Tag Archives: #schoolholidays

Travel with Kids: Mom on Leash

I have always aspired to write a travel blog post with superb tips on how to travel well with a toddler but it wasn’t meant to be! I think now, after so many holidays, BabyA is better prepared to compose a baby blog on how to keep your parents on a tight leash through a holiday, since she is the one with the reigns in her hands, while we stumble through foreign landscapes with her. If only her friends could read, what a hit she’d be!

Traveling with kids is a completely different ball game from what it was when you didn’t have any. From the first flight that I took with her since she was four months old, I could sense the looks that I got as I walked in, being treated like a leper- each passenger looking at me with unmasked fear flickering in his eyes, praying under his breath that I wouldn’t sit next to him. You’d think I was holding an AK 47 in my hands rather than a little cherubic infant.

I can’t say BabyA is a bad traveler. No one can accuse her of being the cranky child on the flight whose shrieks paralyze fellow passengers into an auditory coma, where they can no longer sleep, eat or hear themselves think. She’s a happy traveler- also better know as “Happy Singh” by her cousins who have gotten used to traveling with her overly joyful personality. But is she easy on the parents? No way! She’s in fact too happy on a flight, and thus, her hyper nature is manifested in her incessantly jabbing the traveler in front of her with her kicks (paralyzingly him into a real coma), and jumping from seat to seat, shrieking in laughter. It’s like trying to control an over-excited pup on drugs! She’s all over the place!

I remember how courageous (and mostly naïve) I was on that November day when I bravely decided to travel with her, sans husband, to Pattaya and Bangkok when she was merely a year and a half old. It was my Mama’s* 70th birthday and in all honesty, I was going to have half the Punjabi Bania population of Mumbai (all being my family: parents, siblings, first cousins, nieces and nephews) on the flight with me so what could really go wrong? 50 family members could surely compensate for 1 missing husband and 1 missing maid. But I was wrong!

My “toofanmail”** woke up at 5 am to head to the airport, fairly easily and excitedly, but from that moment to the time we reached Pattaya, 15 hours later, she didn’t sleep more than a half hour. Even after making her chug sleep-including anti-histamines, all she did was run from one end of the airport to the other. I imagined she would be fenced in during the flight and that would force her to sleep, but in the air, for 4 hours, she stood on my thighs and jumped up and down continuously, peeking at the sleeping body behind, tugging at a cousin’s remaining strands of hair in front.

She also made up an innovative “Maathi-lah” game to entertain herself. Aranya had picked up (in advance) the Southeast Asian habit of adding “lah”as a suffix after words/sentences and had started calling her Masi “Maathi-lah”! At first very endearing, my sister didn’t know that this name would be her undoing. The game was that whenever she suspected her tired Masi, on the other side of the aisle, had finally caught some shut-eye, she would go and shake her up screaming “Maathila!” till she was shocked out of slumber, only to give her a sweet, million dollar smile, and run back to me. Once she was sure that my sister had managed to lull herself back to sleep, she would do it over and over, for the next hour.

The bus ride to Pattaya was similar- more jumping on my thighs till I had to explain to her that when I said, “Be friendly and play with the Thais”, I hadn’t meant MY thighs! Then she started running up and down the aisle of the bus (while all other children slept peacefully), giving mini heart attacks to my big, fat Punju family, because at every brake, she threatened to fall down the bus-stairs.

It got so frustrating and tiring that at one point, I was ready to smack her, and finally started sobbing out of exhaustion and anger. It was the perfect place to have a mental and physical breakdown, as my mom, masis, mamis and cousins surrounded me, commiserating: first trying to restrain this mental toddler (who seemed to have gotten her hands on illegal stimulants before we reached the shady parts of Pattaya) but later reassuring me that the first day would be the hardest but it would get easier. And it did.

As my niece pointed out, with BabyA’s chubby cheeks, chinky eyes and poker straight hair, she had anyway emulated the adorable Asian baby look, making us look like child traffickers trying to smuggle a Thai baby out of their country, as the Immigration officer assaulted me with suspicious looks when we were leaving. This helped her blend in and the cuteness factor helped me buy some bubble tea and rest my bubble butt for a moment while some or the other local engaged in pulling her cheeks and cooing melodious, foreign words to her!

I had decided that since she was over a year, I wasn’t going to indulge her by being a “khichdi mom”***, armed with my pressure cooker, rice-dal and killer cooking attitude. I was going to be the lazy mom that I am who wants her daughter to adapt to her surroundings, even if it meant making her eat egg fried rice mixed with strawberry yoghurt on some occasions. And BabyA went along, dahi (yoghurt) in her Pad Thai, et al. She was as easy as her BabyA-ness allowed her to be! Everything in life is relative, and after the flight from hell on that first day I ever traveled abroad with her, all other travel days have seemed easier.

