Monday, July 27, 2009

The Indian Journey.. so far!

While the fear of the wet bathrooms seem to have only aggravated over time.. they have been temporarily suspended with a pair of bathroom slippers/ flip flops... that cost me a headache. The guy at the store insisted on showing Cheeky pink slippers, and when the guy was told that pink was big NO.. he went on to blue and green with shiny tassels/ pink flowers/ barbies and princesses! Seriously I am not sure what was with that guy... finally we found a boring gray and black one for 200 bucks (an average flip flop costs about 40-50 bucks!) and received an exasperated look from the bewildered guy!! Later that day I spied a kids tooth paste pack with princess on the top cover and spider man inside!! I had to suppress a laugh!! I can't remember how it was when we were kids.. were we equally confused?

The lizards are back too... while visiting family recently, I spied Cheeky looking intently at a point in the wall above the television.. while the rest of the household watched yet another soap on the TV. Confused I asked him what he was looking at .. there it was a huge giant lizard!! Cheeky was curious "Why do they grow lizards in India?" Try as I may I just couldn't explain to him why they did not voluntarily grow these lizards, or why the lizard and his friend did not really care about migrating to California (I wonder where that came from!!??)

Meanwhile the flip flops have been bought and we have been exploring the fantasies of Indian Railways, Spluttering Autos, and bumpy roads! Everything is met with the same aura of surprise and awe. For example on our third train journey, I asked Cheeky to go to the restroom before he went to bed. He was heard loudly declaring to anyone that would care to tune in "You know mommy, in the train when I pee, the pee pee falls on the tracks! That is so eewie!!" Oh well.. I could send him to pick a bone with the railway minister! That should be fun!

The next morning we took a ride in our yellow chariot.. down the beach road in Chennai! It was 6 am and there were people strolling/ jogging and amidst them a couple holding hands and sharing a cup of corn! I looked closely and they seemed to be married! I wonder what the story is.. {wink} The beach beckoned to me that early in the day... try going there in the evening and it drives you away with the stench and the crowd!

Last week, we went on a trip around south India.. and it was there in a small village that Cheeky grew enamored with India.! A few months back we had been to a place in Charlotte, called Lazy 5 Ranch.. as we drove through the park, deers and ostriches, zebras and emus walked up to our car and greeted us while they searched us for food! Now in a small village in south India, the goats and cows arrived at our doorstep in the same quest! And Cheeky just fell in love with the place! A mahout with his elephant had me take a picture and promise to send him a copy! Watch him stand there in all splendor with his dear friend the tusked beauty!

Still later in Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India we experienced the Indian Carosels while I devoured on the yummy mangoes in its raw splendour with just a sprinkling of salt and chilli powder.. mmmm yumm!! The Mango vendor and the peanut vendor pose for the pictures like that is part of their daily routine! Judging by the throngs of tourist, I bet it really is!! As the waves beat up the rocks and the winds blew our hair around, we sat on a ledge and watched rich colorful shops with the bustling melee of people .. we were experiencing the true spirit of India!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

As I don my wings...

We are now officially in the land of the wet bathrooms (gasp!! there is one little irate 4 yr old who is so annoyed and goes around policing/ educating his aunt on how to keep the bathroom dry... aah the worries we have!). Why officially you ask? Because the days of the jet lag (zombie-land) are finally over.. and we have learnt to deal with the rivulets of sweat with a nonchalant dab and the flies and mossies with a casual (almost absentminded) swish of the hand.. However this land has its own surprises for the (not so) little Cheeky... the lizards for one.. for some reason he thinks they are stationary, and wants to show them off looking sneakingly in their hiding place ..behind the couch. But (surprise) they are gone!!

So how was the long trip some might ask (I would have added home, but for now I am so confused on where home is.. sometimes referring to India as my home and sometimes to my actual home in Charlotte.. that I am ready to reserve judgment for now!!). Its no longer a shock/ surprise .. my trip! It is just my very matter of fact expectation that my every trans-Atlantic, across the world trip would be adventurous and exciting! But shouldn't I actually feel frustrated or worried or something? Instead I had an our of the body experience where I looked at myself as I levitated above (who am I? really?)... and I actually had the audacity to laugh!! Just think about it.. once is a mishap, twice is a freak coincidence.. but thrice? Are you kidding me? You would think I would freak out and go berserk.. but not me, I sat stoically and experienced the moment that brought me closer to my God (remember his comic relief?) .. also look at the bright side, I have yet another story to tell!! So the day dawned perfect in Charlotte, contrary to my expectation there were no thunder storms or other freak weather conditions, nor did the alarm malfunction. I actually got to the airport well ahead of time .. the check in happened without mishap, no messed up tickets this time! The line at the security check in was short and my flight was on time too! Except for the case of the breakfast that tasted like sand paper and lumps.. (to those of you who want to know.. it was toast and eggs from SBARRO.. but the eggs were like nothing I have ever tasted.. there were lumps of dry yellow tasteless thing.. wonder what it was!). Anyway, so far so good.. and now I was worried! Whats it going to be this time? The anticipation was killing me...

