We had to head India for my sister’s wedding in December and along with ear piercing for Ava and her first head shave function. The trip started with 4:00 AM EST ride to JFK airport for a flight with Emirates. Although the flight from NYC to Dubai was very unpleasant without a Bassinet seats, the latter part of the trip was enjoyable. We had booked Emirates due to its rave reviews from our friends; we took an extra mile to travel from JFK instead of Philadelphia Airport. We were confirmed multiple times out phone on the Bassinet seats over the phone but it was otherwise as we boarded the flight. The Emirates onboard flight manager was rude and unhelpful. Holding Ava in our hands on a 16-hour journey was extremely painful but Ava was still a delight. The experience at the Dubai airport not memorable either. We were taken on a crowded bus to our next flight for almost 30 min and poor Ava was in tears all along.
Everything changed as we got into the Emirates Dubai to Mumbai flight. Ava had a peaceful 3-hour long awaited sleep and we had ours as well. The hostess loved Ava and constantly greeted us all along and even took instant photos with her after her nap. The people and hospitality in Amchi Mumbai are on par with Japanese. There was a huge line of almost 500 people ahead of us in Mumbai Immigration but pretty much all of them allowed us to get ahead of them. We did not have to stand in the line for most then 5 minutes (both for us or Ava); the immigration and customs were very quick.
The next flight from Chennai to Mumbai was with Jet Airways at 3:00 AM IST. So we decided to stay at the Niranta Airport transit 9hotel. We had our light dinner at the hotel restaurant and all three us of slept like a log till 1:00 AM IST. And quickly packed all of Ava’s belongs and we finally reached Chennai Raintree Hotel at 6:30 AM IST, after almost 40 long hours. A lesson well learned is to stick to flights from Philadelphia via Europe (British Airways or Lufthansa)
We were in Chennai for almost 4 days for our visa stamping before heading to my in-laws in Madurai. Our stay was at the Raintree hotel, Anna Salai due to its proximity to US Bio-metrics and US consulate. We had plans to shop at T-Nagar, a walk at the Mahabalipuram and Dhakshina Chitra but unfortunately after all our visa related appointments, we managed to wake up only at 8:00 PM IST. The only thing we could do at our Chennai trip was experiencing flavors of South Indian foods at the Raintree restaurants. It was a cautious decision not to try local restaurants with Ava being just 10 months. The wonderful buffet breakfast at their ‘Kitchen’ (includes Indian and Continental), South Indian food at their ‘Madras’ and the Punjabi at their ‘Up North’ – all of them were exceptional. I am still drooling while writing about the cuisine we had in here. The room we stayed was also extremely clean for Ava and all the staffs were very friendly and polite. We absolutely enjoyed our stay at this hotel. Well, the perk of jet lag is waking up early. Taking advantage of early rising, we got a chance to capture the beautiful Chennai sunrise at their rooftop ‘High’ restaurant/Swimming pool. I highly recommend this hotel, if you are looking for a refreshing stay in Chennai.
Visa process in India generally takes a long time with a huge queue outside the Chennai consulate; I was worried to hold Ava in Chennai roads. Fortunately, we were taken very quickly inside and we did not stand in any line inside the consulate as well. The consulate was very friendly to the family with accompanying infants. The entire process from outside to the visa approval took less than 15 minutes.
I hope the photos justify the experiences we had in Chennai, the Raintree.
Also published on Medium.