, I had spaghetti with tomato, basil and garlic, Patrick had non vegetarian fried rice. We just about ran out of time and I had to run upstairs and get all of our things from the room to take into the orphanage. We had 3 plastic bags and a large duffle bag full of things to leave.
The ride to the orphanage in a hotel car took about 20 minutes. We found the building after alittle searching. There are no signs outside to let you know it is an orphanage. We walked in through metal gates and up a narrow staircase. We could hear all of the babies. Anju met us and invited us into her office. We sat down and she said something to another lady. She had us sign the book and we had to write our address. She told us about Ananya, her eating schedule and told us how she only cries when she needs something. She gave us a box of Lactogen formula, a box of infant cereal, and a package of cookies.
Then one of the Ayahs brought Ananya in. We met her in the open lobby area. She looked like she had been asleep and was confused. Patrick had a camera and Anthony had the video camera. I approached Ananya and told her hello. The Ayah handed her to me. Ananya took one look at me and started screaming. We all spent a few minutes trying to calm her down while I was holding her. It didn’t work. The Ayah took her back and she immediately stopped crying. I walked away to let her calm down. I went into the baby room. There were about 9 babies in this room with maybe 6 cribs. A couple were actually bassinets. 2 or 3 of the babies were on the floor. I asked Anju which one was Mouli (Daya). I went over and picked her up. She didn’t cry. I told her that Mommy and Daddy were coming soon and that they love her. We took pictures of the room. I went back out to try and hold Ananya again. Once in my arms, she started crying once again. After a few minutes, the Ayah took her and calmed her down. Anju kept reassuring me that it would be ok. I kept telling everyone that I knew it was ok. She just needed to get to know me. We tried a 3rd time to give her to me. After a few minutes, she did calm down. We stayed a few more minutes. Anju assured us if we needed anything while we were there to call her.
We made arrangements to visit the other building (Lakeview Road). A couple of blocks and our driver stops at this alley. They quickly usher me out of the car and down this alley. We enter this doorway, once again no sign or indication of what was inside. We follow a man down a hallway. We go into a room. There are about 6 older children in this room. Patrick starts taking pictures of each child. We go into another room and there are older babies in there. Ananya started to fuss and an Ayah took her from me. She immediately calmed down. I started to look around the room at the other children. I asked to see Prasun. They show me this chubby little boy. He was laying in a crib. One of the Ayahs picked him up and handed him to me. My first impression was “wow, he is heavy”. I put him down and asked about Swarnadip. They showed me a little boy about Ananya’s size. The Ayah handed him to me and he started crying. I immediately put him down. I didn’t want another child crying because of me. I went looking for Ananya. The ayah gave her back to me. We went upstairs. There were 2 rooms full of babies. The infants were in the first room. We took our shoes off. Some of the Ayahs were on the floor doing stretching on some of the infants. Others were feeding babies. The second room had newborns. There were 2 babies in an closed bassinet with heat lamps. There were other newborns with feeding tubes. They were so little. We took a picture with the Ayahs and left. The ride back to the hotel was nice. Ananya slept on my lap the entire ride. I felt like I had a permanent smile on my face. We got back to the hotel and relaxed for a while. Patrick and Anthony went to sleep. I ordered room service and tried to get Ananya to eat rice with milk and sugar. That didn’t work. Ananya was up until about 11:00pm before I could finally get her to sleep. I was updating our blog and emailing people. Everyone wanted to see the pictures.
Friday February 16, 2007
We woke up happy as could be. Patrick was holding Ananya when she woke up. We found out quickly that she is all smiles in the morning. We went to breakfast in the hotel. Ananya didn’t eat too well. She didn’t really drink at all either. I didn’t push it much though. We arranged for a car and went shopping at New Market. Patrick seemed a little shocked by the appearance of the Market. It looks a lot like an American Flea Market. We decide to risk it. A young man volunteered to guide us. He took us to a jewelry shop first. The owner got Anthony and Ananya some Mango juice. He showed us so many beautiful things. I couldn’t keep him from putting more things in front of me. The first time he gave us a price for all the things I just about died. He said 31,000 rupees. We started taking things away and ended up only buying ankle bells for Ananya and a necklace. Next we went to a sari shop. I didn’t really like the prices that they were quoting me. I got 1 sari. We got a cute outfit for Ananya. An Indian outfit for Anthony and ordered one for Patrick. We had to return the next day because they were making the outfit for Patrick. We chose to return to the hotel after that. Ananya fell asleep in the carrier. I had to feed her when we got back. I didn’t have the hang of the formula yet. She wouldn’t drink out of a sippy cup or a bottle because she doesn’t suck on things. We played with her in the room. Everyone went to sleep kind of early. Ananya went to sleep without any problems. She slept through the night again.