Our winter holidays are always complicated since we spend Christmas with my in-laws in Bangalore and then hotfoot it across the country before 30th December to spend my mom’s birthday with her. This year was no different, though thankfully unlike last year, the itinerary does not need a flow chart to explain. The complexity this year arose from the extra little person and her not-so-little bundle of stuff that had to accompany us. So for a two-week holiday, we carried:
- One ginormous suitcase
- One medium-sized suitcase
- One strolley
- One travel cot
- One diaper bag
- One laptop bag
- One bag full of Ayaan's friends (we have soft toy friends who must do everything with us – this deserves a separate post in itself that I hope to write next)
The little person herself was bundled up and carried in this brilliant and most useful sling that Mad Momma has lent me. It’s called the Mayawrap and I highly recommend it. Tarana loves it and stays peacefully in it. It made travel much easier since I had my hands free to help Jai with the luggage and even satisfy Ayaan’s request to hold my hand. Here’s a picture from later in the trip of Tarana sleeping in the sling…
Anyway, back to Tarana’s first flight. I had grand plans of nursing her at takeoff to prevent discomfort due to the air pressure change, but we were seventh in takeoff sequence and she got screamingly hungry so had to feed her before take off but then she went off to sleep and the air pressure didn't bother her. She was either asleep or peaceful or smiley through most of the flight bar 2-3 bouts of 5-minute crying jags, one of which was because of she needed a diaper change. She was really so very manageable and Ayaan still remained the centre of all our efforts to survive the flight. He had a major meltdown because he didn't like the way the Crayola crayons box opened (crayons not as accessible to clumsy, little fingers) since he is used to using the Camlin ones! Landing was ok too - Tarana was awake but not hungry so when she started fussing, I popped the pacifier that I had brought along for the purpose into her mouth.
Life in Bangalore was terribly hectic. Tarana went completely off-schedule and refused to nap during the day. And also got upset at being passed around too much so would scream blue murder at being carried by anyone else except me. All in all, I spent most of my awake time feeding, bathing or putting one or the other of the kids to sleep.
Thankfully, while Ayaan wouldn’t allow anyone else to feed or bathe him, he was quite happy to go off gallivanting with various members of the family. Jai took him to the park behind the house twice a day, he went out for a dosa breakfast, was despatched to a neighbour’s house to play with their grandkids and most fun of all, he visited the gingerbread house and giant Christmas tree at the Leela Galleria. The life-size gingerbread house actually had cookies and other treats stuck to the walls that could simply be plucked off and eaten. And eat he did! You know that new research that says that sugar doesn't make kids hyperactive? Well, that day I had a boy with a sugar high on my hands that proved otherwise!
With the noble intention of involving Ayaan in the Christmas preparations, my father-in-law recruited his help in putting up the Christmas tree. The first task was to get the tree and ornaments down from the loft so Ayaan was airlifted to the loft where he spent a merry fifteen minutes passing stuff down. After that, he started to lose interest and had to be removed from the scene when he started wielding the branches as a weapons to swat stuff/people with and kicking the ornaments around. After the tree was finally put up in spite of his help, he had a great time spraying a can of fake snow on the tree. He did a pretty thorough job of it and I don’t envy the person who has to clean the tree and ornaments of all the gunk.
It was quite a task from keeping him from ripping the presents open but he finally did hold out till Christmas morning, though he kept showing us the presents that had his name on them. He got a toy tool box from us, a snow globe from the brother-in-law BIL and his wife, a couple of wooden toys from my sister-in-law and some books. I got a new Samsung touchscreen phone from Jai, a lovely musical jewellery box and some other stuff. Ayaan was present-opener in chief and had a complete ball opening everybody's presents for them.
The other highlight of the Bangalore trip was Tarana's christening. If you had told me a few years ago that I'd find getting dressed and out of the house by 10.30 a.m. a challenge of gargantuan proportions, I wouldn't have believed it. But then Ayaan only got up at 9 and by the time he, Jai and I were dressed it was 10 and Tarana just about woke up. So I decided to ditch the bath for her - fed her, dressed her and left for the church.
