Today we caught the early morning flight from Bangalore. We were not sure if we would make it to the airport in time, due to the bad traffic on the Bangalore roads. But we were lucky, we made it with enough time to sit down and have some coffee in the airport before taking off. Ruchi was very good for most part of the flight. Just before arriving in Vizag she became very restless. She had dirtied her diaper and since the flight was preparing for landing we could not change it. She hates dirty diapers. We tried to divert her attention by singing and playing with her. We were able to calm her for some time. When the flight landed, an english gentleman, who was sitting in front of us, turned to us and said “You guys are amazing parents. I love the way you were trying to entertain her. She is also such a good kid. She was so well behaved till the end and even when she was upset, she calmed down when you guys sang to her. That is really wonderful.” It felt so good hearing a stranger say that. We were worried if people were upset with Ruchi’s fussiness at the end. So this really helped us. Aunty was looking forward to Ruchi’s arrival. They all loved her in the gundu. Aunty made lunch for all of us. Mom and dad had lunch, relaxed for some time and then went home. In the evening we went to do some shopping. We bought Ruchi a cute necklace to match the hair ornament Suja bought for her.
Since we were all exhausted with yesterday’s trip, we decided to relax at home. Praveen and Srinivas went to get a physical checkup in the morning. CM and Shobha came over to Nirmala’s place to see us. We had a good time catching up with what was happening in each of our lives. It took Ruchi some time to get comfortable with them. Later in the evening Srinivas took my mom and dad to the Forum mall. They had a great time and were very impressed by the mall. We spent the afternoon playing with Abhi and Sniggy. Suddenly we had this sinking feel that our vacation was over. Now it was just going back to Vizag, packing and leaving.
Since it was a first trip to Bangalore for Mom and Dad, Srinivas and Nirmala decided to take us to Mysore. We were planning on starting out early in the morning, but by the time we were all ready it was nearly 11 a.m. On the way to Mysore we stopped at a place called Kamat for lunch. It was a nice little restaurant and the food was awesome. I ordered the south Indian thali. It is one of the best thali’s I have ever eaten. In Mysore, Praveen, Nirmala and I got down at the zoo with the kids while Srinivas took mom and dad to the Mysore Palace. I was very impressed by the Mysore zoo. It is very well maintained, and there are a huge variety of animals on display. For the first time I saw a peacock dance today. It is also the first time for me and Praveen to see a white peacock, peahen and a white tiger. The white peacock was so beautiful. The kids enjoyed the zoo very much. Even Ruchi, who was strapped to her dad in her infant carrier, enjoyed the sights. Everyone at the zoo were looking at Ruchi and Praveen. Later in the evening, Srinivas, Mom and Dad joined us at the zoo. Since it was getting late, we decided to skip chamundi hills. We headed out to Brindavan Gardens. It was very dark by the time we reached the gardens, so we could not take good pictures. The garden however was beautiful, but looked a lot smaller than what I remembered it to be (based on what I saw ten years ago). On our way home we again stopped at Kamat for dinner. Since it was a Saturday we had tiffins. Their tiffins were not as impressive as their meals.
Thanks to Nirmala’s Uncle we were able to get the passes for VIP break darshanam. These tickets cost Rs.500 each, but I don’t think they are available for everyone. We went into the temple at around 9 a.m. We were asked to sit till 9:30 in a wait area. I thought that only a few people would be holding these VIP passes, but I was surprised to see atleast fifty people in the room. During our wait, Praveen was holding Ruchi and as luck should have it, Ruchi peed and her diaper leaked and wet Praveen’s pants. Praveen was very upset, I was laughing, because it looked like Praveen had peed, and that made him all the more angry. Since it was supposed to be a short trip, I did not carry and extra pair of pants for Ruchi. So we were able to only change her soiled diaper. She ended up paying respects to the Lord in a shirt and diaper. After the gates opened we were in and out of the gopuram in less than an hour. Mom and dad were impressed by the temple. Later our driver gave us a tour of some more places in Tirupathi and we visited another temple at the foothills, before heading for the airport. The flight to Bangalore was also pleasant. Ruchi enjoyed her trip. At the airport Srinivas’s driver was waiting for us. For an International Airport, Bangalore airport must be one of the worst airports. Their parking is atrocious. Nirmala and Srinivas’s apartment was very beautiful. It was huge for an apartment. It was wonderful seeing Abhi and Sniggy again. Even they were excited to see Ruchi.
In the afternoon, on the way to the airport, we stopped by at my parent’s place to pick them up. Fortunately, Praveen casually asked if mom and dad had their passports with them. Since we were still near the apartment, dad ran up and brought the passports. The flight to Tirupathi was very pleasant. Ruchi was very well behaved. When we reached tirupathi our taxi was waiting for us. The drive up the hill was very good. Once on top, Praveen went into Padmavathi guesthouse information office to confirm our room. Basically Nirmala’s uncle is a Chittoor district judge. So his office had made arrangements for us. The taxi was also arranged by his office. We were given a room at a place called Ramaraja Nilayam. It was a very good place, but it cost us Rs. 3000 for one night. What mattered most was how well the room and the guest house was maintained. In that aspect, I have absolutely no complaints. We had a beautiful view of the hills and the windmill from our room.
