With our flight back to Mumbai, Maharashtra, we finished our circle tour of South India and flew back into the arms of friends and family. I called this entry "More Maharashtra" because we visited all the same people and places that we had at the beginning of our trip in November 2006. However, this time we were more relaxed, tanned and full of stories of the South. I was delighted to hear the praises of people who had been following my stories on this site. I often wondered if I was uploading too many pictures, or if my stories were shedding more light on the South than the photos were able to do, but many people assured me that they eagerly awaited each new entry and indeed, looked forward to hearing of our upcoming journey to the Himalayas. How can I not be inspired to write with such encouragement?
The most exciting part of returning to Mumbai was the opportunity to finally meet the newest member of our extended family - little Parth Pabaru. He made his arrival on January 1st, along with the New Year. He's now almost three months old and starting to be more awake during the day, so we were delighted to be able to play with him and find him gooing and gurgling in response to our smiles. His parents Kajal and Deven are handling the transition to parenthood with ease and I marvel at how readily they have adapted. Parth is the most relaxed baby we have ever seen, and Kajal and Deven must take all the credit as they behave as if they have been doing this for years.
After a night in Mumbai, we boarded the train at Dadar Station to travel to Pune again to visit our friend Alaka Kembhavi and her ailing mother, Mrs. Dani. It has now been a full year since Mrs. Dani fell and broke her femur. This started a downward spiral of illness that has seen Alaka spend the better part of the year in India caring for her mother and her father until he passed away last May. Alaka is a fine example of the dedication and love that exists in the Indian extended family system. She has put her life in Canada on hold to do her duty for her parents. Other members of her family and that of her husband's Dilip have pitched in and helped her in so many ways. Family members came to Pune so that Alaka could spend Christmas in Canada with her children and friends. We all have to ask ourselves, would we do the same for our parents in such a situation?
Mumbai - Worli
It was a quick visit in Pune, but we were getting anxious to see Anil's brother and his wife in Patna so we boarded the train back to Mumbai and spend three days with Dr. Raj Kapoor and Kusum for more "R and R". The best part of this quick visit is that they are now inspired to visit us in Canada in July so that we can finally have the chance to be the hosts. Theirs was the first home I visited when we came to India for our marriage in 1974 and now for the first time, we can show them around our hometown. I can't say we can show them our "home" but I know they will enjoy Edmonton, the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and Victoria.
Mumbai - Bandra
We couldn't leave Mumbai without another chance to play with Parth and eat mango ice cream at Juhu Beach, so our last night was spent with the Pabarus. Their apartment is close to the airport, so this made things easier too. After all the running around, we spent Monday lazing around the flat and at one point in the afternoon, all three of us joined Parth in a nap! Deven doesn't get home until after 8:00 pm so we just took our luggage down to the street and hailed a taxi to the airport. The traffic was really light and we were there in no time. We had enough time to go to the Crossword Bookshop and pick up some more reading material. They had a great selection of books and we are voracious readers.