Saturday dawned bright and early. We did our rounds and said our goodbyes. It was all a bit surreal, especially driving out of our town on the coach not knowing when we would be back. We arrived at Heathrow at around 5pm and got a shuttle to our hotel. It was nice to have one last comfy night's sleep before the big journey.
We left the hotel at 9.30am and got another shuttle bus to Terminal 4, K was very excited to be in an airport. Once we'd checked the luggage in, we had a last English breakfast (veggie for me) and went to find a quiet spot to wait for our flight to be called. We'd just sat down when we saw our plane pull up
We were among the first to be let on the plane (one of the perks of having a small child when travelling) so had time to get settled. K was very excited at this point and loved being in a window seat - a luxury he didn't have the first time he flew.
The flight set off at around 1.30pm and we said our goodbyes to the UK. I felt a bitter-sweet sadness at this point, the prospect of all that lay ahead of us but leaving what has been my home for most of my life. I kept looking out of the window until the UK disappeared below the clouds.
That first 8 hour flight wasn't too bad, me and C took turns in sitting next to K to keep him amused. The onboard entertainment was pretty sparse, especially for non Hindi speakers, still we didn't fly with Air India for the entertainment but rather the 46 kilo baggage allowance per person (inc K). Eventually K fell asleep to our relief but I tend to find it hard to switch off when travelling, especially having a child to think of so settled down to a film rather than a nap.
We landed in Mumbai at around 3am, and had to wake K and find our luggage as we were then to transfer onto a domestic flight. We thought we were in for a 4 hour wait in the airport but once we'd got through multiple security checks and bag x-rays we only had an hour to go. We got onto a bus which drove us away from the bigger international area of the airport and over to the domestic flights. By this time it was 6.30am and it was already hotting up. We were all pretty tired by this point and I did nap a little while C kept K amused looking out of the window at rural India. I was awoken by the 'fasten seatbelts' noise and saw Chennai spread out in all it's sprawling glory. Pristine skyscrapers next to precariously built tin shacks, a mess of old and new, rich and poor, clean and dirty shimmering below in the morning heat.
We retrieved our luggage and more than a little dazed, walked into Chennai. We had a taxi waiting for us so loaded it up and set off on the final 3 hours of our journey.
That last part of the journey was a bit of a blur, me and K in the backseat were in and out of consciousness. It was really hot and I kept dreaming that we were driving through India only to awake at a particularly loud horn or bump in the road to find it was true. Eventually we arrived at our new home in Auroville at about 1-2pm. That first night's sleep was amazing, we were even awake before K for a change!
I did manage to take a short film of our first moments driving from Chennai airport for those that are interested: Chennai taxi ride.
I'll be back with our first week here soon, things have been very busy so far. We didn't have internet at home until a few days ago and there has been so much to do and arrange that by 9pm most evenings I'm fast asleep. More soon and sending love from India!