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11/21/2016

Trekking in the Nepal in August - Chapter 2, where to trek in India in August?

We had to find a place where we could baptize our bag... And that... is not easy. Because in August, it rains in India. Not all the time but enough to make any hike a bit tedious.

I know of two superb (and dry) trekking areas in India: Ladakh and Spiti Valley. But I had already explored these places (in August, and with no rain) but I was a bit reluctant to go there, mostly because of the altitude with my little one. For example, my mother had a bad mountain sickness in Spiti Valley.

I then explored Himachal Pradesh, with options around Manali (less far than Spiti Valley) but the prospect of a 15 hour bus journey to get there stopped me immediately. Which the local organiser found surprising and difficult to understand; and quite frankly I don’t know how Indians manage to do such trips with children...

I then went on the trail of Uttarakhand where I had had a very nice (and wet) experience in August in the region of Kumaon. But we were in a nice hotel, the rain sounded more romantic than if I had been in a tent. Yet many treks in this region (mostly pilgrimages) can ONLY be done during monsoon. So I guess it is possible to trek there in this season. A heavy rain put an end to my considerations, when I heard in the news about landslides – you should have seen the debacle in 2013, with some 5,700 people disappeared in these landslides.

So I ended up considering Kashmir and bought tickets before anyone could discourage me: I know the reputation of Kashmir but if you base your decision on reputation, you don't do anything anymore! As soon as I told my (Kashmiri) Pilates instructor she warned me: it's crazy (not to say stupid) to go there on August 15th (India independence day) when the insurgents who want secession are taking advantage of the summer snowmelt to come down and create some chaos in the capital. Oh well well, the tickets were booked, so let’s see! And there, BOOM!, barely a few days later, an rebel was killed, the conflict started all over again, 350 were injured, curfew was set up. Still I didn’t panic. I had one month left for things to calm down.

And to add to this, a few days later, I got to know that one of the girls in our group was pregnant! She asked her gynecologist for advice and the latter reacted in a very unambiguously way: “Trekking in Kashmir in August? But why? Are you telling me you want to go to Kashmir now? I am a Kashmiri and I tell you it is out of question right now with all that is happening!”. My friend asked her to make abstraction of the destination and to advice whether she could do a trek... And she was not overly enthusiastic: her concern was physical exercise, when it is recommended to take it easy during the first trimester. “Why do you want to get tired?” She gave up on explaining! Because it is true, when you think of it, why get tired?And here we were three weeks before departure, without any program. The situation was not abating in Kashmir, to the point that airlines and tourist agencies paying were fully reimbursing any booking. And to be honest I had starting wondering if this all not a sign of destiny: take it easy woman and go relax by the sea in some luxury resort... So I surfed the net, from the Andaman Islands to Koh Sa Mui. And during this trip, I came across an ad for Nepal. Nepal! How could I not think of it before??

11/14/2016

Trekking in Nepal in August - Chapter 1, Genesis

Trekking in Nepal in August? But why?

Well here is why…

It all started on a cool day of April 2015, while me and my family were visiting the Corsican mountains, with a 4-month-old Baby Samurai baby. I was so proud, carrying my offspring like a mama Kangaroo! But after a couple hours a family overtook us, and they were carrying a 12-month-old baby in special trekking carrier, an amazing thing. And THIS gave me lots of ideas!

When we started wondering where to go for the summer holidays this year, I immediately pictured a short trek with 20-month-old Baby Samurai. The first part of the plan was relatively easy: finding an amazing carrier. It is not really available in India. But a French girl happened to be selling hers on a website of expatriates. I bought it without a second thought!

 

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...