Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sights and Sounds of Mumbai!

It’s been exactly 24 hours now, and what a whirlwind! I am staying here in Mumbai with my dear friend Yasmin, who is a fantastic personal trainer and Pilates instructor here. Yasmin stayed with us two years ago in Irvine while she was completing her Pilates certification and has been begging me to come to India ever since.

My initial impressive of the airport was positive- immigration was quick and our bags came out faster than LAX. However it was weird looking around at all the Indian faces and feeling so personally different from all of them. I actually related more to the few white women! It’s amazing to me that’s it’s taken me 35 years to get here.

Yasmin’s family all have drivers and immediately after getting in the car (with no seatbelts!) I realized this whole car riding thing was going to have to be a leap of faith. The driving is crazy (and apparently better than Dehli or Kolkata) and there are bikes, pedestrians, and “autorickshaws” to avoid. I’ve decided that looking out the side window and not paying attention to the chaos ahead is the best strategy for me. The drivers seem to know what they are doing.

Yasmin’s apartment is close to the sea with beautiful views and comfortable accommodations. I've littered this post with pics. After a decent night’s sleep I woke up to her cook Ramu making me breakfast (they won’t even let me clear the plates!) and headed over to her gym. Her personal training/ Pilates studio is filled with people avoiding each other everywhere- a common theme I’m discovering in India. Too many people!

In the afternoon we met her friend Simrin from Hong Kong who took me to a few stores for shopping. It was overwhelming! I picked up a few things and got my feet wet in the shopping experience. I am struggling a bit with the currency conversion (47 rupees to 1 dollar). I have to remind myself that a 500r note is only $10!

Later Simrin left me to my own devices with the driver who took me to get my waxing and nails done (everything under $15!). I must admit I was a little nervous to be out in the open, feeling so “American”. Though in time I think these feelings will calm down. There is poverty, dirt, stray dogs, goats and people everywhere. It’s surreal as I feel like I’m in National Geographic.

In the evening we went to downtown Mumbai to Yasmin’s family to celebrate “Eid” which is the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. I got to witness a traditional “thal” dinner where everyone eats off one plate. I’m noticing that people aren’t quite as polite as we are in America, but there is still plenty of warmth from everyone. I find myself saying “please” and “sorry” and “thank you” way more than anyone else. And my accent sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s definitely a cultural adjustment.

Now I’m snuggling back into my room and I look forward to a new day. I’m glad to have the first 24 hour jitters behind me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Zeena Has Landed....

So Zeena's Mom and I saw off Zeena and her Dad on Sunday afternoon at LAX. They got their flight on time and landed in London at about 2AM our time.
I got my very early morning text along with some requests for tech support to help her figure out some cell phone settings for their phones. FYI, we got our cell phone SIM cards unlocked so we can use local carriers for less cost, we'll let you know how that works out in future posts.

So now I just got word that Zeena and her Dad have landed in Mumbai and they're on their way to get some rest since it's about 1 AM in the morning local time for them. Everyone is doing ok and looks like phone, email, and blackberry messenger are working well (just a little slower than normal which is to be expected when you're 8000 miles apart!).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

FINAL Date Night

We've been contemplating recently how wonderful the timing has working out for this trip: better weather in India, end of Ramadan, just in time for the Holidays etc etc. Except for one thing: the ANGELS playoffs!

The night before my (Zeena) flight to India, we decided to rush through the last minute packing and head off to one of the final home games of the season and our LAST date night before parenthood.

Normally we have great (nosebleed) season ticket seats, but this time we visited the scalper who calls himself Anaheim BOB. He told us about a set of tickets he had DIRECTLY behind home plate. In an attempt to negotiate an even lower price, I told him it was our last date night before adopting a baby. It didn't quite work but we did go ahead and spring a little more $ for the idea of seeing our team up close.

It was AMAZING! Despite the loss, we were able to see every player at bat and watch the pitches and agree (or vehemently disagree) with the ump's calls. Due to the impending playoff game this week, Mike Scioscia played a lot of players so we got to enjoy the entire lineup. We even got to see KROD's crazy windup!

