I write this post from the apartment we are subletting in Tel Aviv. Last Wednesday, Alon and I traveled from New York to Istanbul to meet Neil, who had already been there more than a week conducting fieldwork. Alon handled the flight like a pro. Following a minor [tiredness-induced] meltdown before takeoff [probably due to the fact that we were stuck in the airplane for nearly 2 hours before taking off], he slept through much of the flight and voiced no complaints about the very uncomfortable-looking bassinet provided for him. In fact, Alon slept more than I did – despite the fact that we were in premium economy, with larger seats, more recline and footrests, I couldn’t really get comfortable. Oh well.
Anyway, for an international flight on my own with a baby, I would say that this flight was a success. We made it to Istanbul relatively smoothly. And there the fun began.
A colleague of Neil’s Turkish colleague picked us up at the airport and brought us to the university, where Neil was giving a lecture. We walked into the lecture hall just as Neil was finishing the Q&A section of his talk and were waved down to join him on the podium. All attention immediately shifted to Alon. Soon, several students joined us on the podium – not because they wanted to speak with Neil, but because they wanted to hang out with the boy:
The admirers extended far beyond the university setting. It was really amazing – you would think that babies don’t exist in Istanbul. Everywhere we went, people spoke to, touched, hugged, and smiled at Alon. Including the waiter at the restaurant we went to the next day:
And the benefits we received as a result! While online at the airport, we were waived ahead of several others because of the baby. On the subway and the bus, we were offered seats because of Alon. Everywhere it seemed that having a baby was a huge asset. We’ll have to keep that in mind in our future travels…
In any case, Alon handled his admirers with aplomb and was a real trooper on Friday when we spent nearly all day walking around the city. Maybe it was exhaustion from dealing with admiring fans, or maybe it was jet-lag, but Alon also had no problem napping on the go:
We had a couple of interesting – and rather awkward – moments when Alon got hungry or needed a diaper change, but everything worked out alright, thanks to the nursing shawl:
All in all, it was quite a day – tiring enough that we decided to skip the sight-seeing on Saturday and just rest before our flight to Israel. Which was also relatively uneventful, except for the woman who a] only very reluctantly gave up her seat so that Neil and I could sit together with Alon, and b] asked me Alon’s age and then exclaimed, “He’s still only breastfeeding??!?” Welcome to Israel/Israelis, I guess.
Anyway, we arrived in Israel Saturday night and have been settling in. Neil and I are currently working in the apartment while Alon naps. Perhaps it’s still the jet lag, but in the past few days his naps have lasted no less than 2-3 hours. Pretty unbelievable for a boy who slept 30-40 minutes at a time just a week ago.
Or perhaps it’s all the energy he’s been expending. You see, after arriving in Istanbul, Alon mastered the skill he’s been working on for weeks: the back-to-front roll. As of yesterday, he rolls with no trouble at all, and we are now constantly moving him back to the edge of the blanket after he rolls all the way across it to the other side. And he is pretty proud of himself as a result: