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10/31/2016

Traveling/living in India with young children

Our little trip in Europe helped me realize a big quality that Indians have, and it is a very big one: they love children. Which means, practically, that they do not look at you like you are about to commit some crime when you get on a train with your kid (who has not even opened his mouth but is already perceived as a source of trouble).

That they don’t throw nasty comments at you when, in an airport queue, you drop your smoothie trying to prevent your child from running away, and before you even have the time to take out a tissue to clean, “ah wonderful” (I told that old German hag to relax for the love of God).

That they don’t allow you to have dinner in their restaurant only under the condition that the child will remain sited and strapped in his highchair (no need to tell you that I went to another Scottish joint to have my fish & chips that day).

That there is little chances that an Indian hostess comes to tell you, after a one hour flight, that your baby has been “particularly painful” (he just screamed for 10 minutes but that same hostess wouldn't let me get up to distract him, because of the cart and her stupid rule that passengers can not sit on the floor below his seat even if the only thing he would thus disturb is the wall) and that “next time it would be better if the baby travelled in the economy class” (You're proud of you, aren’t you, Swiss Air bitch?).

That they will certainly try and distract your child on the plane if he is unsettled, or come to suggest feeding him if he is crying (it's a bit annoying that they explain any crying by hunger, but at least they try to help rather than push you further in your distress of mother-that-bothers-people).

That they will take him with them and their own children to let you “have breakfast in peace” at the restaurant. (You’re embarrassed, you don’t dare accepting, you give in and you are forever grateful to them for this little break.)

Sometimes it also gets a little extreme: it is not uncommon to see children in bars, late at night, with their parents. Or kids at the movies, watching adult films. But well, when you see how exposed to violence young Indian children can be through Indian mythology (full of violence, sex, betrayal) from an early age (see this post), you start thinking that an adult movie is not so bad.

india,europe,children,kids,babiesI kind of feel like that in Europe – and I confess I was like that before having a kid –babies are above all seen as a nuisance, a source of noise and inconvenience and you don't want to be next to one on the plane. Nor anywhere else. And maybe it’s a little sad. Children are the life, future, energy and innocence that we all lose a little growing up and that they give us back if we know how to watch them live and let them be. It’s also a little sad that people don’t even give them a chance to behave before thinking that they will ruin their happiness. But maybe I’m wrong...

10/17/2016

Between mythology and reality: how much violence!

It’s Tuesday. It's Dussehra. A sweet festival celebrating the victory of the god Ram over the Demon Ravan, who had kidnapped Ram’s wife, Sita. Our society had organized a small commemoration for the occasion. We arrived during the battle of Hanuman, the monkey God, painted in red, terrifying, as much as his comrades or enemies with giant moustaches, all of them fighting. I took baby Samurai close to the stage (the only place where there was a little room to sit) but with these monstrous costumes and super loud music, he got scared and I couldn’t blame him. What an explosion of violence!

image1.JPGThen we moved away from the speakers and their noise pollution and patiently waited for the ‘highlight’ of the show: they were to set fire to a giant demon (at least five meters high), and to his brother and son! We sat on the grass, the ground was a quite sloppy. I was holding Baby Samurai tight in my arms. The demons were on our right, a few metres away, behind a safety rope. I was looking at the crowd on my left, quite absorbed in studying all these people who never get out of their luxurious villas. And then, all of a sudden, a massive explosion. I turn my head and see this giant statue on fire, burning debris flying everywhere, people running, and, to add to the confusion, bombs continue to explode. I panicked. Completely. I grabbed my little one and tried to get up. Failing to do so, I fell, and started to get out of there crawling. When I finally spotted my favourite Indian! I yelled at him to take the baby, used his help to get up, took my son back, and while sobbing of terror, I run for our lives!

Once we reached a safe place, the last demon was going in flames and crackers and it was still so loud, I had to block the ears of Baby Samurai. And this circus was finally over. It is only the presence of the nanny (one can not be weak in front of the staff, right, Madam) that kept me from screaming and crying my distress. Half an hour later I finally stopped shaking, took a look at my injured knee and started to relax.

8 years ago, during my first Diwali in Mumbai, a jerk had exploded me a firecracker thirty centimetres from me, leaving me almost deaf in one ear, and so vaccinating me against Diwali in a big city. Since then, I have always made sure I would be in a remote area of India during that time of the year. And now it is going to be the same during Dussehra!

The scene shot by my neighbors (not busy fleeing it):

05/23/2016

Helen's pearls 1

I love the sense of humor of the Baby Samurai’s nanny.

For example at 6 o'clock this morning:

  • Her: Madam the lawn of the park is all wet, dogs must have peed everywhere.
  • Me: Helen...
  • Her: Oh! So it is dew then?
  • Me: …

In addition to putting me in a good mood in the morning, sometimes she makes me laugh so much.

That day I was in the pool, and Baby on the deck.

  • She: “Baby, go pee on the lawn”. Then to me: “I’ve been teaching him to pee on the lawn, instead of the pool deck. But he doesn’t really know how to make the difference between peeing and pooping”. To him: “Baby, hey you, since you seem to be pushing, trying to aim well and make caca on the floorboard so that it does not get stuck between two boards!
  • Me: What will my parents think when they come visit and my son goes on the lawn to shit!
  • Her: Don’t worry, we will tell them that the train station is too far...

 india,toilet,public defecation,shitting in public(If you don’t get the ‘joke’, the surroundings of train stations and highways as well as beaches, at least in Mumbai, are usually packed with jolly shitters in the morning.) And she said it, not me!

By the way, one day we had a debate. As she had mentioned with quite some despite all these “dirty people” who defecate in the street, I tried to defend them by pleading that more than half of the population still does not have access to toilets (source). But her, daughter of the slums herself, is convinced that it is their choice: they are the ones who don’t want to use toilets and prefer to have company while pooing.