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Those little masters of welcome positivity

How children easily keep their cool in the face of sudden difficulties, even filling hard times with cheery fun.

If you are someone like me, planning a vacation would be lot easier than visiting grandparents. First, because your parenting style comes under deep scrutiny from relatives far and wide; in my case, my mother would be ready with a detailed critique on my parenting skills. Second, it may involve travelling on a long-haul flight with kids without your spouse or domestic help. Third, as kids are away from friends and their daily routine, you have to get creative to channel their energy in a positive way.



Which leads to my last point, on predictability and control. As you are away from your comfort zone you have less influence on the day’s events and their impact on you and the kids. Despite the above, for me it was a case of “India Calling”, and hence I decided to take the plunge and bid farewell to sunny Singapore for two months.



The first stop, for a month, was Delhi where I was born and my mother still lives. My relationship with my mum is akin to a dormant volcano — normal at the surface but you never know when the simmering emotions will cause an outpour! The next stop planned was Chennai. Here I expected it to be smooth-sailing given that my mum-in-law is in tune with my kids’ interests. Little did I know the weather gods had a trick up their sleeve.



After a surprisingly pleasant flight with the kids, we landed in Delhi; and as soon as I stepped out, I was greeted by dense haze. Unlike Singapore, Delhi is apparently covered with haze year-round with PSI figures routinely touching 300-plus and the masses remain oblivious to the health risks it poses. My brain went into fight or flight mode. And when my youngest one came down with an infection and had terrible coughing episodes, I started looking for the escape hatch to advance my Chennai trip. But mum’s love prevailed; despite the initial hiccups we had a glorious time in Delhi.



It started with a road trip to a nearby hill town where my kids got a chance to be with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — during their interactions they heard stories of my childhood. And with my cousins kids, they had a riot with episodes of crazy laughter and fun. In Singapore, I have very little success in getting them to converse in Hindi, my mother tongue. In contrast, they naturally started responding in Hindi while playing street football in Delhi, despite having to look out for oncoming traffic. They also learnt to use the humble squatting pan which is a yogic way to answer nature’s call and strengthens leg muscles. Being a yoga mum, I was so proud. Now, we were set for the next leg of our trip — Chennai.



We landed in Chennai on a fateful day: December 1, 2015. Statistics say the rainfall received that day broke a 100-year record. Soon after we landed, the airport was closed as the runway was getting flooded. There were scenes of utter chaos — hundreds of passengers stranded at the airport and thousands of vehicles left on the roads, the drivers having been forced to leave them behind as traffic came to a standstill. What used to be a 30-minute drive from the airport to mum-in-law’s place became a gruelling six-hour journey.



The next morning, the power supply went off and ironically, though the city was drowning, we had no usable water as the electric motors could not operate. After three days without power supply or mobile connectivity, we decided to move out of Chennai as we were faced with scarcities of bottled water and milk, among other stuff. I was upset with the growing number of issues I had to face, as this was clearly not my idea of a holiday.



While I was hyperventilating, I was surprised to see my kids bright and sunny. The dark hours did not bother them much — to them, eating candle-light dinners was fun, finding their way around in dark was spooky, and entertaining their little cousin sans television/toys/books was engaging.



Clearly, my trip was not all fun and did not go as planned. However, as I look back on the trials and tribulations I faced, I realise I have a lot to learn from my little spiritual masters on positivity and happiness. Their curiosity regarding the flooding crises made me empathise with those who were worse off than we were. There is also something mystical about India; in its own way, it makes me realise my prejudices and fears. Together, they challenge me to confront my fears and reach my higher self. I’m still a work-in-progress, but just when I get too comfortable in Singapore, there is always another India trip!



nidsdin@gmail.com



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Printable version | Mar 25, 2020 9:07:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/those-little-masters-of-welcome-positivity/article8433760.ece

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