We soon left for the airport. Checking in was (thankfully) uneventful, and I made a friend named Gaurav while awaiting my plane (which took off early).
After picking at the most disgusting Indian food I have ever tasted, I conked out for the entirety of my flight to Mumbai. Literally the second I set foot off the plane, there were protocol officers holding a placard reading "Miss Ratna Gill" waiting to greet me. I felt like a celebrity! As they asked me how my flight was and what my bag looked like, I couldn't help but look away and grin. Being so spoiled is amusing!
Gaikwad Auntie had come to receive me, and I met her in the VIP lounge before we headed home.
The Gaikwads' home is phenomenal -- a two-story penthouse with five bedrooms. This is the view from my window:
Living here, one does not feel like she is in one of the world's top 10 centers of commerce! I could have lazed around my enormous room for hours, but Auntie took me out to Shoppers' Stop, where she looked for a birthday present for her brother as I peeped at all the pretty clothes, too tired to try anything on.
We arrived home to another beautiful balconial sight:
Within a few minutes of our arrival, both Ratnakar Uncle (see where I get my name?) and Shivanjali Didi arrived home from work. Before even taking a minute to freshen up, Uncle launched into ideas of meetings and site visits I would enjoy during my time here. I was falling out of my seat with excitement the whole time.
Later in the evening, Auntie, Didi, and I shuffled downstairs to take a peek at the Holi celebration of our building's residents. After I had made some awkward spiritual blunders and taken plenty of photographs, we returned upstairs.
Throughout, Shivanjali regaled me with stories of her experience with meditation, in which the entire Gaikwad family is very engaged. Over dinner, Didi told me a bit about Dharavi, a "five-star slum" I now can't wait to visit. When Uncle joined us at the table, he also dove into the wonders of Vipassana -- I just may have to extend my time in Mumbai to take part in a ten-day silent meditation course. Mom and Dad, I'm not joking.
I am, however, beyond exhausted (as usual). Gee, should I sleep in the king-sized bed against the wall or the day bed next to the window? What have I done to deserve this treatment?!
Happy Women's Day!