Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Arrival

Post two of our traveling to India, not to be confused with the movie from the ‘90s involving aliens and global warming.

We were met at the baggage claim by someone from the GSO, after using the Diplomatic Visas and Airline Crew line in immigration. I guess we kind of stood out as the only people to have two cats… I have to say, I've never been met at an airport by anyone other than family, but in this case it was a huuuuuge relief. It pretty much marked the end of our stress, since we knew everything would be taken care of from then on. It ended up being even better than we expected, because we slowly realized (once all bags on our carousel had been taken), that the bag containing my son’s car seat hadn't made it.

I've had misplaced bags before in the US. I can’t stress enough how different a process putting in our claim was. In the US, my general experience had been that waiting in line was the ‘hard part.’ The line wasn't that big at MAA, but the process after that was an adventure. We spoke to 2 people at the Airport Assistance counter and filled out some paperwork. Then we were walked over to the immigration folks where we spoke to 3 more people, some more than once, and with slight changes and additions to the paperwork. Finally we headed back to the airport assistance counter where we spoke to another person, before finally settling things. Somehow, during this process we also ‘went through customs’ even though my wife and son were hanging out with all the bags near the carousel. The plus side was, all we had to do was walk out after that. No one in India (to my knowledge) asked about the cats, but my guide left me for a few minutes to talk to people, so it’s possible he just greased those wheels without me knowing.

Once outside the airport we met my social sponsor, hopped in a motor pool van, and headed into town. Originally we thought we’d be in temporary housing for a brief period, but the renovations on our housing had been completed, so we were actually headed ‘home.’ I really surprised our sponsor by recognizing a restaurant that I’d seen was very close to our apartment when checking the area out on the internet. I don’t think he was expecting me to say, “Oh, we must be nearly there” when heading to a place I’d never been!
At this point it was past 3am, but we couldn't contain our excitement and we immediately started checking out our ‘new digs.’ My son quickly noticed that we’d been loaned a box of toys and immediately got down to business pushing his ‘car’ all around. This place is way nicer than our old house was, but I’ll go into details in another post. I will say, it’s readily apparent that we’re not in the US. Ignoring any differences in architecture, electric plugs, or whatever… Chennai just smells different. Not bad, but there’s a noticeably different smell in the air. Also, the random sounds of the local animals and frequent quick bursts of car horn create an unfamiliar cacophony.

PS: We’re in INDIA!

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