Even before we started from home, Chhavi and I were bargaining hard with each-other. She wanted her hair braided right at the gate. I told her that she had to let me take pictures, including hers! The deals in place we headed to the metro station to go to Dilli Haat. It was the mother daughter day out!
True to her word, she got a single braid right at the entrance. She wanted henna on her hands too, but I cajoled her to let it go till the end, or else she would not enjoy roaming around.
Her next demand was for a chuski, which I agreed to. While she was eating her chuski and dropping half of it on her dress, I went and got a mango kulfi for myself. In the end she did not finish her chuski.
Chhavi likes to touch everything that is on display. And I have to keep running after her, to make sure she doesn’t break anything. But the shopkeepers were extremely patient with her. Not even a single one said anything to her for touching their stuff!
We bought two rings for Chhavi from this shop. While going back I stood by to click another picture of this display which I liked a lot. I was yelled at for clicking a picture now that I was not buying anything. It took me a bit by surprise as almost every second peron in Dilli Haat walks around with a DSLR! I am good at giving back, but that is not why I go out of the home, to pick up petty fights. Anyway this was just one stray incident in an otherwise wonderful day.
I quite like taking a stroll at Dilli Haat for such colorful pictures. I told Chhavi she could buy three things though eventually the limit was revised to 5! She bought a head band from this shop!
After a while I insisted on food whereas Chhavi would not go anywhere near it. We found Modak at the Maharashtra Food Stall. In my foolishness I ordered two. It was a struggle to finish it off as the kid would just not eat her share! I tell her that there is a limit on things she can but but not on what she can eat. She wants it to be the other way round.
By the time we reached the Maharashtra Stall she wanted her braid to be opened at any cost! The knot was tight and I could not open it. First, she wanted a braid and then she could not bear it! The joys of going out with a child! I told her we will ask the same lady to take it out. That gave me some breather to finish my tea in relative peace!
Chhavi often urges me to buy one of these for myself. I never wear them, so I am content to click pictures. She bought a huge pink necklace from outside for herself.
A blue colored flower crown was our last purchase. After that we went to the same braid lady and asked her to take it off. She was quite sympathetic to Chhavi asking her if it was too tight?
After two visits to Chandni Chowk, I have realized that Dilli Haat food is not even a patch on food in Chandni Chowk. I have had mango lassi now at both the places. At Dilli Haat they charge twice a much for a very watery drink. For our next outing within the city, I think I am going to go out to Chandni Chowk with Chhavi.
When Chhavi and I stopped at Rishikesh (our way to Deoriatal) we decided to roam around Lakshman Jhula in the evening. We were staying close by so it was supposed to be a pleasant walk. While going down it was actually a pleasant walk. I was carrying all my camera gear so I was relying on Chhavi to walk. I cannot carry her anymore for even slightly long distances anyway. She also knows this and co-operates with me. Going down was not a problem at all. I was stuck at how empty Rishikesh felt! Usually crossing Lakshman Jhula is a task, there are so many people on it. On this evening in November it was almost empty. We reached the Jhula within no time and got down to the bank.
The day was fading fast so we had to get out before it became completely dark. A few rafts were still coming to the shore near the Lakshman Jhula and Chhavi told me in no uncertain terms that the next time she is going to sit in one of those and not a boat. I have made a note of it for the summer. Anyway chatting together we started walking up. She complained once or twice as we were walking uphill now. I told her she is a big girl now, I can’t lift her up. I noticed a tempo stand while walking down and I thought maybe I will take a tempo to the hotel.
My sense of direction is so bad that I can get lost even in a telephone booth if it has two exits. So after walking for a while I thought the tempo stand should be near by. However, it was nowhere in sight. I decided to ask for directions. I took Hotel Divine as the landmark. People told me there are two of them and I got them mixed up! So the people told me the correct direction to the other Divine Hotel. Thinking of it to be the correct one I started walking. By now the girl was not giving me any trouble, she probably realized I need to concentrate on finding the hotel. She kept walking without any protest.
When I reached the other Divine Hotel I realized it was the wrong one. I decided to turn back. A woman sitting in a small shop asked me why was I turning back. I told her I was looking for the other hotel. She directed me to the correct route. Only it came out a little ahead of our hotel and by now I had lost my orientation completely. I first asked a policeman for the way and he pointed out in the general direction. I thought the hotel should be the other way. Still, I walked and within a few meters I asked a shop owner for the way to my hotel. He came out and pointed out the hotel which was right in front of my eyes!
