The plan was to travel from Zurich to Chennai together. With Hd. But as always, work came up and Hd asked me to postpone. But me being me, asked aloud "whats the worst that can happen" and decided to travel alone with 2 kids. I knew Ashu would nt be a problem as long as shes not told to walk while shes sleepy. Antu would be ok too since I have sure shot way to shut her mouth, by breast feeding! Kodis Mom, who I think is being my guardian angel without actually knowing it herself, posted recently about her trip alone with the kids and that gave me more confidence. I prepared Ashu for weeks that she was muttering, "I ll cooperate, Amma" even in her sleep. I tried making Antu walk but no luck there. She had her mind set only on crawling. May be she ll change her mind once she saw the airplane bathroom, I told myself. So on 20th afternoon, Hd left us in the airport, shook his head one last time at my foolishness and walked away. This is it, I told myself. The ultimate test!
I carried only a backpack with the bare minimum requirements. Ashu carried a tiny backpack and also a small children's pullman suitcase. It carried a set of clothes, toys, books and snacks for her. It was very light and I could carry it if it was too much for her. But the poor darling, pulled it by herself everywhere. So it sure was a good buy. Emirates has a good in flight entertainment so from Zurich to Dubai, she watched Mickey Mouse Wonder house and Little Einsteins back to back, sipped juice, nibbled on the flight food and had a good time. Antu slept off during take off and slept for two hours in the bassinet leaving me to eat in peace and also visit the bathroom. Then I fed her some baby food, read to her, sang to her, changed her and kept her busy. When a kind gentleman smiled at her, I narrowed down the victim and plonked Antu on his lap and used the bathroom and came out in a record time of 5 1/2 seconds, thanked him and picked Antu and walked back to our seat before the man could realize what had happened! Ashu nodded off just before we landed in Dubai. Trouble, I told myself!
Ashu cried when I woke her up and asked her to walk. But she was ok within a few minutes. I found the complimentary strollers at the Dubai airport for Antu and after that, it was an easy ride. We window shopped a bit, had hot chocolate and I fed and changed Antu and it was already time to board the Chennai flight. We did nt get the first row seats with bassinets for this leg. But it was no so bad. Ashu slept the whole time. Antu was a little fidgety but otherwise ok. One thing I should ve done was to take Ashu to the bathroom and used it myself just before we landed. But there was no time and on hindsight, that was a big mistake. We landed in Chennai and I felt invincible and patted myself at my back not knowing what was in store for me!
I had filled all our immigration forms in the plane. When we walked out of the plane, there was a long line for the swine flu test. Since there are no complimentary strollers like in Dubai airport and we dont get our own strollers at the gate anymore, I had to carry Antu all the time and my hands almost died on me and fell off. Ashu seemed to decide enough was enough and refused to do anything I said. And then the swine flu testing person asks me to fill 3 more forms with all our details. What am I supposed to do with Antu? Leave her on the tobacco spat, stained floor and fill the forms? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, thats exactly what I had to do. The lady just felt Antus head for temperature, asked us if anyone has fever or cough and sent us off. When she tried to touch Ashus head, she wriggled and ran away! Then we stood in the immigration line for a long time. Just before it was our turn, Ashu started bawling and said she wanted to use the bathroom otherwise she ll just "go there"! I thought about it for 2 seconds, then took her to the bathroom which was way past behind the swine flu lines. Ashu took one look at the bathroom and refused to go in. Then she did nt know how to use the Indian style toilets, I did nt know what to do with the small suitcase or Antu. Thought its ok to lose the suitcase than Antu and took Antu inside leaving the suitcase outside. Ashu created all sort of mess you dont want to know about and after almost slipping and dropping Antu in the toilet, we came out unhurt but not the most hygienic!
Then we came back to the immigration line and when I requested a person in the front if I can go before him since I was standing in the line before, the man REFUSED! I thanked him and tried the handicapped and diplomat line. Since there were many wheelchair bound people before me, it took almost 30 mins for our turn. Antu cried 29 mins of it and both my hands were completely dead and I would nt even have realized if they had fallen off! Ashu was the most cranky by this time and when we reached the hand baggage screening area, she refused to part with her backpack. The kind man at the security took one look at me and waved us off. I crossed the exit to go to the baggage claims where my father and father in law waved at us. I glared at them and if I had a third eye, they both would ve been burnt to ashes in 2 seconds. As luck would have it, I got my stroller and the two checked in suitcases after 40 minutes. By this time, I was beyond caring and left Antu on the floor where she was crawling and almost getting trampled by people and their trolleys. Ashu was a little recharged after seeing a glimpse of her Thathas and looked out for our suitcases which showed up at last. The porter helped me with the baggage and after what seemed an eternity, we walked out. I plonked Antu to the first pair of hands that reached towards me. Thankfully, it was my fathers.
Verdict: Doable journey with a nightmarish end.