But I did not have long to wait.. the flight landed a good
45 minutes early at New york (or New york, New york like Cheeky likes to call it.. how fascinating!). This was when I had my deja vu... I had to change terminals to take my next flight.. and my flight was hours and hours away... so I wondered if I should just hang in there and experience the terminal 7.. which was bustling and had some cool fun things to do (read foot massage and shopping options!). But then that niggling in my brain was put to rest by a quenching need for a tryst with fate.. so I left the airport took the air train and went to the international terminal.

And there I was no boarding pass, closed airline counters,
a couple of benches and all the fun stuff to do beyond a security checkpoint (that needed a boarding pass to cross)! A few minutes and a bag of Cheetos later.. Cheeky joined the list. with his incessant questions.. Mommy when will we go in? Mommy when will we go to Chennai? Mommy when will we get on the plane? and the list as you can imagine just wouldn't end!! A few hours later, a tired mommy, a frustrated Cheeky, two hungry tummies and two darned boarding passes crossed the security checkpoint.. and off to the food court.. but of course, Cheeky and mommy wouldn't eat the same thing, or even at the same restaurant ( don't you think gourmet, I am just making fast junk food sound like it was served on a silver platter in a 5 star restaurant!). Anyway, with bags in tow, food bags to carry, not to mention a tray that fit next to nothing and 2 drinks, the credit card was stowed into the pant's pocket and all but forgotten! A hurried lunch and a pouted lip (how dare Mc D give the little dreamer a squirrel toy of all things.. we were anticipating the ice age toys and wanted a mammoth or a saber tooth cat, or a dinosaur.. hell we would have settled for a sloth too.. but Scrat the squirrel? you got to be kidding me.. the pout said!)

Later the Cheeky imp was hurried out of one store after another while the mom and imp took the long hike to the gate. Mommy went to the phone banks to call Daddy and complain and whisked out her credit card, only to find it gone.. a hurried run back to the food court an irate Cheeky in tow, revealed the adventure had not just begun it was in full swing!! But I know better than to be worried, I used CC 2, called M and declared "just cancel my Visa card.. ".. as simple as that? yeah ... who are we kidding.. we knew this would happen right?
A coloring book and a very expensive toy watch later (let the records show that the watch was subsequently broken on the flight)... Cheeky was convinced to let the Mc D people rest assured that there will be no small claims court that would subpoena them!

While on the phone yet again to M to make sure that the CC had been canceled, some rain droplets were observed, discussed and pushed away with a stylish flick of the wrist (as if!).. but those very droplets would
come back to haunt us.. We boarded the international flight, and found our very uncomfortable seats and had a huge discussion of when we should sleep.. while mommy reconciled herself to the fact that it would still be a while the PA spoke up "There is a long queue of flights to take off, this might be a while, there is a lot of chaos because of the thunderstorm" What thunderstorm, that light drizzle you mean? I swear I looked up at the sky and I could see a smile! While I quickly fed Cheeky his dinner but refused to take off his shoes for I was getting ready to disembark and go spend the night in a hotel in New york, when they eventually announce that the flight was canceled, the flight actually took off a good 3 hrs later by which time the imp was well fed and fast asleep. Dinner and a movie later, I closed my eyes to get a shut eye when I heard the little voice "mommy time to get up.. lets play now!" and a few seconds later two little fingers pried my eyes open and a little face pushed up close!! I gave in to the inevitable.. a sleepless 19 hr flight!

Kids and travel never go hand in hand.. kids traveling for long.. tired and hungry will drive any parent crazy
, let alone a inept super mom like me! When faced with that, laughter is the best medicine.. and when that doesn't work, there is always Prozac!

The rest as they say is history.. we did get to Chennai not too worse for wear, and only a few hours delayed
while my dad paced the outside of the airport worried sick, and the airline information system read that the flight was on time!! But now we are here and you better get yourself geared up for stories about eewie play areas (read the bouncing castle at Planet yum, Besant nagar which we visited last night.. while a friend's 3 yr old squeezed among the dozens of kids wying for a spot on the bouncy slide, my 4.5 yr old declared "I am not going there"..while other kids jumped up and down amongst the plastic balls.. my kid declared "eew.. dirty" and quickly put on his shoes again") and scary bugs (read lizards and house flies), not to mention the wet bathrooms! All this from a guy who loves sticky hands and seems to have a consistently gooey face!!

The Elf on the Shelf! Me Too!!

So after years of avoiding the marketing gimmick of "Elf on the Shelf" I finally succumbed to the pressure and popular demand. I ...