KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
It’s really too bad that we had to cut our trip short because of the COVID-19 outbreak. We had booked our Aeroplan reward plane tickets almost a year earlier, so we had been thinking about the trip for a long time and were looking forward to all the extended family getting together in Delhi. We then took the opportunity to add on a tour of the western part of the state of Gujarat. We’d also invited my sister Donna and her husband to join us, and when they eagerly accepted, we decided we’d like to take them around Rajasthan as well.
As if that wasn’t enough, knowing that they like mountains, hiking and rock climbing, we kept the option open to spend an additional two weeks in Nepal. We wouldn’t be doing anything particularly strenuous ourselves, but it was a chance to see more of the country than we’d seen when we visited a few years earlier. We’d spent a week in Kathmandu before flying home to Canada for Christmas.
And greedy Vicki, I suggested that since we were so far from home, we should think about extending our trip for a few more weeks and head to the Mediterranean and soak up some sun rather than go back to Canada and sit through a rainy spring season.
It really made sense to cut our plans and return home to safety – even if that meant we’d be looking out our windows at the rain falling (and the cherry blossoms, the daffodils, and the hyacinths, and the…well you get the idea) and staying safe in isolation, doing our best to avoid being in contact with anyone who is contagious.
Donna and Duncan were real sports about us changing our plans and encouraging them to carry on to Udaipur and Jaipur. In the end, after watching more news reports, they too chose to head home, and were back in Canada four days after we arrived.
We flew back to Delhi on March 9th and Anil’s brother met us at the airport in the early evening. After dinner we spent the time before bed in packing our suitcases and organizing them in order not to have any contraband in our hand luggage. We had left a substantial number of items at Ajay’s while we were touring Gujarat and Rajasthan so it took some time to straighten things up.
Both Adia and I had brought along older suitcases along with us, thinking to get them repaired in India, but Adia’s lost a wheel and mine split all along the handle, both started out relatively okay, but had given up the ghost on the long journey to India. We’d left a suitcase to be repaired the last time we were in India, so we gave that one to Adia and then had to go out and buy one.
Ajay took us to a nearby shopping mall that had three businesses selling suitcases. We weren’t thrilled with any they had on hand, but in the end settled for a very large one, thinking that sometimes Adia wants a big suitcase, and ours are always too small to suit her. I picked the purple one, and quickly nicknamed it the ‘Purple People Eater’. It’s a name of a monster in a song we used to sing when we were children.
Not much more to say about our last day in Delhi, but we just rested in the afternoon because our flight was leaving a 1:15am; we had to be at the airport well before midnight. We checked the news later that evening and weren’t really surprised to learn that the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. It was March 11th, a day we’ll long remember.
Ajay dropped us off at the airport, and we found it more than a little difficult to say goodbye. His dear wife Neeta had died suddenly the previous October and he was still trying to adapt to life on his own. He had help running the house and preparing food by keeping the two women whom Neeta had hired and trained. However, if India eventually decided to lock-down the population in their homes, like many countries were doing to try and stop the spread of the virus, he would be entirely on his own, without being able to have the hired help come into his building to work for him.
We’d spoken to Ajay about the possibility of making a third trip to Canada to visit us in Victoria, but now that COVID-19 was spreading around the world, it would most likely be a very long time before people would be as free to travel like they had in the past. Ajay wasn’t going to be able to visit us; we wouldn’t be able to visit India either. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time we are able to visit our extended family in India.