Given that our India trip was three months back, this post is dated. But I wanted to jot down some lingering memories before they faded into oblivion. Be warned that this is a long tale meant for personal recollection.
– When I told my friends that I would be going to India by myself with two kids in tow, they thought I was a brave soul. “Are you sure you can manage two kids on a long flight”, they asked. Truth be told, I felt braver knowing that Hari would accompany me. Hari has good presence of mind, thinks of a problem in terms of solutions, and is very observant. As we entered the flight, I heard him mutter to himself, “I am older than Ram, I should protect him.” It’s another story that the sense of responsibility vanished every now and then, for which I was glad because it meant the seven year old was as he should be – carefree! The trip made me realize how much I have come to count on him to listen, to lend a helping hand and be my companion. The perks of having your little one grow up!
– While Hari was super excited throughout the trip, Ram had mixed reactions. Overcome by jetlag, heat, and the unfamiliar surroundings, the poor child chose to deal with the change by being clingy. Suffice to say that he insisted on being glued to me at all times and staying at one arm distance from rest of the clan. And as long as these requirements were met, he was a jolly camper, taking in the activities around him with glee – the lorries and the autos, the dogs and the cows, the car and the train rides, and the mamas and the mamis. Tell you, India truly is so full of life.
– Hari’s highlight of the trip was watching the Chennai Super Kings vs. Delhi Dare Devils match at the Chidambaram stadium. Due thanks to my parents and chithappa for making it happen. My parents went above and beyond to have his dream come true. And as a reward, the child was deliriously happy..! He wore his Chennai Super Kings t-shirt and hat, got his face painted, and simply enjoyed every second of the match. To date it is the first thing that comes to his mind when we talk about our India trip. Did I forget to mention that he managed to have a good collection of IPL t-shirts, which he insisted on wearing every single day in the sweltering heat? Yikes, those t-shirts come in ugly colors and uncomfortable fabric. Honestly, I couldn’t wait for the excitement to ebb.
– The trip also gave me some precious quality bonding time with my paternal patti. This is the first time I was seeing her after thatha passed away and it was heartbreaking to see her without thatha. She kept reminiscing about our childhood days, and recalling how thatha always thought of me as his chella pethi till his very end. The trip meant the world to me as much to patti. I was so glad she had an opportunity to see and get to know the kids better and vice versa.
– We made a day trip to Trichy where my maternal grandparents live. The drive itself was a ton of fun, with lots of yapping, playing and reminiscing with my parents. Trichy holds a special place in my heart because majority of my school years were spent in this beautiful city that is full of character. My maternal patti is an artist. She makes beautiful art with beads. I have seen her works all my life, but it is in this trip did I truly appreciate the beauty and the talent behind the framed art, and took the time to lavish compliments on her. I promptly looted a few of them as keepsake. Patti is a good cook as well and I have never seen anyone labor like her in the kitchen. Have you ever tasted homemade sevais? It is a South Indian delicacy akin to noodles that is very labor intensive, to put it mildly. She would dish out a bunch of flavors – lemon, coconut, lentils, jaggery – for us to devour. Instead of relishing every bite of it, what would we ask her? 2 minute maggi noodles. Sigh! Anyways, I digress. She had cooked up a storm that day. The next time I complain about having to cook, I will think of my 83 year old patti who does not have access to frozen veggies, and pre processed food, and does everything from scratch purely because it’s her way of expressing affection for her loved ones. Age has taken a toll on my thatha, but recalling all the fun days we had with him seemed to cheer him up. That will be a topic for my post some other day. Our trip to Trichy made me realize how distance and time creates fondness like no other. What was once taken for granted is thoroughly cherished with the passage of time.
– On our way back, we swung by my school, which is a very scared piece of my childhood. The good old Banyan tree under which we gathered innumerable times, the cycle stand that was proof of the discipline that the school espoused, the P.T. area that has seen me flunk in shot puts and long jumps, the humungous playground that hosted our heats and sports day, our classrooms in front of which we have knelt down as punishment, the talking and the socializing in the bathrooms. To say that I was drowning in memories from childhood is an understatement. It felt like I was retrieving memories out of every brick in that building. Sharing this slice of my childhood with my children meant much to me.
Continuing the rest of the narration in second part.