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Well here goes. Tonight I thought that I would give my beautiful wife a break from updating our blog, since she is busy answering the multitude of emails she receives each day and also the questions on the support group forum. Before I start, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you that have blessed us with well wishes, prayers and words of encouragement. When Rhonda started the blog, it was to allow others to see that they are not alone when dealing with infertility. Each day, as we check the visits to the blog, we are amazed to see that there are so many people following our journey, and from all over the world. It is very humbling. We are just a plain couple, no one special, that wants to have a baby more than anything else.
As a husband sharing in this amazing journey, I can definitely see how having the blog and the support group has made my Rhonda more positive. It allows her to express her feelings, be them good or bad, positive or negative. The journey to having a baby is not an easy one, but in the end when we are looking into the eyes of a tiny little "us" then it will all be worth it. So my point is, that if you are dreaming of having a baby, but can't, Surrogacy might be the answer that you are looking for and joining the support group may give you the answers to questions you might have or at least allow you to make informed decisions. Well enough of that.
Prior to starting out on our journey half way around the world to have a baby, I made it a point to do as much research as possible into IVF, surrogacy, India and Mumbai. So I would like to share some tips and pointers for your upcoming trip to Mumbai.
My grandfather always said that there are lots of ways to skin a cat (sorry cat lovers!), which means that just because we did it a particular way, you don't have to. You may find a better way, and if you do, please share it.
For our flights, we used Delta. We booked and purchased directly from delta.com which I found to be the best price and the best choice for flight times. They have a direct flight from JFK to Mumbai, and both times it has been an hour early which is a bonus. The aircraft they use is the brand new Boeing 777. An amazing aircraft, lots of room, very comfortable, great meals and free movies on your own portable built in video player. I managed to watch 6 movies from JFK to Mumbai, see if anyone can top that!! Try to get some sleep on the flight so that you are not totally exhausted. It doesn't take long to get through immigration, and by the time you do your bags are ready for pickup and you will need some energy to get through it all, since it may be a while until you are checked in and in bed.
Mumbai Airport in my opinion is not bad. It is definitely changing rapidly, and for the better. On our return trip home from Mumbai, the airport drastically changed in just a matter of 2 weeks. On arrival, like I mentioned earlier, you have to clear immigration first. You get your passport stamped and turn in the customs form to the inspector. The inspector will return your passports to you and also give you the bottom portion of the customs form, don't lose this!! It is pretty non eventful for US Citizens and Canadians, it is more of a hassle for returning Indian Citizens. On to get your bags. The carousels are clearly marked. They even provide carts and guess what, they are free!!! Definitely take advantage of the carts since it is a long haul through the airport to the exit and where you can get picked up. Once you have your bags then it is off to customs. Just follow the crowd since everyone has to go through. All it involves is putting all of your bags on a conveyor belt and they go through an xray machine and out the other side where you put them back on your cart and head for the exit. Remember the bottom part of your customs form that you didn't lose? You have to turn it in to one of the military looking guys in order to exit. Follow the crowd until you come to the exit. You will know it when you see it, it is when you will be smacked right in the face with your first glimpse of Mumbai and everything that makes it unique. The noise, the smells, the activity and all of the people, did I mention lots and lots of people? This is where you will catch a taxi to get to your hotel or if you have a hotel that has an airport shuttle, then look for their sign among the 100's that are there waiting for you.
I guess now is a good time to talk about taxi's. There are 3 types: A/C cab, Non-A/C cab and my favorite, the auto-rickshaw. A/C cabs are the most expensive, then Non-A/C cabs are somewhat cheaper and then auto rickshaws are very inexpensive and fun!! I went online to the Mumbai traffic police website and printed copies of the taxi tariff cards. These are the cards that have the rate they will charge you. All of the taxis have meters but since it is not still 1960 they haven't been updated and thus they need a conversion card for the current rate. Having a copy of these helps to alleviate the possibility of being ripped off due to you being a "rich foreigner" The tariff cards show the meter reading and the appropriate amount in rupees that you have to pay. It is up to you to add a few Rupees for a tip if the service was good, and don't forget to tip anyone who helps with your luggage. 10 or 20 rupees will do. There are also prepaid cabs available from the airport and most hotels. They will tell you how much it will cost to go to your destination and that is what you will pay when you arrive. Again this helps to alleviate any possibility of being taken advantage of. I want to make it clear that in all of our dealings with taxis we were never taken advantage of, so don't be worried, just be aware. The auto rickshaws are 3 wheeled enclosed motorcycles. On a nice day or evening it is a great way to experience all that is Mumbai. Be aware that it is a bit noisy and you do every now and then get a whiff of car exhaust, but hey isn't that what's it all about? But talk about fun. They zip in and out of traffic and at times you are mere inches from other vehicles. Maybe not for everyone, but give it a try! These are very inexpensive and they are literally everywhere. Whatever the meter reads, subtract 1 from it and that is what you pay in Rupees. An example would be if the meter reads 7.6 then you would pay 75 Rupees, got the idea? Again if you want to give a tip a couple of rupees would suffice.
Well, Rhonda is telling me that I am writing too much and no one wants to go through so much information. Maybe she has a point there, but I just wanted to give what I thought was useful information. I will continue with this in a later post, let me know if it is useful to you. Gerry Out!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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