Konnichiwa Mumbai ☆Leaping Into A Life As An Expat & A Trailing Spouse in Mumbai, India
Here we go again.
We started our exciting tour in Mumbai. My husband and I along with our 3 little kids arrived at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (that’s a hard one to pronounce…), an international airport in Mumbai, late at night on Thursday.
I will never forget how a new chapter in our life in Mumbai started.
It’s not because I was surprised by a nicer airport in Mumbai than that in Jakarta, Indonesia, our previous assignment.
It’s not because I saw the crazy traffic.
It’s not because this mega-city has a massive area of slums.
It’s not because of the sound of Klaxons that echos in the dark sky of Mumbai.
It’s because I had a huge insect bite which I got during our vacation in the U.S. and had become inflamed and swelled up with red blisters on my right eyelid by the time I landed in Mumbai. I couldn’t even recognize myself with the swollen eyelid. The timing could not be worse. The condition got worse a day before our departure. Since I didn’t think it was an emergency as it was not life threatening, I decided not to try and find a doctor in the U.S. where it is so hard to find a doctor who would see a non-resident and wait until I arrive in Mumbai to see a doctor.
It wasn’t really, but it didn’t dawn on me until I got there that the day after our arrival was a big Muslim holiday weekend called Idul Fitri. Businesses are closed during a three-day weekend. What’s up with my luck…? Great, so I have to live with this growth on my eye for the next 3 days.
The day after our arrival, my girls’ school orientation for the newly arrived families was scheduled and I wanted to hide in a corner with my big fat eyelid. I covered my right eye as much as possible with my bangs.
Oh, the pain of embarrassment!
In order to avoid any awkward stare from the people I tried to mention the insect bite as soon as I saw an opportunity.
Then the first day of school, Monday came. The monumental moment for parents. Our second child started kindergarten. I wasn’t nervous and I was very excited for her to start school. My babies are growing.
It’s our family (or my husband’s) tradition to video tape the kids as he asks questions about the first day of school before they leave to go to school in the morning.
What could be more joy than seeing our own kids grow up?
Why the hell am I so worked up about my stinking swollen eye? My kids are healthy, my husband is healthy, we have a very nice place to live, we’re in one of the most interesting countries in the world, our kids are in school, there is Starbucks (I know, strange standard, but it’s the truth), there is great shopping.
Just forget about the eyelid.
I look like a freak.
I don’t know why I am so stressed about the swollen eye as much as I do, but the sleep deprivation from my 17-month-old son does not help. On top of that he’s teething and having a separation anxiety to the point where I can’t even use a bathroom without him screaming outside the door.
Which brought me to think about the book I finished recently (finally…) which my friend, Cindy Kane, published: “Bad Mommy Moments”. (By the way I plan on writing a review about the book in the future.)
This book came to me at the right moment. The hardship of being a parent, especially a mom, is only understood by those who went through it. Cindy satirically recounts her mommyhood in her book which felt very comforting. It’s okay to admit that mommyhood can suck. Women know. It’s not always the rosy moments with kids.
While I attend my groggy child who is completely jet-lagged and refuse to stay in bed in his room because he’s having a separation anxiety at 12:30 a.m. on Monday night/Tuesday morning, I decided to read a book “Diplomatic Baggage” by Brigid Keenan, which my blogger friend The Diplomatic Wife gave me.
I opened the book. I started reading and shortly after that I encountered this phrase.
Today is my first Monday, the day every wife of a man working abroad most dreads; the day your husband goes to the office and you have to face your new life ALONE.
It was striking to see this phrase tonight because today was my first Monday to see my husband go to the office. I was not alone, though. I was with my 17-month-old son. I’m not sure which is worse. Alone or with a baby in a foreign city. That’s a lot of responsibility.
Being an expat as a trailing spouse is sort of the same as being a new parent in a sense that often times our hardship is not understood unless people went through the same experience as a trailing spouse expat.
An eye problem I had is not typical of an expat life, but often times one of the kids or adults could get sick right around the time to travel overseas and it is one of the challenges that expats face. We tend to take granted our good health, but it is such an important element for our happiness and especially when you have an international move, it affects your mood and attitude. Maybe the GOD (I’m not at all religious by the way) wanted me to give me a different perspective of life and challenge at the beginning so that I can build up endurance for what is about to come in my way in this new adventure.
Thanks to my son, who ran around like a maniac at 3:00 a.m. in our apartment making all sorts of noises (Sorry, neighbors!! Don’t even bother to come to my door to complain because he can’t help it and I certainly don’t know what to do with this wild animal.), I was able to write this post about our safe arrival in an exciting city of India, Mumbai. I don’t have the time to go over the details now. Let me say this, though. It’s charming. I don’t know what it is, but this city attracts me.