Tarana’s christening dress was stitched by my mother-in-law and it was totally adorable. There is something so special about hand-made stuff, especially handmade stuff made with love (like Sue’s lovely kantha). There was another baby being christened at the same time and though she wore a beautiful all-lace dress, it was so obviously store-bought and machine made that I wouldn’t have traded T’s dress for the world.
Some wedding was running late so we had to wait outside for a bit. Ayaan immediately got busy with his favourite activity – mucking around in the mud – and put paid to all my efforts to have him looking neat and well turned out.
The baptism itself went pretty smoothly, with Tarana sleeping through most of it, though she did bawl her head off when they poured the freezing cold water on her head.
I think what made the Bangalore trip most special this year was the relationships that Ayaan was able to forge with everyone there. In past trips, he had ample opportunity to cling to me but this time, he had a lot of independent and memorable interactions with the extended family and was happy to go off and do stuff with them, without me in attendance. That, in itself, was a big milestone.
The next leg of our trip took us to Jaipur for my mother’s 60th birthday. Just in case getting everyone (a friend says I make it sound like I am caring for a football team :) – I guess there is a Drama Queen in all of us) ready and out by 10.30 was too easy, we needed to leave the house at 7.30. We somehow managed to drag everyone out of bed, get loaded into the taxi and make it to the airport in time for the flight. The flight was uneventful. I was a bit stressed out since I had forgotten to sterilise the pacifier but Tarana deigned to nurse both at takeoff and landing so all was well.
The exciting thing about the Jaipur trip was that my mum did not know that we were coming. A couple of months ago she had pulled a complete martyr act, like only a mother can, saying that she didn’t want us to take the trouble of coming to Jaipur and 60th birthdays were not such a big deal anyway. So like the good children we are, we decided to just ignore her and land up anyway. We managed to keep the whole thing hush-hush and she had absolutely no idea we were coming.
It was weird not to have her waiting for us at the Arrivals gate when we exited the airport but we got into a pre-paid and headed home to wait for her. I called her to test waters (told her I had just landed in Mumbai) and figured that she would be coming home for lunch. The sad part was that when she did arrive, I was inside feeding the girl and missed the golden opportunity to say 'Surprise' and catch her expression. But Ayaan and Jai did the needful and she was super thrilled. In spite of her martyr-hogwash, she was flying two inches over the ground as one surprise after another was unveiled. At 7, my brother entered the house to more excitement.
The next day was her birthday. She thought that the plan was a cozy dinner at her friend's place. Unknown to her, we had planned a big party - which we were a little stressed about since the banquet manager of the place had not managed to get anything together. Jai stepped in and after telling her he had a meeting, went off and got everything together in time for the party. The friend (at whose house the party supposedly was) called in the evening and told mum that she needed to pick up some kababs on her way (from the venue of the party). Mum cribbed and cribbed about why she could not have asked someone else and felt most put upon as the birthday girl. She then proceeded to take a century to get ready while my brother and I were pulling our hair out in trying to make her hurry without giving the game away. We finally left the house well after Jai messaged us saying everyone had arrived and was waiting. In the rush, forgot the camera. :((((((
She was well and truly surprised and was very happy despite her earlier statements of not wanting a big party. A few of her friends and relatives from Delhi showed up too so that made it extra-special. The brother had chosen a lovely poolside venue and we had hired a live band which sang all the retro English numbers she loves. So, all in all, the Great 60th Birthday Surprise was a grand success.
The rest of the Jaipur trip flew by in a blur of sleep for me. My mother retired the day after her birthday so I handed the care of both kids to her and Jai and stirred myself only to nurse Tarana. It was a much-needed breather!
The Jaipur story would not be complete without a BIG thank you to The Mad Momma and Eve’s Lungs for helping me out with Tarana’s woollen wardrobe. Since finding adequate woollies in Mumbai for a newborn proved virtually impossible on my (feeding) schedule and asking my mum to stock up might have got in the way of the big surprise, they very generously stepped in, bought and couriered some lovely warm clothes for Tarana. Here’s Tarana and Buddy the Dog (thanks to Ayaan) modelling some of them.
On the flight back, we finally dropped the ball and left our strolley suitcase behind in the cabin. But we were really lucky since the airline found it and got it back to us in one piece (including some gold earrings that Tarana had been presented with).
Phew. And with that, ends the holiday saga.