Later in the evening we stood in line near our guest house to get Ruchi and Praveen’s head shaved. After some time Ruchi got very restless. We were then told that after 9 p.m. the man would come to our room to shave Ruchi’s head, so went to dinner and later our driver brought the barber to our room and Praveen got his head shaved. I made Ruchi watch her dad, while he got his hair shaved. I did not want her to freak out seeing him. After he was done, it was Ruchi’s turn. from the time the barber placed his hand on her head, Ruchi started howling, but once he was done she started laughing again. She looked so adorable in a tonsure. We thought the barber did a great job, but later we saw that she had minor cuts in many places.
Today Rajani and Satyabama Pinni came over to see Ruchi. Pinni made cake for us. It was very soft and delicious. This is the first time I saw a home made cake, made from scratch, look so spongy. In the evening Praveen came home to pick us up. We went to see Madhu annaiah’s family, Navaneetam annaiah’s family & Praveen’s Peddananagaru’s family. It was quite late by the time we covered these houses so we went home. We have to pack for tomorrow’s big trip.
Since we will not be having enough time to pay visits to all our relatives in Vizag, we decided to get a head start. So today we decided to cover all our relatives on one route. Unfortunately we could not make it to everyone’s house. We only covered a few of my relatives places. First we went to Bujji Uncle’s house. There was no power at their place when we arrived. So we stayed for a couple of minutes and then went to see Kiran & his mom. Kiran wasn’t home from school yet, but we got a chance to say hi to Aunty. This is the first time Ruchi is in a house with no power, at night. She wasn’t scared at all. In fact she was in a very playful mood and seemed to enjoy the dark. Then we went to see Padma aunty’s family, followed by Krishna Chinnanana’s family. By the time we reached Krishna Chinnanana’s place it was quite late, so we decided to call it a day.
Today Srinivas and his family left for Bangalore. I decided to spend a couple of days at mom’s place, i.e. until we left for Tirupathi. Every time we plan an India trip, I always make plans of going out to eat at all the good restaurants in Vizag. But for some reason or the other these plans never materialize. This time Praveen promised to take me to one restaurant a week (Daspalla, Green Park, etc.). Unfortunately we were unable to make it to atleast one restaurant until today. Thankfully Suja was at mom’s place today and Jeeju had to work night shift at the hospital. So we decided it was the right day to go out for dinner. Eshitha was very excited about going out. She loves to eat out. Dad preferred to stay home, so mom came along with us. I was so glad we could make it, because inspite of having so many Indian restaurant’s in US, it is impossible to find the variety of Indian food, that we find in India, and Dimple in Daspalla is definitely one of the best. Any Indain restaurant you go to in US, the menu is exactly the same and the food tastes almost alike. The food was great in Dimple. We had to take turns taking care of Ruchi and Sanvi, but it was all good. We had a great time. I just wish we can do it atleast one more time before we leave. If not I will have to wait for one whole year before I can do it again.
The muhurtham for Abhi’s Aksharabyasam was early in the morning. It was very hectic trying to take care of Ruchi as well as help out. Praveen was very busy, so we had to wait till the last minute to give Ruchi a bath. For some reason she was not in a very good mood. It must have been because of the busy day she had yesterday, and we had to wake her up early in the morning to get her dressed for Abhi’s function. Anyway once she calmed down, it was great. All the kids wore dresses that aunty and uncle had bought for them in Kerala. They all looked so adorable in their semi-traditional dresses. It was a wonderful function and the food Nirmala prepared was very tasty. Srinivas had invited his childhood teachers and uncles who were in the teaching profession to help Abhi write his first words. It was heart-warming to see how much he cared for his childhood teachers. In the evening we went to see Jaya’s new apartment. It was a nice looking apartment. They seem to have taken a lot of pain to furnish it. Later we went to drop of sweets at mom and dad’s place.
At last the day of Ruchi’s Anna Prasanam has arrived. I was worried that Suja might not make it to the function, due to unavailability of leave (It was a holiday weekend in India – Good Friday, Holi & Easter). Thankfully, at the last minute she found someone to substitute for her at the hospital. Everything went as planned. We had lots of fun. There were lots of guests. Ruchi wore her green and white pattu langa. When it was time to start the function, we laid out things that Ruchi was supposed to touch a little distance away from her, hoping, she would try to crawl towards them, but after seeing how uneasy she was with the crowd and the noise, we decided to bring them closer to her. She ended up placing her hands first on books and next on jewelery. This was followed by trying to feed Ruchi the rice porridge that Nirmala prepared. By now Ruchi was quite shaken up with all the commotion. Added to that there was a power failure. So there wasn’t any real feeding that day. The rest of the event went on without any glitches. Lunch was great. After lunch most of the guests left. It was Praveen’s nephew Vishnu’s birthday. So he cut a cake later in the afternoon. The rest of the party was celebrated with kids taking turns to show off their dancing skills. It was so cute.