We awoke mid-morning after a full night’s sleep and began to frantically get ready for the busy day ahead. First on the list were our salon appointments that we were on the verge of being late to, so breakfast was scarfed down in a hurry just moments before we rushed out the door. We scurried down the street, hailed an auto and made our way to the salon. Upon arriving, Moni notified the salon staff that we needed to leave no later than 12:30pm as we had a flight to catch that afternoon. They walked us over to the back corner of the salon and went straight to work on Moni’s hot oil head massage. I was also booked for a hot oil head massage, but because I was also getting a pedicure, they began to set me up for the pedicure first. I’m sure you’re wondering, what the hell is a hot oil head massage? Well, friend, it’s literally the next-best thing to a full-body or foot massage, yet it has lasting, healthy effects on your hair! You can learn more about Indian head massages via this article I located on the Sense Massage Therapy website.
A member of the salon staff had just barely gotten started with my pedicure when my stomach began to feel upset… My stomach was so upset that I frantically told Moni that I was about to barf and he asked the guy who was giving him his head massage where the restroom was. Thankfully, the toilets were literally right behind me so I was able to storm the restroom, just in time for my breakfast to make a reappearance. The little breakfast that I had consumed, anyways. We figured that the cause of this was the malaria medication combined with the heat that we stepped into immediately after I had swallowed that little pill.
Once that mess was over with, I was finally able to relax and enjoy my spa treatments, which were very much needed by this point. After my pedicure was complete, they moved me over into a different chair to begin my hot oil head massage. This was so amazing! I’ve never experienced something like this before and I was completely and utterly relaxed by the time they were finished, although I never wanted it to end! After spending time massaging the coconut oil that I had selected deep into my scalp, they took me over to a salon sink and washed it all out. Lastly, they took me back to the chair to blow-dry and style my hair so that I could continue on with my day. Just for funsies, I am going to disclose how much we spent for both mine and Monish’s hot-oil head massage AND my pedicure with an upgrade… The total cost after tipping the staff was equivalent to about $52 USD! Now, I’ve been told that I’m “not supposed to compare how much I spend in India versus back home”, but as someone who loves saving money, I just can’t help it! I get excited knowing that the cost of one upgraded pedicure in America can get me that plus two amazing hot-oil head massages in India.
Anyways, we had to rush out of the salon and into an auto to head back to Tanvi’s apartment as we had a plane to catch that would take us to Delhi. We made it back to the apartment with minimal time available to ensure that our bags were properly packed – a nightmare for this little anxiety-ridden and on-time-till-I-die woman. Taking an auto to the airport wouldn’t have been practical as we had a big ole suitcase with us plus a 45-minute drive in the midday heat, so we ordered an Uber instead. Traffic was absolutely hectic, just as Tanvi had warned us! And unfortunately for me, the driver this time was much rougher than drivers we’d had previously… (I have PTSD from car accidents – you can hear more about this in my podcast episode, Nightmares & Trauma) Thankfully, we had some motion sickness pills handy, which literally saved the day!
We made it to the bag check-in line in the nick of time as they stopped checking in bags for our flight as soon as we walked away from the counter. Phew! Crisis averted. Monish was very strategic (and thoughtful!) as he waited to tell me that we almost missed checking in our bag until after we got it checked in. He’s a smart, thoughtful cookie and wanted to avoid adding excess anxiety to my nearly-full plate.
The flight to Delhi was about 2 hours long and when we landed, we actually exited the plane on the apron, an area where they unload planes outside of the terminal. To simply, this means that we walked off of the plane via a ramp which was no where near the actual airport. Then, we were packed onto buses (it took 2-3 buses total) and driven to the airport terminal to collect our bags and continue on our way. I’d never experienced anything like this before, so I thought it was so cool! Monish, on the other hand, was used to it and kind of annoyed by the experience as he’s been spoiled with terminal exits in America. (Haha)
We made it to the baggage claim area and located our suitcase. Before exiting to find Hema & Maulesh (Monish’s parents who I will refer to as Mom & Dad from here on out), I headed to the restroom. Here, in the Delhi airport, I quickly learned to not wait my turn for an open stall, but to instead just take my turn whenever the opportunity arose. Standing in an orderly line and waiting your turn isn’t really “a thing” in India, so if you don’t just go for an open stall when you can, you’ll likely end up peeing yourself while standing around as everyone continues to jump in front of you and take the open stalls. I’m quite serious about this. If you don’t believe me, try standing in line for a toilet at an airport in India then get back to me with how it worked out for you.
After exiting the airport, we met Mom, Dad and the driver of our car outside the terminal and began to make our way to the hotel. When Moni told me that we’d be renting a car in Delhi, I assumed that Dad would drive us. I didn’t realize that renting a car meant we’d also have a driver! Moni told me, “We don’t drive in India. We have someone do that for us!” This is when I really began to understand how posh the Indian lifestyle truly is…
Meeting Mom & Dad (Hema & Maulesh) for the first time was such an emotional moment for me and I did my best to hold back my happy tears. I’d spent a little over 2 years getting to know these loving, parental figures via WhatsApp video calls, chats and Facebook, but hadn’t been able to see them in person and give them a hug due to travel restrictions because of COVID-19. These two individuals have been beyond supportive not only of mine and Monish’s relationship, but also of all of my personal endeavors, which is something that I’ve lacked as my own parents have never been supportive of me. So with that being said, it was definitely a surreal and emotional moment getting to hug Mom & Dad for the very first time.
We hopped into the car and made our way to the 5-star hotel that we were staying in so that we could drop off our bags and quickly freshen up for dinner. Tanvi suggested that we eat at The Big Chill as it was a popular restaurant with lots of menu options and really cool decor. This restaurant was old-time-film themed with movie posters from decades past all over the walls. Even the menu had old movie posters plastered throughout it! The food was Italian and Moni joked, “see, we are feeding you more than just Indian food while you’re here!” We decided to eat family-style so that we could sample a few pastas and desserts together without over-ordering. I love getting to do things like this!
While we were sharing our meal, I had Mom explain to me the details of the upcoming wedding itinerary as I had no idea what to expect as this would be the very first Indian wedding that I would attend. (Side note for context: Monish’s cousin, Hetvi, was set to get married the following week in Monish’s hometown of Vadodara, Gujarat, India – more to come about this in future blog posts.) We all shared so much laughter and many, many smiles throughout our first meal together. It’s one that I will never forget! After dinner, we went straight back to the hotel and Mom chose to go up to bed while Moni, Dad and I went for a walk around the block to allow our stomachs to settle before heading to bed. That night, I fell asleep with both my tummy and my heart immensely full.
Ready for more? Sign up to receive the next part of my journey directly in your inbox! Not only will you be the first to know when the next pieces of the story are released, but you also have the option to receive travel tips, packing tips and all of the wonderful knowledge that I’ve required about visiting India! Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this FREE information.
Be sure to check the next day of this adventure – India Trip: Day 3 – Exploring New Delhi! You can also check out more tales of my first trip to India and live vicariously through me via the articles below. Enjoy, friend!