7.31.2008

Hello From Chennai!

We're Here, We're Here, We're FINALLY Here!!

We finally made it to India after the long flights and layovers, though this time was the first time that we were not without incident. The flight from Frankfurt to Chennai was relatively uneventful, though quite long and boring. We arrived on time, we managed to make it through customs and immigration, and met our sponsors in the baggage claim area. While they entertained the kidlets, Matt and I were on the hunt for our luggage and the dog. Everything made it here perfectly...... EXCEPT my bag. Nine bags and the dog arrived safe and sound, but somehow, somewhere, my bag did not end up on our luggage cart. Thank goodness I had the foresight to bring my deodorant, an extra tooth brush, toothpaste, and the infamous hair cream with me. Besides the clothes on my back, this is all I had to start out our new journey. What's more upsetting to me is that every new stitch of clothing I had purchased over the summer... every piece of makeup, every new accessory was gone, gone, gone like the wind.

After the luggage carousel was turned off, and we filled out the bevy of paperwork to track down the missing bag, we exited the baggage claim area and made our way to the awaiting van. We piled everything in the car, sat with the kids in our laps (yup, no room for the car seats in this van), and made the 25 minute trek to our new home. Our house is in a centrally located part of town (not that it means anything to me right now), and has 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths, an office, a playroom, a living room / dining room combo, and a kitchen. It also has maids quarters in the back and an attached garage. It's your standard concrete bungalow - complete with new paint and bug spray smell to match!

We brought all the bags in, took a quick tour, located the girls bedrooms, and put them to bed as soon as we could. The next few hours and days were a complete blur. We've been dealing with the 9.5 hour time change from the East Coast, getting used to sleeping under mosquito netting that encloses all of our beds, and the never ending sulfur smell in the water and in the air.

After being here for a whopping 5 days, I can now attest to the fact that the most important decision ever made upon arrival here is hiring a good driver. Many of you will ask why a driver is necessary. Let me tell you... Driving here is something that you have to see for yourself to actually believe. There are NO street signs anywhere, cars share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, auto rickshaws, and even animals. The rules of the road are that there are no rules. The steering wheel is on the right, and driving is on the left, just like in the UK. You don't honk here to let someone know to get out of the way, it's to let them know that you are mere centimeters away from hitting them - so best be careful when changing lanes... if there were any clearly marked. I could go on and on about driving, and will I'm sure in later posts.

We hired Matt's predecessor's driver on the recommendation of a wonderful guy in Matt's office who helped put everything together. He contacted the driver, let him know of our arrival, and worked with him to have our car washed and ready for us to get out on Monday morning. Drivers here are worth their weight in gold. They spend ten hours a day with you, so you better get someone you don't mind chatting with or being around all day long. They will not only take you everywhere you want to go, but they are also akin to personal assistants. They schlep your groceries in and out of the car, they help get the kids in / out of the car, they run your errands. It is a little disconcerting to have someone always at your beck and call... drivers literally just sit and wait for you until you're ready to go. But it's a decent paying job and I've heard how hard it is to find a reliable, trust worthy driver.

I'd like to say that it's been an easy transition, but being without luggage is a very unsettling feeling. I went the first two days in the same clothes. Yesterday I had a girlfriend who I had known from our first post in Oman, take me to a few clothing shops to find a couple pairs of pants and shirts to tide me over. Now I'm taking the time to re-order a majority of the clothes that I had already purchased to replenish my non-existent wardrobe. Just think about how much money you spend on your toiletries alone! Lufthansa has a record of my bag getting loaded onto the flight from Frankfurt to Chennai, so regardless that the agents here in India can't seem to locate it, we're decided to move forward and file a police report tomorrow as if it was stolen, not lost. I just hope that this will move the process along, and I can begin to submit my claims to Lufthansa and our renters insurance policy to get reimbursed for something...

I have so much to say, but tonight is my first real time on internet since we got here. Amazingly we were able to have broadband hooked up in our house this evening, which was a story in and of itself, but I'll have to save that for a future post. I will just say that if you ever wondered how many Indians it takes to hook up your internet... the answer is 7.

I have slowly started reading all the e-mails and comments from my last post. While I would usually send personal e-mails back to everyone, I just can't right now. My inbox is overflowing and with trying to re-order my stuff (which is taking a priority over everything), I'll honestly never get around to it in a timely manner. So to those of you who were so kind to write to me - thank you for your kind words! After the kids start school next week I'll have more of an opportunity to get online.

Signing off from my first post in India. Stay tuned daily, there's lots more to come!

22 comments:

The Mom said...

Great to hear from you and i'm sorry about your bag. How frustrating and upsetting. Sounds like a very comfortable home and a definate experience to see (meaning the roads!). I've only seen a touch of India on the Amazing Race, but I can imagine the chaos, thank goodness for a good driver.

No need to email me back each time, I know you're busy and strapped for time. Look forward to more posts!

Heather said...

Just want to let you know that Chuck and I have been following your prep and trip to Chennai. Glad it went so smoothly, except your luggage. Maybe it will mysteriously appear after you file the report!

- Heather Shannon

mary said...

You are amazing (and, you crack me up)! I'm so glad you made it there safely. I cannot wait to read more!

Simple Answer said...

So glad you are safe! And how great to have a recommended driver. I think I will blow a gasket if I lose a bag - so kudos on holding your chin high. I'll pray it miraculously reappears before you're out of pocket any more.

Mom24 said...

So glad you're there. I can't wait to see pictures...someday! I look forward to hearing more about your new life. I know you know this, but we understand this is your last priority right now. I know you need to make some semblence of order in your life right now. So sorry about your bad. That is really the pits. Hopefully it will turn up, though it seems doubtful. If that doesn't happen, file a very THOROUGH report, so you can get as much money to replace things as you can--although replacing is never the same. Just what you needed to be working on (not). Take care. Look forward to hearing from you when you're able.

Jen said...

Oh it is so good to here from you. I was wondering how it was all going. I missed you and your adventures.
I that is such a drag about your clothes. I wouldn't even know where to begin to repurchase everything. I hope it all goes well and I can't wait to read more.

john, cindy, jack & sadie said...

Hi Jill -- So glad to hear you made it safe and sound. I know you are in a fog with the time change and all that is on your plate. No need to write back personally as you are getting situated. Just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you and sending good karma (the missing bag not withstanding) your way. - Cindy Kent

Mamasphere said...

Your post was fascinating! I can't wait to hear more! But go ahead and get settled already, lol.

Hopefully your bag will magically reappear.

Donna said...

My husband's bag went missing off our flight fo Kazakhstan. His only wardrobe choices for his first few days of work at the Embassy were his travel clothes or his running shorts - can't remember which fine outfit he ultimately selected. And my bag went missing the second time we went through K-stan. In both cases, the bags were eventually located. So I agree w Heather, above - file your police report and hope that speeds recovery. What a pain. Now I mix everyone's stuff up in different suitcases - that way if one goes missing, we all have some clothes left. That little tip is too late for you - maybe I should forward it to Simple Answer before she leaves for Jordan? Well anyway, welcome to your new home. Glad you made it safe and sound,
Donna
emailfromtheembassy.blogspot.com

Suzanne said...

I'm so happy to hear that you've made it there safely but I'm sorry that your bag has gone missing. Hopefully it will turn up, but good for you for not counting on that to happen. It sounds really great to have a driver. Is he there every day, all day? I don't know how I'd feel about that. I'm the kind of person who'd think they had to keep him busy or entertain him all day.

Is it hot there? It's stinking hot here in northern Illinois.

- Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

Kelly said...

I'm so happy to hear you all made it unscathed...sucks about your bag though!
I can not wait to see pictures and hear about your new life in India!

Eve Grey said...

I just find all this so fascinating. I am reading a book right now which takes place in Shanghai, I think in the 50's, and the driving situation sounds equally treacherous and it talks about the importance of getting a good driver. That is a total bummer about your bag. Fingers crossed you'll get it back.

Tenakim said...

Sorry about your bag- great way to start off, huh?

Good luck adjusting and can't wait to hear about all of your adventures!

Hyphen Mama said...

I would LOVE it if you'd post pictures of your neighborhood and town. You know... when you get time. And some clothes. And some rest.

You are one adventurous woman! I'm glad you're all safe and sound in India.

Amy Amy Bo Bamey said...

My Hubby used to travel to India quite often for business so I can totally understand about the driving. They had a driver all the time too and he used to tell us some crazy stories about the streets of India. Like a family of 5 on a moped going down the street and everything coming to a halt so a cow could make it's way.

I hope your missing bag turns up. What a bummer, seems like you are being a trooper about it.

Perez Family Spot said...

YAY!! You're there!! Sorry about the luggage situation. Can't wait to see pics.

Nap Warden said...

My Goodness! I can't even imagine...So sorry about your bag, that is such a bummer! I am looking forward to reading more. Rest and get settled...we'll be here:)

OHmommy said...

Oh man... sorry about your bag. it will show up.

Right?

I have been thinking about you all week long. Keep us posted!!!

Real World Mom said...

Glad you arrived safely! Sorry to hear about your luggage being MIA. What a horrible time for something like that to happen!

Scary Mommy said...

Ugh! What a way to start. Looking forward to hearing better tales & seeing pictures!:)

Andrea said...

Checking in after our vacation and what a time you are having! I have heard from friend here who came to Bonn from being posted in India that a driver is the best thing you will ever do. I can't imagine not doing my own driving and errands though (but I am sure I'd get over that quickly enough :)
I hope your bag will somehow arrive or you can get new things quickly. That does go a long way towards making you feel at 'home'.

Mrs4444 said...

This is so interesting! Thank you for keeping us posted. I hope you've got your luggage by now!

Blog Designed by: NW Designs