Three weeks to go before my children start their summer holidays and I am trying to think up of ways to keep them usefully occupied. Come summer, we usually head to Bangalore (or Bengaluru to be politically correct) where my parents live. It’s a blissful fortnight of siestas, long walks and far too much coffee as I mull over the years gone by with my oldest friend.
This year those plans have come undone for various reasons so I have five whole weeks in Mumbai with two, very restless kids. Let me clarify – I am not one of those moms who believe my children have to be kept busy through the day. I am all for doing nothing. In fact come to think of it ‘nothing’ pretty much characterized all my summer holidays growing up. I don’t recall my parents spending a single minute thinking about what to do with me. Even though I was among those single kids who we are now told is lonely.
I would spend long hours in the garden, collecting stones, plucking mangoes and berries, playing raja rani, etc. etc. Don’t ask me what raja rani involved. Essentially we would take turns to order the others to sing a song or dance as punishment for some imaginary offences. Thanks to my father’s brief stints in remote Air Force stations we had plenty of open sky and huge grounds to flop about in. Our parents would barely see us through the day. Only at meal times.
I vividly remember one hot summer afternoon in Wadsar, Gujarat. We were out playing as usual when a group of villagers came by selling several litres of milk. Now you have to understand that Wadsar in those days was the absolute boondocks, a no-man’s land. For every little thing we would have to drive several kilometres into Ahmedabad on some lousy roads. Vegetables, milk, fruits, everything was carefully rationed. To have fresh milk at your doorstep was a dream come true. We woke up our slumbering mothers and whipped up such excitement that everyone bought the milk without a second thought. Much later did we discover it was camel’s milk. No one wanted to risk drinking it so I am afraid it probably went down the drain.
But those days and those open spaces have disappeared. All my daughters’ friends are attending summer camps. So here I am trawling through brochures that promise everything from better EQ to improved math skills. Which one should I pick… Buzzing Bees or City Sprouts..hmmm