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A Baby in a Backpack to Bhutan by Bunty Avieson

By Bunty Avieson

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By the time I get Kathryn, all our luggage and paperwork to the correct counter, we are allocated the last remaining seat – the front right-hand side, wedged into the curve of the plane, my knees, nose and baby pressed hard against the wall dividing us from the half-dozen business class passengers. Fortunately, Kathryn just sleeps. It has something to do with the vibration of the engines. As soon as we take off, her little head bobs a few times and she’s out. I give up any idea of struggling past everybody for a visit to the loo, or even crossing my legs, and settle in to think about something else for the five-hour flight.

I need to strengthen my kidneys in preparation for the birth. Very important. During the birth she says to avoid cold or iced drinks but sip tea or water at room temperature or above. Drinking cold things gives the baby a shock, which will cause it to retract and slow things down, she explains, demonstrating by wrapping her arms around herself and shivering. After the birth she recommends lying in bed on my side to 21 A BABY IN A BACKPACK TO BHUTAN allow the bones to contract naturally, and to avoid all exercise.

One night someone dug up all the copper wiring and stole it to resell on the black market. After three agonising months, with letters in the newspapers complaining about businesses going broke, the copper has been replaced but still the telephones don’t work. It takes a series of bribes to the linesmen in each area to get the telephones ‘reconnected’. At every level of management they are breathtakingly obvious about seeking bribes to do the jobs they are paid to do. Delhi is so overcrowded and under-resourced that there is not enough electricity to go around.

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