When we came back from the evening Safari, Chhavi touched my earring and said it looked cute. Then she asked me why was I wearing only one? Chhavi and I have just got back from an extended weekend in Sariska (Rajasthan), the first daughter-mother trip of 2014. I realized I must have dropped that earring during the bumpy ride in the Sarikska Tiger Reserve.
There is only one piece of jewelry I like and no prizes for guessing what. Where ever I go I try to pick up one earring from that region. More often than not I end up picking more than one. The one that I lost, I bought it in South Africa. For a few seconds I did feel bad but then it was just an earring. I gave the other one to Chhavi to play with.
Chhavi promptly attached the earring to the room key chain and I forgot about it completely. We were staying at the Tiger Den, the RTDC hotel, right next to the reserve. We reached there on Saturday and came back on Monday. Saturday is the most crowded day at the hotel and by Monday there were only three other people at the place. Seshadri has been there alone and now we are planning a trip for the three of us together. It is just a hop away from Gurgaon, hence an ideal weekend getaway.
On Monday we checked out after 12.00 but our train was at 7.30 pm from Alwar. So I kept my luggage at the reception. Chhavi and I just lazed around the hotel. I actually sat in the sun for hours reading a book. Chhavi played in the sand, on the lawn and the swings. Slowly it became 4.00 pm and I went in to collect my luggage. As I went to pick it up behind the reception counter, I saw the key rack and my earring there. I instantly picked it up saying it is my earring. The person at the reception said he would untangle it for me. I told him I lost the other one and I would be happy to leave this one behind as I have no use for it. I guess when Chhavi attached it with my room key, we must have left it at the counter while going on an evening safari. From there it got attached to another key. So the earring from South Africa is now a key chain at Sariska! And I guess it is a happy ending for it!
The recent Pushkar trip was the first daughter-mother trip. She has been with her father alone many times, the best their trek to Kareri Lake in Himachal Pradesh. The way the trip went, I think there are going to be many more daughter-mother trips. Here are some things I learned while traveling with her. It is my experience of traveling with a child in India.
Taking it Slow
Taking it Slow: When I travel alone I completely tire myself out. Seshadri and I last traveled together in 2009 before we adopted Chhavi. I have almost forgotten how it was when we used to travel together! With Chhavi I have to take it slow or else I would end up with a very cranky child. So after we landed at Pushkar we ate at the RTDC hotel itself. And then we went to sleep as we took the early morning Shatabdi. Now if I was traveling alone, the motto has always been- sleep be damned, that sunset is more important. When we woke up we headed to eat something. She took some milk and I had my tea and pakora. I would never do it if I was alone. I would have rushed to the lake to click the sunset. This way I have only one sunset but I think it was one of my least tiring trips.
What Works at Home … What works at home may not work on a trip. This was the biggest lesson I learned on the Pushkar trip. Chhavi likes to color and we encourage her. It is much better than watching TV all the time. She also likes to run around and play but sometimes we need quite time without TV and running around. And painting as she calls it always comes to our rescue. So I bought her a color set and a giant coloring book at Pushkar. Only she converted one of the white hotel towels into multi-colored hues! That was a big lesson for me. At home even if she splashes color over something accidentally either it can be cleaned or it is to be written off. The hotel staff was very nice but colors and white linen don’t mix well!
Pretending to Shout- When All I wanted was Sleep
When You Want to Take a Nap! In the Shatabdi Express train (which has chairs and not sleepers) all I was looking forward to was sleep. I do not take well to getting up early because I always find it impossible to sleep early. My daughter had other ideas. We had two seats, window and middle. I put her on the window seat thinking that I would wake up if she ever tried to cross and go out of her seat. She never budged from her seat but every three minutes like the Shrek’s donkey she would wake me up and ask- “mamma kaab aayega” (which would actually translate to- are we there yet)! I had it after 160 times. I made her sit down and within 15 seconds she was fast asleep. However, I was now wide awake. While returning I told her she is not to ask to ‘kaab aayega’. And surprisingly she didn’t. I still don’t know of an easy way of taking a nap while traveling with a child.