The icing on the cake was when Anaheim Bob called us to make sure we enjoyed the seats. In an effort to congratulate us, he said "Happy Adopting!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's in a NAME?

A few people have asked about the name of our daughter. I (Zeena) thought I'd quickly post an entry.

The children are given names at the Orphanage and ours was "Pratima" which is sanskrit for "Image, Idol". Most adoptive parents rename their children once they are brought home.

Obviously we have decided to name ours "Zaleeya" which is an arabic name meaning "Strong, Knowledgeable". We changed the spelling a bit to make it easy to pronounce. Also because both of our names are usually spelled with an "I" instead of two "E's". Our parents were obviously on the same page by adding the "E's" and we decided to pass this tradition along.

We love it and we hope you do too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are you sooooo excited?

Zeena, here. You may be surprised to find out that it's been AZEEM who has been posting so far!

So everyone is saying, "You must be soooooo excited!". Is it ok to actually admit that I'm not "sooooo excited"? Well sure, a little bit. But honestly I'm more scared, nervous, anxious, overwhelmed and stressed out than anything else.

We are first time parents, and well this is not the "normal" way to do things. On top of the weirdness of the whole process, comes this feeling that my life will NEVER be the same the moment I step on that plane. And really, I have liked my life!

How will I feel when I get handed that bright eyed little girl? Won't her first moments with us be of fear and terror? How will she feel being taken out of her home? And how will we cope with suddenly become parents in one quick cab ride? How does one go from supremely independent to suddenly being responsible for another human being?

Those are the bigger questions. But even the small ones get me: how do you mix formula? How much should I spend on socks? What is a cereal bottle? How do I steralize a nipple? Oh my.

I know it will all work out. I have faith in us and in this process. But this is the beauty of a BLOG- a chance to let it all hang out.

Surprise!! New Pictures!!

So we just a got a surprise email today. A parent who has adopted two children from ISRC(Zaleeya's Orphanage) happened to be in India a few weeks ago and stopped there to take pictures of the children. He said they were all napping when he got there, so hence the sleepy eyes. Some of the other pictures included her in a playpen with other babies which was really cute to see, but we've left them off the blog to respect the privacy of the other children and their families. So far, everything is progressing on schedule, and hopefully it will continue to do so. Zeena leaves for Mumbai (formally known as Bombay) this Sunday. She and her Dad will be staying there for about 2 weeks. Azeem is scheduled to fly out and meet them on October 13th, however his departure is contingent on the paperwork process moving on schedule. This is the tentative schedule right now, anything can change at the last minute, and we've learned that you have to expect last minute changes, it's just part of the process.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ouch that hurt!

So reality is starting set in a bit. I guess we experienced our first pain as parents, we had to get our vaccine shots to travel to India. Ouch!! India travel requires immunizations for tetanus (recommended for everyone every 5-10 years anyways), Hepatitis A and B (recommended that you at least get A, and typhoid. We had ours done at the county health center the cost was about $115 each, since we have a PPO this was a cheaper option. It was actually quite an easy and efficient process, I was impressed with our county public health services as a first time user. Who says government provided health care can't work. (no more political statements for the rest of the post, I promise) In addition to the vaccines, you need to take malaria pills. It might be important for you to find out if your insurance covers this medication. Turns out that ours did not, which was a surprise because we have a great plan in many other respects. The retail cost of malaria pills is $20 per pill! We have to take 10 pills each for a 3-4 week trip to India. Luckily the pharmacist at CVS was able to provide me with a discount and we only paid $5.80 per pill. But a normal Co-Pay would have been $20-$40total, so check into your insurance coverage. The cycle is one pill the week before travel and a pill every week while on travel then, 4 more after returning home. Oh yeah, the side effects include auditory hallucinations and night mares. The pharmacist said with a plain face "If you suspect psychosis then you should probably see a doctor. But the alternative, which is contracting malaria, is much worse". We'll be sure to take our pills and hope for sweet dreams!

