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I had managed without the help you usually get in India. Of the mother-in-law. Or of a night nurse. Or of a Japa, these very traditional nannies, often from Kolkata, who assist mother and newborn during the first 30-45 days after birth. Day and night, they take care of everything, bath, massage, food etc. Without any support (as I didn’t feel any was required), I thought the three of us had done pretty well these first months! But I had to start thinking about succession for when I would resume work... 

india,maid,japa,ayah,nanny,baby,mary poppinsSo came the time to hire an ayah, which is in India a maid cum nanny, if possible with some cooking skills... Although Indian women prefer to be employed by foreigners (they work less to earn more while being treated more humanely, as they themselves say), we didn't get many options. ‘Working less’ implies that they do not work on Sunday nor Saturday (they don’t necessarily get days off with local employers); and that they work from 9 to 5 – which doesn’t help when you have yourself to be in office from 9 to 6 (the few times where you leave before 8 p.m.). And in case they themselves have young children (i.e. most of them) or they live very far (i.e. almost all of them), you know you can say goodbye to extra time which is bound to happen... And if you want her to speak at least some English, you might as well ask for the moon... 

I was therefore about to say yes to a nanny who didn’t know a word of English, had a little girl and lived in the far east (of Mumbai) when we gave a last interview. A Christian (therefore English-spoken – don’t ask, Indian Christians usually speak better English than Hindi), with a 27-year-old daughter, who lives close by, who is used to work 12 hours a day and on Saturdays, who has already worked with foreigners (and “they do not stand any dirt at all” she added!) and who asks for less money than others. Too good to be true it seemed! According to her, her old age is a handicap to find job today: being in her fifties, mothers fear that she cannot run after their kids! 

In 24 hours, she had made friends with the cat. The cat that terrorizes everybody as he is kind of gigantic; even the Pest Control guys did not dare enter the guest bedroom he was sleeping in. The cat that slaps your feet to get your attention and spits when pissed off. So, this cat, from the first day, she started conversing with him as he was growling in his cupboard hideout!

In 24 hours she had reorganized the cupboards (food and clothes). Ironed pillow cases, a first for them. Dusted off the vacuum cleaner and then below the sofa, then the fans.

Within 24 hours she had taken over my food diet and timing! If mummy digests well, so will the baby. I thus learned (but let me doubt that) that the impressive farts of my son are due to my love for potatoes... Well, I don’t know if potatoes make you fart but I can tell you about the peas she cooked for us the first night... If her goal was to clean my intestines in fanfare, she definitely scored! No chilly in the food, plenty of fibers, garlic and ginger (condiments that she loves to prevent gases) and I even have to fight to eat my ‘regular’ yoghurt (“but low-fat is better, it doesn’t make you fat”)! 

And then above all, above all, in less than 24 hours Baby Samourai ended up on a mattress on the floor with an Indian cloth diaper! I almost got a disapproving comment when I put a Pampers on him to feed him: apparently Indian mothers come to know the pattern of their offspring’s pooping and put modern (absorbing) diapers only at that time. I am not sure the intestinal clock of my baby is properly set! And I don’t particularly enjoyed being peed on... I also had to fight with her for him to not spend the full day naked: where doctors say the baby needs one more layer of cloth compared to me, she said one less! 

india,maid,japa,ayah,nanny,baby,mary poppinsAnd as for her age is concerned, it shouldn't be too much of a problem since, as she repeats frequently to the baby: "no carrying business, no carrying business". In other words, he can forget spending his time in the arms – in fact he already doesn’t spend much time in the arms but he likes to fall asleep on our lap, especially if we sing 'Ooooom' bouncing on the exercise ball (surprisingly she did not look overjoyed at the idea of working her muscle on the ball!). I also got an admonition on the subject. She is not cold in the eyes that one! At the same time she is not wrong, he does need to learn to fall asleep alone... 

india,maid,japa,ayah,nanny,baby,mary poppinsIn 24 hours, Mary Poppins took charge of us, me my house and my son. As for me, while I thought I had been managing rather well, I was left with the impression of being a college girl who is doing all wrong things with her doll in her pigsty! 

