We’re back in Khajuraho, Kalyani is almost 1 month old, and I still haven’t managed to write everything about delivery! It’s too difficult to write, and yet there is so much to write on my mind! I often think about writing by hand when I’m near Kalyani, because I don’t want to have my computer too much near her – but maybe I’m just paranoid. Oh my god, where am I going to start!? I wanted to write about Varanasi and it didn’t happen; I wanted to write about Delhi and it didn’t happen, and now we’re in Khajuraho already!
But I guess I’ll write about what’s on my mind now for now, so that’s about Khajuraho.
We came back three days ago after three days in Delhi. We flew from Varanasi to Delhi and it was incredible to bypass some 12 hours of train, because it was the first time I was flying within India. It felt like we arrived in Delhi by magic. It was nice to be in the airport because there’s AC and the temperatures are seriously rising. (Look! I said I’d write about Khajuraho and I’m writing about Delhi!) It was just a little slower, because I had to make sure Kalyani was fed before every step, so to speak. It took a long time to get to the Varanasi airport so I fed her before the check-in. And after we got our luggage after arrival in Delhi, I fed her before we got out and on the taxi. It’s tricky to breastfeed with my bra and in a kurta (tunic) – it was convenient at home when I was wearing no bra and just a small t-shirt. But alas, that ain’t going to happen no more in Khajuraho where I need to be well covered at all times. And that’s another reason why I am SO GLAD I was in Varanasi in freedom-land around birth. Anyway, apart from that, Kalyani just slept during the entire flight to Delhi. I couldn’t even wake her up to breastfeed her for take off and landing to prevent any ear pain due to change in pressure – she just wouldn’t wake up! She just slept peacefully on my lap during the journey, and she was the quietest of all other babies, ha. So that went well. Oh, and it was so odd to see her name printed on a boarding pass!
It was really difficult to get up at 7am for our embassy appointment on the following day though! I don’t know what happened, perhaps she was perturbed by the trip, but she only slept between 2 and 5am and wanted to feed the whole time before and after, and so I didn’t sleep more than three hours either. She’s been amazing with sleep most of the time apart from a few disturbed nights – but that time I cried with exhaustion. Kishan had to take her so I’d rest a little. But we had no choice but to get on our paperwork nonetheless… So first we went to the French embassy at 9am to register her birth. I was breastfeeding her in the waiting room all the time so the lady-officer (who was very nice and not so stuck-up like most embassy workers – even had a tattoo!) came to give her our papers in the waiting room and we didn’t have to go to her office! So we got her French birth certificate, and her details filled in in our family book. Then we decided we’d also apply for her passport while we were there. We had all required documents except for her passport photo! The consul indicated where we could get her photo taken and off we took a rickshaw there and back. When we realised she wouldn’t be allowed to sleep because she had to keep her eyes open for an ID photo, I stopped feeding her and packed her in the baby-carrier. It was really funny to try to get her to look straight for the photo. Kishan’s a lot better than me at waking her up; with me she just doses to sleep. Finally we got a hilarious photo taken in which I just think she looks like an obese cleaning lady or something… Really odd. Then we went back to the French embassy, into another office and applied for her passport. What a crazy feeling to apply for her passport! All these papers make her so much more real and official!!!
I was exhausted, but after another feed and a change at the French embassy (nice, cool and clean place to care for a baby!) we went to the FRRO (foreign regional registration office) to check whether we could really not apply for my and Kalyani’s OCI cards from Delhi – and no, we really have to apply from Mumbai – big sigh – and apply for a visa – supposedly – from Bhopal (!!!) for her as soon as she’ll be in possession of her French passport. Oh well, let’s see later.
And then we went back to our friends’ flat. After food and a bath for the little one I just couldn’t take it any more and went to sleep for three hours with her. I felt odd and groggy for the rest of the day.
I don’t know why I’m writing all this – it’s not the most important – but I follow the flow, right? Our friends in Delhi were the sweetest. They let us have one of their room and all slept in the other one. They cooked for us, looked after us, made sure I was well-hydrated, and they were all in love with Kalyani. The cats were quite puzzled by her cries and petite size; were they wondering of which breed she was? I wonder. And even in Delhi, everyday we had visitors for Kalyani – my Japanese friend who lives in Delhi, Kishan’s brother who now studies in Delhi, and my cousin and his girlfriend who are in India for three weeks.
And then it was time to go to get the night train to get back to Khajuraho. So far Kalyani has been on a cycle-rickshaw, auto-rickshaws, taxis, a plane, and a night train. Just a couple of weeks ago I hardly dared to go out with her… and now at three weeks of age she’s the only one of Kishan’s family (except him of course) to have been on a plane… When I booked that flight to Delhi I was still not comfortable with the idea of a full night with her on the train – now I was OK… So we went back to Khajuraho by night train – AC of course. I have to say I felt really odd in the beginning with all the passengers coming and going in the aisle with their big luggage. I was really uncomfortable. And all these Indians. And they were looking at us like we were circus freaks. But after everyone was in bed and the carriage was quiet, everything was fine, and Kalyani slept really well, as though rocked by the movements of the train…
And now I’ve “reached” Khajuraho, which I was initially thinking of writing about, and I just want to stop writing. Gah. “Come on, carry on! Kalyani is sleeping next to you anyway”. Yes, because sometimes she takes all my time and I wish I had more time. And then when I do have time when she sleeps I feel bad thinking about myself, and I think I should look after her more…
It was odd to arrive in Khajuraho. I thought I would cry but in the end I didn’t. There is so much I will have to deal with, to compromise about. When I reached the house door with Kalyani in the baby-carrier, my mother-in-law brought a pot of water and circled it seven times around our heads. Yeah, all these Hindu superstitious things, I mean. But I thought as long as it has no effect on Kalyani – and to me that’s just her way of welcoming her at home (and fight off bad spirits or something) then that’s fine… There will be plenty other things though. There are already plenty – and I’ll have to write about it properly at another time. Now I just want to cuddle my wee girl who’s been sleeping for a while, and who will wake up soon. Yes, because it’s like falling in love all over again – yes really. I just want to kiss her and hug her all the time, eat her nose, sing her (improvised) lullabies. Indians don’t kiss and cuddle their babies much I find. Well, she’ll get plenty of that with me. And silliness too, and silly nicknames, and explanations. Yes – explanations. I explain to her everything I do – which I guess “by definition” rural Indians don’t do, since they don’t question what they do, they do things “because it is so”, because “we do like this”. It seems to me anyway. I will write more about it later…
There was a pause in my entry, and then a miracle happened. I wanted to go out for a walk with Kalyani. I never know where to go in Khajuraho, there’s just nowhere fun to go to. And Kishan had gone to buy vegetables at the weekly market. So I put Kalyani in the baby carrier, and I told my mother-in-law from downstairs; “I’m going out” – “Are you taking Guriya (the doll)?” – “Of course!” I said. And then the miracle happened. “Wait, I’m coming!” And so we both walked to the town centre with Kalyani. It had never happened before; I mean we had never walked the two of us to the town before. Ever. She was going to the temple; I ended up going to drink a fresh fruit juice. As we came out of the house the children from our neighbours’ house ran to us to see Kalyani for the first time; they were really excited to see her – that (and the beautiful sunset) made me happy.
PS: After this evening, Kalyani has also been on a motorbike.