Simple Things: Traveling with Chhavi makes me appreciate the simple things. She will not judge the room and so what if the TV was small and not mounted on the wall. She was happy because she could watch her cartoons. The lawn behind the hotel was big and she didn’t care for anything else, she would go running around it and have a jolly good time. For her the market was a treasure trove and not just a few small by-lanes. The lake was where she spent most of her time. But while walking out of it for the last time even she said- “isko thoda saaf kyon nahin rakhte” (why can’t they keep it a little clean)? If I had not seen Pushkar through her eyes and pranks I wonder if I would have enjoyed it as much!
Daughter Mother Trip
Traveling with a Child is Fun: In the end I can’t remember when I had so much fun on a trip! I am thinking of dragging both Chhavi and my niece Vasu on my next trip. I would get hassled with Chhavi but in the end she is an accommodating child on trips. She has this fascination with tissue papers (since we took her on our first trip to Rishikesh) kept on the table. She can play with it for hours without getting bored. Now did you ever noticed tissue papers in a restaurant? Well, neither did I! She surprises me as well. I told her that on the last day we were not going to do much as we were going back. I expected that she would protest. But she told me- tihk hai, nahin tou hamre train chut jaayege (that is fine or else we will miss our train). She likes to travel but in the end she is happy to go back as home is the familiar territory.
These impressions are based on just one solo daughter-mom trip. I am eagerly waiting to travel more with her and to update my wisdom list!
It was a daughter-mom trip, I was traveling to Pushkar with child! And if you are wondering why we left Seshadri behind it is because he was away for work. If I had a free hand I would have gone to Jaipur with Chhavi. But one of my dear school friends wanted to visit the dargah at Ajmer and the responsibility of planning the trip was with me. I decided to stay at Pushkar instead of Ajmer. Closer to the date, my friend had to drop out. But I decided to go ahead with the trip. That is how Chhavi and I ended up at Pushkar on Friday and we just landed back yesterday.
Colors for Sale, Pushkar, Rajasthan
In a way, Pushkar was a cosy place to visit with Chhavi. It has a small market that the two of us could walk easily. The Pushkar Lake was also next to the market. On Saturday while we were walking to the market hand in hand I got a phone call from another friend who was asking why my husband’s phone was out of reach! While we were chatting Chhavi told me, “mummy phone rakh do, mein shopping karunge “ (mummy put the phone down, I want to go shopping). I was incredulous. In my home shopping is not a concept, none of ever say let us go shopping. Anyway, I kept the phone down as she was getting restless. Her first stop was this color shop.
The shopkeeper was selling colors in a box. I bought one for Chhavi, put it in the bag I was carrying and forgot all about it. We spent the entire day outdoors by the lake but that is a tale for another day. By evening Chhavi was too tired. After dinner she told me, “mamma mugjhe bahut ninnu aa raha hai, pata nahin kyon, mein Doraemon bhi nahin dekh paa rahe hun” (mamma I am feeling very sleepy, I don’t know why, I can’t even watch Doraemon). She fell asleep within no time. I finished reading ‘The Guardian Angel’ by Rohit Gore and called it a day.
Chhavi at Pushkar, Rajasthan
The next day we were taking it easy. After breakfast we came back to the room (we stayed at the Sarovar, a RTDC hotel) and she asked for her painting box. I opened the back door. She sat on the floor with her giant drawing book (purchased in Pushkar again) and colors. I put on the TV (I had no other book to read) while I was lying on the bed. For 10 minutes I relaxed and didn’t use the eyes that I have for her on the back of my head. After 10 minutes I got up with a start and looked around. It is quite unusual for her not to call me for something for whole 10 minutes. She had taken a bath before breakfast and kept the white towel in the balcony to dry. And that hotel towel was now multicolored. I have no idea why she did it, probably it was a way for her to get the paint off her hands.
As soon as I saw it I knew it was a lost cause. I gave her a sound verbal scolding. She was scared. My mood was completely spoiled. It was 11.00 am but I decided to check out before she wrecked anything else. On the check-out I told them about the towel. I offered them to pay for it. They had a look at it and told me it was gone but after all she is a child. They didn’t charge me for it.
We went out to take a walk through the market again. She told me, “mamma usko aab bhul jaao” (mamma forget it now). When I told her they would scold us, she replied, “per mugjhe tou nahin danta” (but they didn’t scold me). I am still recovering from the trip.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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