And it was quite an adventurous first attempt too – involving a long car drive, some horseback riding and a tranquil and low-activity hotel.
We went to a small hill station called Matheran which is a three-hour drive from Mumbai. We were quite nervous about such a long drive with a hyperactive toddler in tow, but Ayaan behaved quite well. He slept for about 45 minutes of the drive and was reasonably quiet for the rest of the journey. The only time he got upset was when we encountered traffic and the car slowed down… On the way back too, he behaved just as well. The only mistake we made was feeding him his mid-morning snack before a long, winding drive downhill – which was promptly ejected all over Jai during the course of the drive!
Now, the interesting part – the thing about Matheran is that automobiles are not allowed to enter so we had to leave the car in the car park and then traverse a hilly, uneven path on horseback for an hour to get to our hotel. Yes, we had to travel on a horse with Ayaan! Much to our surprise, this was much easier than we thought. He stayed on the horse for most of the time and the guide sweetly agreed to carry him for five minutes every time he got restless. On the way back, he got so comfortable on the horse that he actually slept through most of the ride.
We stayed in this place called The Verandah in the Forest and it’s actually the kind of place where a typical holiday would involve lots of walking around followed by periods of lounging, reading and napping. That is, unless you happen to be accompanied by a noisy and restless young fellow. Ayaan completely altered the profile of the place while we were there by charging around the place at high speeds and shouting and screeching at the top of his voice. I am sure people who came there for some quiet time were in for quite a shock!
It was quite rainy while we were there but we did manage to get in reasonable amounts of outdoor activity. Ayaan really enjoyed himself and got completely dirty every time we left the hotel. He went to sleep at his normal time so we got atleast a couple of hours to have a drink and a quiet dinner but for the rest of the time, he was constantly on his feet with one or both of us running behind him.
There was a 5-year old boy there who befriended Ayaan and they had a complete ball chasing each other around the drawing room. The boy really took to Ayaan and his mother had a tough time convincing him that it was not possible for Ayaan to sleep with him in their room! Seeing them play together made me want to have a second child tomorrow! But I guess that will have to wait a bit – Ayaan is still in a very needy and clingy stage and work is quite hectic. I don’t think I could manage being pregnant just about now…
Anyway, all was good and I am very glad we mustered up the guts to go ahead and do the trip. Till now, I was always balked at the thought of going on a holiday with Ayaan but this trip made it quite clear that it is not only possible but even fun, though different from the kind of fun we have been used to. It’s challenging and tiring but well worth it… it exposes Ayaan to new experiences (horseback riding and meeting new people, to name a few) and also allows us to get on with our plan of seeing more of the world than the cities where we and our families live.
So now our new family motto is ‘Have baby, will travel’.