Both Chhavi and I were happy. For me all the anxiety was about Chhavi being too tired. The route was populated and I was not worried about us in any other way. But when we sat down for dinner Chhavi told me that I got her lost and I should not get her lost. Even when we reached Deoriatal she was quite concerned if Sohan Singh ji was going to be with us or not, because mum would get her lost.
The incident would have not properly registered with me if it was not for her protests! I can now imagine how frightening it must have been for her to think that we were lost. I have learnt my lesson and I am going to be doubly sure about my route when I am with her! Maybe because of her I will develop some sense of direction in the end!
Chhavi and I are back from Deoria Tal. It was one roller coaster ride from here to Deoria Tal and back. Traveling with a child makes it all the more fun and unpredictable. There are a lot of dos and don’t for my travels. A child makes them go haywire without even trying!
Traveling with a Child
5. Avomine and Sleep: I have motion sickness on the mountain roads. Do you see the irony? I love mountains and yet to reach there either I puke or I take Avomine and get zonked on it. I miss out on the scenery completely while I am on the road! After taking the medicine I fall asleep and I wake up only when we are close to the destination. There were times when the cab driver had to wake me up saying you need to get down now! So my theory was that you cannot keep awake after taking Avomine. It took a child to prove the theory wrong! This time even after taking the anti-nausea medicine I was wide awake most of the time because I had to make sure that Chhavi was comfortable. While coming back from Deoria Tal to Haridwar I didn’t sleep a wink and that is a personal record. This was the first time I could see some of the views on the route. There are unexpected benefits of traveling with a child!
Chhavi Walking Downhill with our Guide Sohan Singh Bisht
4. Shelling Out Money: We started from Deoria Tal on foot. After walking downhill for 3 km we reached Sari village. Chhavi walked down for most of the way. It was for less than half a kilometer that Sohan Singh ji carried her down. Then we took a booked jeep to Ukhimath, after that a shared jeep to Rudraprayag. Then we said bye to Sohan Singh ji who was going to Joshimath. We boarded a bus to Haridwar but realized it was going up to Srinagar (there is one in Uttarakhand too) only. Then we took a bus to Haridwar. We started at 8.00 am and reached Haridwar at 8.00 pm. Imagine doing that with a 6 year old! It is my motto to do budget travel (unless invited!) but I broke it this time. I asked for the phone number of Country Inn and Suites at Haridwar from my sister. Then I called them and asked if they had a room? When the reply was affirmative I told them to hold a room for me. I spent on the room, food and cab to the railway station in one night what I did on the entire trek! But Chhavi was so tired that I didn’t want to get down at the dark bus station in Haridwar and search for a reasonable budget hotel. She loved the room and I think once in a while it is OK to break my cardinal rules!
Sari Village at Dusk, Uttarakhand
3. Chhavi and Motion Sickness: We have taken Chhavi to the hills many times before. She never felt motion sickness. So we assumed that she is lucky she doesn’t get it. All our previous trips have been overnight where she slept like a log within no time. This time we were on the mountain roads during the day as well. On our way from Rishikesh to Rudraprayag she told me she felt like vomiting. I was quite surprised. Thankfully the bus stopped for breakfast soon after and I gave her less than half an Avomine. The bus started and she vomited within no time. You know how bad it feels when kids become unwell. She had vomited the Avomine too. But my little one slept after it. Thankfully we had an hour’s break at Rudraprayag where she settled down. I gave her less than half an Avomine again and she managed fine till Sari Village. There is one thing about Chhavi that makes traveling easy with her. When we are in a real crunch she will never trouble me. But give her a nice seat in an AC coach and she will be up to a thousand pranks!
Chhavi Making Paratha at Deoriatal
2. Making Parathas at the Tea Shop in Deoriatal: The young boy running the canteen invited Chhavi to sit near the fire in the morning as it was cold. She wanted to help in preparing the breakfast. And they gave her an opportunity to roll out the parathas. I was surprised how well she did it! The boy actually used her creation to make the breakfast!
Chhavi Selling Tickets to Haridwar!
1. Selling Bus Tickets to Haridwar: When we boarded a bus at Srinagar which would take us to Haridwar, I was quite worried. It had already been a long day and we had 4 hours of bus journey still to complete. I bought two seats so that Chhavi sit in peace and sleep as well. She had other ideas. If you have traveled on Indian buses you know how conductors shout the name of the destination where the bus is headed to. Chhavi decided to join in and tried her hand at selling tickets to Haridwar! She took the conductor and me completely by surprise. You never know what will happen next when you travel with a child!