Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Return Ticket

It is just about 4 days now after returning to Doha from India. Was a long vacation for me , of close to 2 months and I ensure I do that each summer. When I wrote the first sentence I actually counted with my fingers, friday..saturday...and Tuesday today is only the 5th day in Doha. But seemed longer. Much longer. And this is what strikes the difference for us. 

We wait for summer every year to book out tickets to India. More, more, we want more number of days there and we click on the return date as delayed as possible. Yet it happens that these days just whoosh past making a lot of memorable noise and we are all set with Return Ticket in hand!

Few years ago, my daughter was barely 4 years of age, when I was working, and I had enrolled her into summer vacation classes in Doha. One morning after talking to Chandrika, my friend who was leaving to Mumbai for long vacation (I had only 20 days sanctioned from my office) I casually asked my girl. "You will go to ajjis house? Alone? Chandrika auntie will take you in big flight and drop you there."
She instantly answered in affirmative with twinkle in her eyes and brushing them shyly. And I clearly remember the frock she wore, where she was seated in the living room, and how she seemed so excited after that, humming and talking to her dolls and hopping all round the house.
Then I held her and asked repeatedly. She showed me her bag and insisted she would go!

I still remember my informing this  to  Chandrika and my hubby. Both were surprised and eager. But as the flight departure was soon enough on the same day, online booking was closed. Chandrika and her husband Dinesh ran down to air lines office and purchased a ticket for minor while we arranged no objection letter for minor child to travel with friend. After 2 hours I was suddenly anxious. She was only 4!. What was the hurry to send her only on the basis of her excitement? But what put me back right was I was doing all right! My best friend was taking her. My sister was picking her at Mumbai airport. And my mother was going to take care of her in India. So what could be wrong. Nothing. I was convinced.

And yes, she excitedly packed her pink bag, favourite clothes and left with a happy good bye.

Even today my family take it up lightly as a moral story for the younger kids who get cranky even to eat or sleep. "Look at Jui akka, she came to India alone at 4. Played here, ate and slept all by herself without sticking to amma or paapa"! 

That was the beginning. She is now 15 and younger one 5, and I always ensure my kids have spent ample time of their holidays in the company of family members in India, seen the life there, don't cry seeing the lizards and mosquitoes. 

Now, my daughter who is 15 laughs when my son mentions Manipal as India and then Bengaluru or Mangalore are called by their respective names. But there was a day she too did just that. Going to India meant going to granny's place. And that was Manipal.

Ask her now, and she has cherished memories from those summer vacation times. Small things mused her. The touch me not plant, the cows at the gate, beggars singing with odd musical instruments, frogs in monsoon puddles or the centipedes curling up here and there. 

And so as a ritual, this summer too I was there. In India. Precisely in Manipal. For more than 3 weeks.  My son is now 5. And it is enjoyable to notice he too enjoys India the way my daughter did. The same fun tricks played in monsoons. In fact they are getting better and better. From not fearing the mosquitoes to not fearing a cobra hardly 1 foot away from them. Yes. Indeed.

I was taking kids for a stroll in the afternoon when rain had slowed down with sun showing its way a bit. It was then my eyes noticed the creepy crawling greenish long thing. I stopped. I pointed at it and told kids, walk fast. But they stopped. To have better look. By then I noticed it was yellowish, crawling too slowly and rising its hood, all signs it was a cobra. My daughter confirmed it first. It is a cobra amma she said.
That's it. My son's proficiency about creatures was alerted (yes, and he has surprisingly unbelievable knowledge about creatures). It was me who was frightened, of the aesthetics (overgrown weeds with creepy insects over our head) may be for security of the kids, and asked them to move on. This nagarpanchami while I was unable to visit the temple due to a death in the family, I almost was lucky to have the darshan of the Nag right where I was. This is what my elders at home told me. Pity, in the anxiety, did not bother to take a picture of  it, though I had my phone right in my pocket. 
But then aren’t holidays about creating memories other than visiting lovely destinations, and clicking beautiful pictures? I do have vague pictures of the enchanting paddy fields with lush green shoots, few peacocks and pea hens. At times when my car is full of kids, mine, those of my siblings, the kids find pleasure in nothing but a long drive in the rains to the Suvarna river, on the uphill and down hill roads literally squealing  “wee” and, pointing at random cow pooping on the roads, or a dog barking at my car. 

Well, I must tell this. Genetics go quite strong.

I told this to my daughter this holiday when she insisted I show her Udupi Krishna Temple, take stroll around, show her my school, without her pesky brother chattering and howling. Why I said, genetics here, is that this was what I loved doing in my growing years. Going to the temple hall, listening to the "Madhva Pravachans" with my bestie Anu, writing scholar exams conducted by the "Mutths".  There is something special about walking around these Mutths when the speakers faintly play spiritual mantras and a group of devotees sitting around singing loud bhajans. And this is exactly what my girl feels too. "I love the vibes" she said, hopping around like a baby.

And overall, I love the "vibes" when, the kids enjoy "my town" the way I do!,  love eating in temples, or the local delicacies, just the way I do!

Most friends in Doha enquire with me about Manipal that they have heard as the International town, or educational town, especially after seeing the pictures of the rural landscape that I post. This is the best blend in my town that the town was originally a forest and just few kilometers crossing the town borders are well spread rural areas. We have temples nestled in paddy fields surrounded scantily by woods where I often take kids to watch peacocks. And my family and friends knows the place by the name "kecop (peacock) jungle" as named by my 5 year old.

Well, all said and done, there is so much life covered in these few days. Neither can words match them, nor any pictures. That is what a holiday in India is for my  NRI kids. Enjoy the monsoons and grab the return ticket back to the sand dunes before the school begins. 😃

A short post after a long time, let me know if you found it interesting.✋💛