Friday, September 19, 2008


We were lucky enough to receive two sets of video of Zaleeya over the last 9 months. One was taken about 6 months ago by a visiting family the second was taken by Charles Lee who is the husband of Hedy Lee - the director of the Dillon International's Orange County Office (our Agency). A very kind friend of ours put a video montage of all the pictures and video and set it to some really great music. We played the video at the shower and there many tears of joy shed. It was great moment that we will never forget.

The video is available online at - http://www.azdhalla.com/zaleeya/video/ - please be sure to wait a few minutes before hitting play so the video can download. It's about 8 minutes long and worth every minute!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pictures of Zaleeya

After all these posts I bet you're wondering, well who is this little girl that everyone is making such a fuss over? What is she like? What does she look like? Well, welcome to our world. We've gone for the last 9 months on pictures provided to us by other families picking up their children from the orphanage. So, we never really knew how often we would get new pictures. So here are a few of the pictures we received over the last 9 months.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Information for our readers

So this blog is designed for our friends and family to keep track of our journey to India. It's also designed to help current and future adoptive families prepare for their journey to India to pick up their children. So from time to time you will see informational blogs about the process and hopefully tips and tricks to help future families navigate their way. Mostly though, this will be about our experience. So to help you keep up to date on our blog and enjoy your experience here are a couple of tips:

1. Subscribe to the RSS feed at the bottom of the blog - this will allow you to get instant updates when a blog entry is posted. It will also help to remind you to check in on the blog every once and a while. Once you subscribe your internet explorer page will have an orange square icon (on your tool bar) light up when there are new blog entries. We plan on only updating through the blog, so please do not expect mass emails to our friends while we are in India. If you need help with how to do this please let me know in the comment section and I'll walk you through it.

2. Both Zeena and Azeem have Facebook accounts. This will be another way to check in our progress and if possible we will be updating information there when we can, but keep in mind we probably won't have much time to play scrabble etc.

3. Please comment, we want to know if there is a question that you have or want to cheer us on. We couldn't have gotten this far with out you, and we definately will need your well wishes while we are 8,000 miles away from home.

4. Tell your friends! We are looking forward to sharing this experience and we hope that someone out there we never met learns something new or is inspired to do even more.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The baby shower

So our wonderful friends and family threw us a baby shower. Ours was much more of an afternoon adult party than a shower. We enjoyed everyones company today and we were so happy to share our special day for Zaleeya with our closest friends and family. Our special thanks goes to Thom and Kim Meyer for hosting the party at their house. Our friends Heather and Adam Sblendorio, Cathy and Scott Neslon, Joanne and Daniel Jordan, and Melanie and Saleem Dhalla also help put together a great party, with great food and great energy to send us off to our journey. We are very lucky to have great friends and family like all of you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ziggy is no longer in charge....

So, here is Ziggy Marley Buster Dhalla, our first addition to the Dhalla household. We are pretty sure he knows that his life is about to change as drastically as ours. This room used to be his place to hide all sorts of knick knacks. I'm sure he's working on a plan for a new hiding spot. In the meantime he's making every effort to hold on to his territory....

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Thanks for visiting our story. We've been inspired by the several families who have chosen to share their adoption stories over the last two years, so now it's our turn to return the favor. We hope that our friends and family can enjoy the journey along with us as we travel to Kolkata, India to pick up our daughter. It's been a long road to this point. As some of you may know we were originally matched with a baby boy last year, unfortunately it did not work out and it was a major setback for us. Fast forward a year, and now we are looking forward to bringing our daughter home. We've been in an emotional "holding pattern" for the good part of this year, but now we are ready to let go a little, allow ourselves to be "excited" and come to the terms that we will be new parents, very soon.

We have so many people to thank for their support over the last 2-3 years. Our families, specifically, our Parents have been such pillars of support and comfort for us. Sharing in our challenges and celebrating in our successes, they've been there by our sides the whole time, learning about the process and containing their excitement for their future grand daughter. Our friends have been wonderful and supportive as well, and we can't wait for them to meet our daughter. Lastly, we'd like to personally thank Hedy Lee and Tami Davidson from Dillon International, our adoption agency. Hedy and her husband Charles have been inspirations from the beginning, they truly enjoy helping children from all over the world find loving families. Thank you for making us feel like your family throughout this process.

So here is our story.........enjoy!