In retrospect, since I can’t blame BabyA of being a bad traveler, let’s just say that Nandy and I, over many holidays, came to realise that after every trip with her, we need a holiday to rest from the stress of the earlier one. We understood that we aren’t ideal “parent-travelers” and are better off just taking off on our own, at least once a year. So I have to say I love planning baby getaways (getting away from the baby) to exotic locales and sipping on a Mai Tai, while BabyA bonds with Dadi, Nani and SakuBai. It’s fun being me for ten days in a year, and leaving Mom-Bai back in Mumbai- where she belongs!

From Mom-on-leash to Mommy Unleashed!



*Mama- maternal uncle

**Toofanmail- hurricane

***Khichdi- a dish made of lentils and rice, easy on digestion that usually serves as comfort food for babies.


School is Out: Save our Mommy Souls!

The holidays: it’s the dreaded time when moms start shivering just thinking about how they are going to occupy their short-attention spanned kids for one and a half to two months. It’s a time as awful as when the baby’s Bai goes for her annual holiday, and if, by any chance, both these events happen to fall simultaneously, then that spells the end of any mommy fun that was planned for the next month (or a few)!

During vacation time, moms spend fleeting free moments by reading blog posts that entice them with words like “10 activities to keep the kids busy during holidays”, or hurriedly signing up at summer camps, wishing that they were prolonged camp-outs, rather than 2 hour classes. You find women furiously typing on their mommy-support what’s app groups, trying to figure out if any other fellow mommy has some magical activity box which would keep them busy for hours (and keep them away from her make-up box, the idiot box (TV) or worse yet, some Pandora’s box that they manage to get their hands on). And this is when the “I-don’t-waste-my-time-in-idle-mommy-chitter-chatter” anti-social mommies are cursing themselves for not building a larger network so as to be able to parcel their kids off to another mom’s house every evening of the week in return for babysitting their monsters for one evening.

Most mothers are only happy about the holidays because it means that they can sleep in, a tad bit (especially if you have a toddler like mine who obediently steps out in the morning to do ‘seva’ of Bhagwanji with dadi or to watch her dad read the paper and slurp tea, while I snooze). Moms also see it as an opportunity to push their lazy husbands to spend some cheese and take the family on a holiday. Although, before and after the holiday (and possibly sometimes during), all they do is pray to the Rain Gods & School Gods, hoping that the former comes soon as it would signal the start of the latter. When I was growing up, 6th June was the date circled in all mommy calendars as the day we expected monsoons in Mumbai and the day when schools would usually reopen.

Now of course, I pity myself, and the other IB* moms the most: For the longest time, I couldn’t fathom why kids (in ICSE and SSC boards) had holidays in the summer but went to school through the monsoons. Why would the Government want the kids to trudge to school at such a mucky time, when traffic ran amok and kids woke up several mornings, got completely dressed, wondering whether they should wade through floods and get to school, only to find out that it was shut or stay at home, and brave getting a demerit for playing truant when “all the other kids made it”.

Now, I understand that we underestimate our Indian Government by disregarding all their decisions as illogical but in reality, they have been very kind to us poor moms! They probably decided upon summer holidays so that kids, during vacation time, could at least be left to their own devices; to run about in building (or area) gardens while their moms put their feet up.

Now with this IB system, the holidays start just as the rains do, which means you’re stuck at home all day with your little terrorist, and there’s no relief as the weather doesn’t allow them to step outside. This is the worst kind of torture that anyone can inflict on moms (worse than “are-we-there-yet” questions on a long road trip). Perhaps this is a conspiracy by the U.S. Government and a way of eventually using American torture techniques to break an entire breed of affluent Indian moms. All I can say is that we fell for it!

I often wondered why my mom would recite her Hanuman Chalisa so animatedly, diving in obeisance over and over again, like she was evoking mercy from someone, nearing the end of our summer holidays. Now I know that she was invoking the Rain Gods so that it would mean that my two siblings and I would soon be off her hands, and her mind, from 8 am to 3:30 pm.

As I venture into the first week of BabyA’s IB school-timed vacations, I find myself doing a Lagaan-style dance, but this time not pleading “kaale megha, kaale megha, paani toh barsao!” (Dark clouds, bring down the rain showers!) It’s my version of a summer dance, my very own Surya Malhar, which begs the Sun God to ascend upon us soon, and clear away the clouds over Bombay city, and over my personal life! I pray, every day, “May the Sun again reinstate my child into school so I may never have to hear ‘Mom, I’m so booooooored’ ever again” (or at least for a year).

Could that be a ray of sunlight that I see at the end of this slushy, mushy rainbow? Oh no! Can’t be! After all, the independence of this country and us, IB mums, is still a month and a half away:

Around the 15th of August, at the stroke of the 8th morning hour, when the world sleeps, IB moms will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes which comes but rarely in history… when the soul of a mother, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to entertaining our kids, just until August, when we shall finally send  them off to school, and attain our freedom!

Nehru couldn’t have said it better!


*IB- International Baccalaureate