Ok, so while we wait a bit for the delivery to actually happen, I thought I'd fill everyone in on our first few days. Arrived without a hitch. Moinideen, our driver...wait, did we tell you about the luck we fell into? Steve spent the three day Rosh Hashanah holiday in Jerusalem and seated behind him at Shira Hadashah was a very vivacious and guy, the brother of the rabbi of Ikkar in LA, Rabbi Sharon Brous. They reconnected in LA a few weeks ago and when the subject of our impending India trek came up Michael said that he had a wonderful friend and associate named Div who had made it big in IT at a young age here in Mumbai and would probably offer to help us in some way. Well it turns out Div has supplied us with a driver to ferry us to and fro whenever we need him, anytime and all day. Plus two mobile phones, and two wi-fi sticks for the macs. So we arrive and Moinideen is waiting for us and us we get in the car, he hands us a bag with our phones preprogrammed with each other's numbers (Steve Nokia and Steve BB), his number, Div's number, Div's assistant's number, a call center to ask random info for Mumbai, and ourwi-fi sticks for our computers.....and away we go to the hotel. The heavenly connection between Jerusalem, LA and Mumbai is proof of a single all powerful deity or an amazing coordination of demiurgic angels.
Powai, and Hiranandani Gardens in particular, is a middle class to posh area. Amid boulevards and business complexes, shops and restaurants there are shanties and slums, meaning that it looks like the rest of Mumbai, just a lot less traffic. Still, the sidewalks are non existent in places, and there are no traffic lights, and it's still being formed at all places all the time. But the hotel is very nice, simple and nice. Tuesday morning, we join Will and Michael of Baby WAM for breakfast and have a very nice and fun time comparing notes on our experiences. They are a lovely couple from Brisbane (A shout out to you, Daniel!), who were due to give birth the day before us. There was a very exciting moment when we thought we actually might have the same egg donor, therefore knowledge of biological half sibling half way around the world! But it turns out not. Of course, we had looked at the same donor profiles, and picked one in the end that they had used on the first failed go round. Before we checked, we all decided that it would actually be very nice to know, to be able to maybe one day introduce our little orthodox kid with two dads to his/her biological Aussie (not Jewish!) half sib. After breakfast, we traveled over to Bandra, to the clinic, to pick up our introduction letter and original contract copy, which we had to furnish to the hospital so that when the surrogate gives birth, the nurses will hand us over the baby. We also meet Dr. Soumya Ramesh, the doctor in charge at the clinic who took over after we were here last year, and Goral Gandhi, the woman in charge of the lab. They are both so extremely lovely and it was a real pleasure to finally put faces to the voices that we had been talking to for so long. Steve asked Goral for something very moving. She asked if there's anything more she can do for us while we wait, Steve asked if she would ask the surrogate to write or dictate a blessing for the baby, to send him/her off with. So we'll hopefully have that for the little one, to put in the file.
So we get the paper work, then head out to our favorite restaurant, Little Italy, (a vegetarian Italian place) for pizza. It's pretty easy to eat here for us, as they take vegetarianism religiously, so there are all these Pure Veg places, that even cater to the Jain population that not only doesn't eat meat, but doesn't eat root vegetables either. So even in the vegetarian places, you can order a Jain meal. We've been told that the Jains are very involved in the diamond trade so in Antwerp the chassidim will eat in the Jains' homes. After lunch (driving, by the way, takes us over an hour to get to the clinic, and then 45 minutes to get to lunch, and then an hour to get back to Powai), we go to the hospital, meet Mrs. Mariamma the social worker, and Nisha the woman in charge of PR, patent relations. Tuesday night, we go out for Indian vegetarian food at the local food court and I proceed to dump an entire plate of palak paneer, rice and something curry and red, all down the front of me. Oh, there was a gym visit in there somewhere as well.
Wednesday, we meet up with Michael and Will again and ask them to join us for the day doing a little sightseeing. First stop was the Haji Ali Dargah, a tomb of a sufi saint, that is sort of the Mumbai equivalent of Mont San Michel in France. It's out in the water and inaccessible at high tide. We all trundle out there, Moinideen who is Muslim, makes an offering at the tomb and then we head off to Mani Bhavan, the home of Gandhi. This Steve and I find very moving. I asked about Obama's visit and the guard at the door smiles broadly and proudly pulls out the register with the president and first lady's entry, already laminated.
OK...so this is Greenberg taking over the blogspot for a bit. Goldstein feels queasy and needs to lie down. The Gandhi House was inspiring, but the Prince of Wales Museum (now renamed an almost impossible to pronounce Hindi name) was interesting and moving in other ways. All four of us got headphone guides and listened attentively to the learned descriptions of the sculpture, art, and religious iconography that depicted Hindu, Jain, Christian and Muslim traditions in the country. There were four floors and after an hour plus three of us had reached the fourth floor but Steve (Goldstein that is) was nowhere. Will's phone rings..."where are you guys?" Steve climbs up somewhat breathless and says, "We got to go...our surrogate was just admitted into the hospital!" The aussies were eccstatic, smiling and excited for us. To me it felt like an electric jolt, an existential shiver. Steve and I looked at each other and said..."Oh...my God...its really happening!"
OK...Goldstein's back. I'm rallying. The museum might be named an impossible to pronounce Hindi name but it's the name that everything is called by here--Chatrapati Shivaji, an Indian statesman. There's the aforementioned Chatrapati Shivaji Museum, the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal (old Victoria Station, called CST for short), Chatrapati Shivaji Park. You get the idea. We should have mentioned earlier that Will and Michael, the boys for short, have been nervously awaiting their call, and Will in particular has been bothering Dr. Ramesh so much that she is refusing to take his calls. And when she does, by his retelling, she answers with, "What now, Will." Anyway, I run up, barely get out the news, Will says "Oh, then we must go," and we call the faithful Moinideen who as quickly as he can gets us back up to Powai. We quickly pack an overnight bag, grab the baby's stuff, and run over to the hospital to be finally told by the very commanding Dr. Soni that Mrs. Shameem (that's our surrogate) isn't in labor but will be induced on Thursday. So we head back to the hotel and spend the rest of the evening finalizing the name! We're still working on it.
Today, we packed up at the hotel fully, came to hospital to do the paper work and get checked into a room. The room here is great. Very big, very new, very clean, sort of luxury to be honest, with a very calm and attentive nursing staff, called sisters here. We also ran out to look at an apartment for our after hospital stay. Saw a couple that were just fine, but then decided to look at the Marriot Lakeside Chalet just in case, though it's much more expensive. Big mistake. The Marriot is heavenly. In lush gardens, quiet, good vegetarian restaurants right on premises, plus the ability to cook if we want. Tennis lessons. We're staying there.
It's now 6PM, still no baby. But I'm sending this off as I feel it's going to happen any minute.