I belong to Ahmedabad, and though the city has earned a bad reputation for its oppressive heat, I love it and will have it no other way. So, in this summer vacation, when we had no plans of travelling to the cooler climes, I decided to take my daughter to my mother’s house in good ole ‘hot’ Ahmedabad. Though my Mumbai friends were concerned about its temperature reaching almost 50 degrees, I was confident that my daughter and I would have a gala time. After all, mother’s house is heaven, wherever it is.
My daughter’s fun holiday started the moment she waved her dad off from the large windows of Shatabdi Express. She felt like a princess as the train canteen staff got one food item for her after another. Being the only child in the coach, she was pampered by all and sundry. We did manage to read and colour in the long journey.
Next, it was her nani house where her cousins were awaiting her desperately. Kids played under the hot sun (I wonder, how they like to stay outdoors and don’t feel hot) the whole day. They played (one of her cousins is her age) and would end up fighting in an instant (though they also made up the very next second; all forgotten and forgiven). There were elder kids who made the younger ones play various games and kept them busy. Every evening, we took the kids to various clubs and parks where they would enjoy rides and play on the green lawn.
The elder kids even organized a fancy dress show, where they wrote a play and assigned roles to everyone. They enacted a shorter and slightly altered version of ‘ The Sleeping Beauty’. The fun part was creating fairy wings, tiaras and crowns, wands, etc. out of cardboard, chart paper, glitter paper and aluminium foil. So all of us including children stayed wake till late to make them. Someone cut the wings, someone made the tiaras, while the younger ones stuck stones and stars on the props. And, finally they put up a spectacular show. No one stumbled on the make-shift stage (of old cotton mattresses) or forgot their dialogues. The audience consisted of the elder members of the family, a few neighbours and friends. And the participants earned ice lollies and a visit to the local fair for a mindblowing performance.
We visited the riverfront too – the famous and beautiful Sabarmati River front. Though it’s been quite a few months since it’s been thrown open to the public, it was the first time I visited it. The place was so calm..and gave a proud view of the skyline of Ahmedabad. Kids loved the boat ride and rides in the local fair. I even took the kids for the latest Angry Birds movie which they enjoyed thoroughly.
Nani’s house is special – so is dadi’s. And my daughter has the best of both the worlds. Ahmedabad is where her dadi stays too. My daughter flitted between the two houses and got pampered thoroughly. Her every wish was their command. So she got a heapful of presents, new clothes, toys, chocolates and what nots. Fifteen days into her stay and she was so used to this lifestyle that she was all teary-eyed at the idea of coming back to Mumbai.
She bid her cousins goodbye with a heavy heart. On the train journey, she was all subdued.
“I wanted to stay in Ahmedabad only.” She announced. “It was so much fun. Mumbai is boring.”
“Fun is fun only when it is not a routine. If you start living in Ahmedabad all the time, you might find it like Mumbai only after a few days.” I explained.
She didn’t look convinced. “You enjoyed Ahmedabad so much because all your cousins were there at the same time. Once the schools start, they will all go back to their home. It’s fun because of family, if they are not there, there is nothing fun in Ahmedabad.”
She nodded as if she understood. Though I doubt it.
“When we will come again?” was her next reply.
“In your Diwali vacation.” I replied.
“But that looks very far,” she complained.
“Yes, it is. But, meanwhile you can have fun with your friends in Mumbai.” A smile lit her face at the mention of her friends…she had forgotten all about them during her stay in Ahmedabad, and now they all came racing back in her mind.
She met her friends the next day upon her return and announced, “I have come back. I had so much fun in Ahmedabad. But now, I will have fun with you too!”
It was a good decision for me to take her to Ahmedabad. She is at a right age to understand, that apart from friends, family matters too. For nuclear families like us, it’s vital that children understand the importance of family and their role in shaping their childhood. No childhood is complete without being fed (sometimes forcibly so) by dadi-nani, shenanigans with cousins and asking for masis-mamas for toys/candies. And summer holidays give that opportunity – to explore the various dimensions of childhood. It helps kids in providing them a khuljaaye bachpan.