Archive for April, 2007

Delayed Return to Our Other Home

I hate changing international travel plans.  Last year, Mark and I missed the culminating event of the Friends Without Borders program at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan because our flight out of India was a couple of days before the event.  Despite Mark’s entreaties to stay for the event, I refused.  If we gave up our arbitrary return date, there would be a never ending list of reasons to extend our stay.  So, we crammed as many meetings in as possible, racing from place to place in Lahore, skipping meals (much to the dismay of our hungry host and partner), and managed to squeeze our bodies through both the Pakistani and Indian immigration gates at Wagah border as guards closed the door behind us.   Then a mad series of flights from Amritsar to Delhi, Delhi to Chennai, taxi to Pondicherry, a day and a half of packing and closing up our affairs in Pondicherry, then back to Chennai for our flight to San Francisoco.  Last year, we spent all of three weeks, combined (two days here, three days there…) at “home” in Pondicherry.

This year has not been much different.  Our friends in Pondicherry roll their eyes and laugh when they hear Mark telling people that we spend “six months in Pondicherry and six months in the U.S.”  Even so, they treat us as family – coming to see us off every time we leave Pondicherry – for Madurai, Bangalore, Pune, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad…

But this year, we have been compelled to change our return flight to our “other” home in San Francisco (sorry, I can’t quite bring myself to say “Oakland”).  The exact words from one of our Friends Without Borders project partners were:  “You cannot leave!”

So, the day after we had booked our tickets from San Franciso to Paris on May 14, assuming that we would be home on May 1, we were lucky enough to be able to void the non-refundable, uncancelable tickets and embark on a crazy search for flights that would allow us to be in Europe in mid-May yet get us back in time to make our flights to San Francisco at the end of May, before our return ticket expired.

Mark and I were smart enough to pay a little bit extra for our discount tickets to India so that we could change our return dates (once), but not smart enough to ask for one-year validity.  Who knew that we would be spending most of this year in India? Since we flew out of San Francisco on 28 November 2006 we have to complete our return travel on 28 May 2007.  The best we could do in terms of travel to Paris in mid-May was to fly out of Bangalore on the 14th, and return to Bombay on the 25th.  In between, we have to be in Bombay (where we are currently), Delhi, Pakistan (Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, if we ever get our visas), Pondicherry (to pack for our return to the U.S.) and Bangalore.

To family and friends who are counting the days – sorry!

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