Let’s hope it lasts ;)


Visa and OCI process for a baby born in India with Indian and foreign parents (as on February 2015)

1.     First step: a visa

 You need to get a 'new visa' done at the FRRO for which you need:

·         Form filled online here and printed out

·         Letter issued by the consulate

·         1 copy of marriage certificate

·         1 copy of baby and parents’ passports

·         1 copy of foreign parent's visa / PIO / OCI

·         1 copy of baby's Indian birth certificate

·         1 copy of residence proof

·         1 copy of the 2 forms in pages 3 & 4 of this document (it is not mentioned anywhere but I gave it and they filed it so I guess it is meant to be included - nice to notice that it has to be signed by

·         both parents, so don't forget in case only one parent makes it to the FRRO)

·         2 photos 3.5 x 4.5 cm with white background

·         Cash to pay the visa fee (4 800 rupees for 6 months for a French national)

NB: The visa will be valid from the date of passport issue and then it will take 3 months to get the OCI. You may want to take this into consideration to apply for a 6 month or 1 year visa!

It is said that you will pay a fine if you don’t process the visa within 2 weeks of receiving the passport. This didn’t happen to me, though I was almost 2 months late.

When to go: You need to go to the FRRO on the day you get an appointment (which you get once you have filled the form and uploaded the documents online).

Baby has to be there as his pic will be clicked.

Timing: Submissions are from 9:30 to 12 AM. The same day (either right away if the officer is there or at 3 PM) you will get the visa and registration!


2.     2nd step: the OCI (Overseas Citizen of India)

india,fro,frro,visa,oci,pio,passport,registration,newborn,babyAfter that you need to apply for OCI (there is no more PIO) at the FRRO. This is lifelong and doesn’t require registration. As the spouse of an Indian national you can also apply, after completing 2 years of marriage.

For which you need to bring:

·         2 print outs of the form filled online here (you can do it before getting the baby’s visa) – the baby has to ‘sign’ it, by putting his thumb print in the cell below the picture (left thumb for a boy, right thumb for a girl)

·         2 copies of baby's birth certificate (the Indian one if born in India or the foreign one with official English translation if born outside)

·         2 copies of marriage certificate self-attested

·         2 copies of baby's passport, visa and registration

·         2 copies of parents' passports self-attested

·         2 copies of foreign parent's visa / PIO / OCI self-attested

·         2 copies of residence proof self-attested

·         2 photos 5.1x5.1 cm with light blue background

·         Demand draft of 15 000 rs payable at ‘Pay and accounts (Secretariat) Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi’

When to go: You go to the FRRO, straight to the PIO / OCI section, without appointment.

Baby doesn't need to be here provided he has signed the form!

Timing: Submissions are from 9:30 AM to 1 PM.

After that there will be police verification at your place within 2 weeks. And then the OCI process will take around 3 months.

You keep the passport with you so you can travel with the visa given prior to the OCI application! 


If you go early for the visa and the officer is there to sign it, you can immediately apply for OCI and avoid a second trip! If not, you may try and apply in the afternoon - they are open though it says they don't take submissions! 


Baby Samourai made-in-India – 7. After the pool

Eventually they took me out of the water for good. And then, I was swimming (note the water metaphor, it's beautiful isn’t) in complete surrealism.


Imagine. I've always been the first one to say, as more than 80% of the French (2), that if I give ever birth, I will get the epidural. No question about it! With my argument: when you go to the dentist, you get an anesthesia. Well here it’s the same.

And here I was, drowning in pain, and saying nothing. Nothing at all. Not a word. I suffered in SILENCE. Just a voice in my head screaming "but just give me a fucking epidural already!"). A Samourai in all its glory!

And there, out of nowhere an anesthetist materialized, almost sorry to be there: everyone seemed to over-convinced that I wanted a natural birth (probably because I had opted for the water birth) and therefore was against painkillers. So I had to listen to the speech of my doctor who explained to me that I had no reason to be ashamed of reducing pain, that I had already gone through a lot, and that she herself had given birth to twins by caesarean. In total surrealism I was swimming, I tell you!


I refused to sniff gas and but accepted a spinal (no time for the epidural). Immediate relief!


In short, I ended up giving birth... Lying on a table, legs spread, with my favorite Indian, three gynecs, two pediatricians, an anesthetist, a midwife, and six nurses in the room. And I couldn’t care less! It actually even made me laugh thinking back of the 'intimate' childbirth I had planned!


And Baby Samourai was there! On my chest! Peeing on me! That’s how we realized it was a boy: doctors had forgotten to check...

In India, sex determination of the fetus is prohibited, since Indians took advantage of this technology to abort girls – which are expensive, with the dowry. India has a deficit of girls, and in some States it has started to cause serious problems, having to import brides and all (see these posts for more on the topic).


And the final word: baby Samourai hates baths, which should not surprise anyone... ;-)


(2) The French are apparently more sensitive than the British since only 30% of the latter opt for anesthesia (Sources:;)


(The End)