By: Kerrie Olejarz
The next morning we awoke to beautiful sunshine and…wedding preparations. We went down to the café on the main floor for breakfast only to find the patio and pool area abuzz with workers setting up for a wedding. There were hundreds of fresh flower garlands in intense colors of orange and white. The workers made it look easy, winding the hand-strung flowers around the front stage; it was pure art. We really enjoyed watching it as we ate our omelettes and drank our coffee.
Because our meeting at the doctors’ office was later in the day, we decided to go for a long walk around Juhu with a mission to buy a bottle of Indian whisky to bring home as a gift. We headed out of the hotel area down a long dusty road, which was under construction. Many dogs lay in the streets and rarely moved when a motorcycle or car honked. This was their life, sleeping in the dusty streets of India. The construction workers were mostly barefoot or in sandals and used a pick to break up the road. There was no heavy machinery to do the work, just men and women, all manual labor. The people of Juhu were extremely friendly to us as we walked by, giving us waves and hellos. We found a liquor store and spoke with the shopkeeper about which bottle to buy. We decided on a very strong 120-proof liter of whisky and paid our 300 rupees (about six Canadian dollars).
We were in a small community at this point and it felt alive, but the maimed people lying in the streets reminded us where we were. The tiniest Indian girl with a very dirty newborn baby came up to me and starting speaking English. Here name was Rajashree and she obviously wanted money. My heart broke as I spoke to her with this tiny baby swaddled in the most beautiful Indian cloth. She never asked me for a cent and was very curious about me and what I was doing. Mark was giving me the “let’s go” signal so I tried very hard to get away from her. She walked with me for a bit and eventually wished me well and headed back to the little community. She was constantly trying to touch my face and hands, and I told her I had a cold and did not want her to get sick. I lied. She was filthy and I was not crazy about being touched by her. We had not vaccinated for either of the two trips, because we can be smart travelers, so I wasn’t about to let my emotions get in the way of my health.
We continued strolling and entered the more trendy, posh area of Juhu, where no one batted an eye at us. We checked out a few stores and then the heat started to get to me so we headed back to the hotel. On the way back I videoed the sights and sounds. You can only capture India properly with video. The chaos and constant horn honking is never captured in still pictures. As we approached the hotel the wedding party was starting to arrive. The men all adorned in traditional wedding gear were a real treat for the eyes. We spent a few hours at the pool watching the continued wedding preparations and ordering poolside food and beers.
Later in the afternoon we hooked up with our driver and headed to the doctors’ office. We were anxious to get this process started and excited to see our new surrogate again and meet her husband. Once we arrived at the doctors’ office we went into a private room where the lawyer sat across from our surrogate and her husband. Our surrogate was all smiles and comfort, while her husband looked shy and nervous. We went through every page of the contract, signing and initialing where needed. In between pages we chatted with our surrogate (with the translation help of the lawyer). What can you say to this woman? We thanked her; we asked her if she was nervous or excited; we wished her much success and we thanked her more and more and also thanked her husband. At the end of the meeting I gave her a quick hug and we all parted ways, for now. The doctors were very busy as usual and when we entered the main office there was a baby all snuggled in a western-style carrier. This was one of two that were born a week or so ago. I joked with the doctors about this being our parting gift.
The drive back was typical and because we were staying in Juhu, the distance made it a very long hour and a half drive. Mark and I downloaded our thoughts to each other, and agreed that we were super excited to get started. The plan was to do our embryo transfer as soon as possible. Our surrogate would start her treatment in the next few days and we would soon be on our two-week wait! We were giddy in the car and enjoyed the moment. Mark, in typical fashion, snapped pictures and video during the drive. I continued to wave at the Indian men who stared at me, and always said hello. It had become fun for me to catch them off guard. One boy on a bicycle beside my car window thoroughly enjoyed the fact that I spoke to him; he was all smiles. The honking continued all the way back, the rickshaws booted in and out of traffic, and the dogs continued to lie in the streets. It was getting close to dinnertime and the people of Mumbai were out and about, walking home from work, shopping and dining. When we finally arrived at our hotel we had a call from Amit with an invitation to join him and his wife for dinner. They chose a place (just around the corner from our hotel) which serves up Indian barbeque on the rooftop. We were really looking forward to this evening — spending time with friends and eating great food. We filled the next few hours with cleaning ourselves up and updating our blog.
Shortly after 8:00, Amit gathered us and we walked over to meet his wife for dinner. We had one day left in Mumbai and this was indeed one of the highlights of this trip. Amit’s wife was as lovely as he is. We spent the evening drinking wine and beer, eating amazing Indian style bbq over an individual fire pit, and having great conversation. It was just a great night with friends. These are the things we appreciate most in life. Good times with friends make for great memories. The day ended late in the evening and we were gifted a beautiful bottle of champagne from Amit’s wife as a memento of our evening…and a promise to drink this in celebration of a pregnancy!