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The next story in this month’s writing theme is from Vinaya Bhagat on how she and her child discovered the pleasures of the sea.
Vinaya, in her own words: An IT Professional and a mother of an over active toddler. The hectic pace of work and family commitments leaves very little time for leisure. Writing is an old passion and I make most of the little time I get to lose myself in the lives of imaginary characters.
Two hours off schedule we finally managed to get our son ready and piled into the car for our vacation. This was Athy, our two year old son’s, first vacation, our first vacation as parents. We would have never dared to think of taking Athy with his unpredictable demands out of his and our comfort zones had it not been for the prodding of my hubby’s younger bro. He had convinced us that it would be a great idea for the whole family to go for a vacation when he came to India during Christmas. So here we were, one and all: Athy, my husband and I, my husband’s parents and his brother heading into the unknown terrain of vacation with a toddler.
Looking at the extent of planning and our mountain of luggage anyone would have thought we were heading for the North Pole and not Pondicherry, a mere 300 kilometres away. But we had to be prepared for every eventuality. Athy’s favourite soft toys, to give him comfort in a strange hotel room. Tetra packs of milk, biscuits, dry fruits and other dry snacks and even the strictly rationed chocolates.
We finally made it to Pondicherry with frazzled nerves, eager to crash after the journey. While my husband was helping his parents settle in their room Athy and I followed the bell hop to our room. By the time I tipped the bell hop and turned around my bath-hating son had managed to undress and was busy in the hotel bathroom. By the time I rolled up my jeans and entered the bathroom the toilet paper was a soggy mess, all the faucets within his reach were spouting water at full force and the tiny bottle of hotel shampoo was floating in the toilet. To say he loved staying in a hotel would be an understatement.
I loved Pondicherry with its small town feel and tree lined roads. The French quarter, the food and the ocean promenade, even the touristy coconut shell and marble jewellery. But being so close to the ocean and not able to go in was a bit of a disappointment, so I was eager to move to our next destination, Mahabalipuram, with its ancient stone temples and yes a beach. En route we stopped by the serene pyramid shaped Nataraja temple on a deserted beach near a village. Apart from a lonely old fisherman repairing a net, we were the only people on the beach. The beach was enormous, pristine and litter free. Though Athy was wary of the ocean he ran on the wet sand to the edge of the water after a wave had receded. With me holding on to him he experienced the ocean for the first time: the cold water engulfing us in its salty embrace, the wind that blew our hair every which way, the sand shifting under our feet as the ocean retreated. But the most exciting part for Athy was the discovery of shells and conchs in the sand.
The day after we reached home Athy brought out the plastic bag full of the shells. The fishy smell trapped in the bag for three days made my head swim but Athy willingly thrust his arms in the bag and laid the stinky shells by the fistful on the sofa. That day I had no trouble enticing him in to the bathroom to give a good scrubbing to him and the shells. We still play with those shells that still have a faint whiff of the sea but are fragrant with memories.
*Photo credit: Marvin Kuo (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)
Vinaya has won a diary/writing pad made of handmade paper courtesy Prishth. Congrats Vinaya!
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You’re not alone to feel this way. I think every parent of a toddler remembers the first vacation taken and the butterfly in their tummy. We remember ours like yesterday. It was Mahabalipuram. Our bags stocked with so many unnecessary things… only to learn later to go with the flow. Many vacations have followed since and many more will come, but that remains so very special. The same will be for you too…
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