This article is part of the series I wrote on Women’s Web for Plantation Trails Tata Coffee after enjoying a rather pleasant stay at the plantation bungalow in Coorg.
A stark difference between the housing societies of a decade earlier, and the colonies of today is the number of children playing outside. One might see children going to tennis classes, dance classes and even the gym, but it is becoming a rare sight to see a kid play using his or her imagination and free will. The merits of unstructured play over structured play have been debated a number of times and there are parents in both camps, but as a new parent, I hope that more kids are encouraged to play outdoors and just be themselves.
Travel is a great way to introduce a child to the outdoors. In my experience, the earlier you introduce travel to a child, the easier journeys become as they grow older. When children travel to new places, they learn that the world is a very diverse place, and not limited to the world they see around themselves. Read further
A couple of years back; I was on one of my first International trips. The lady sitting next to me was wearing a white suit which was well cut and a white hat. I was pretty impressed with the way she looked and carried herself, I wished I could look like her. Consecutively, I tried to amp up my style while traveling but all my efforts to emulate her were pretty much in vain. I tried wearing boots but was fed up of having to remove them at every security check. I then experimented with some necklaces with had a similar outcome.
After a lot of trial and error,I think I am finally onto something which I can safely call my travel style.It happens to be printed cotton pants and a longish cotton top! This attire is comfortable, doesn’t ride up or down without my permission and dries up pretty fast in case of a toddler related accident. I have a couple of variants of this combination in dark colors because dark colors don’t show baby spit up as much. I sometimes team it up with a jacket, if we were going some place cold. It ensures that I don’t land and freeze to death in case the airline forgot my baggage.
When traveling with a kid; surviving the trip takes precedence to looking stylish. When my baby was younger, I preferred wearing him inside a cotton wrap so that I had my hands free to tug luggage. I had this amazing K-Tan wrap that would let me wear the baby close and comfortably. It was also very easy to wear/wrap which is must while traveling with a baby. Here is how I looked at airports when I traveled alone with my baby; I would be in my cotton pants and shirt, I would have a baby tied in front of me, a back pack on my back with my laptop that could not go in check in baggage and a largish diaper bag with necessities for the baby.
The diaper bag though helpful during long trips, was a cause of concern for my friends and relatives as we always looked like we were going to shift into their homes instead of just visiting. But it held things that I could not be parted with at the time, like my nursing cover, diapers, extra food, extra clothes, multiples of wipes because babies don’t magically stay clean. Now my diaper bag has been retired because my baby is a toddler now and the sling wrap been tucked away into a corner in the cupboard. Traveling with a kid requires a lot of planning but the more one travels it starts becoming easier.
Now that my kid is at an age when he can run around at the airport like on of those Duracell bunnies, I kind of miss our K-Tan wrap days. Very few airports/train/bus stations are truly baby friendly and China makes the list of baby friendly airports. Airports in China had play areas for toddlers, luggage carts that looked like cars that they can ride on and special seats for babies/kids inside the toilet so that moms can take a leak without having to hold the kid. To be fair most big airports these days have started having baby changing stations and feeding rooms which is great. But I wish more airports would follow China’s example and be a little more thoughtful. Till then I will have to continue choosing function over fashion when dressing for travel.
What is your Name? Is the first question that we learn the answer for. The name that we so proudly bear is often decided by other people. We could be named by the toss of a coin or some other such arbitrary method. Each culture, country and civilization has devised its own tried and tested methodology.
In India most often we are named on the whims of a holy man who dreams up starting letters for the name of the lucky baby. If he comes up with difficult sounds like Dhh, Ghh or zhu then tough luck. Sometimes these holy men are also responsible adding the extra K’s and I’s in names of struggling business men, wannabe actors and new serials. Indians also believe in giving a meaningful and profound name to the child. So searching for a profound name which begins with Zhu could be quite a task.
Down south a new and cool method for naming a kid is by smashing together the names of the parents and seeing what wonderful sounds it makes. So a Lisa and Joseph will name their eldest Lijo and the younger one could be Joli. In the north of India the names given to children are most often tried and tested and safe names like Neha, Govind and Pooja. It is the nick names like Pappu, Gotiya and Potty (true story) that become cause for heart burn as an adult. Intelligent folks who have deep understanding of science and molecular matters come up with names like Proton, Neutron and Electron (again true story). There are parents who could not decide on one name for their progeny and kids are stuck with multiple names on their passport application form.
The Balinese in Indonesia simplified the whole process and developed a fool proof method based on the order of the birth. All first born irrespective of gender are named Watan, Gede or Putu. The second born are named Made or Kedek . The children born third are named Nyoman or Komang and the fourth born is called Ketut. So if you come across sign boards in Bali claiming ‘I Made John’ or ‘ I Made Govind’ do not mistake it as a proclamation of someone making a John or a Govind, it just happens to be someone’s name plate.
In the Christian world kids are most often named after a saint or a biblical character, second only to being named after a grandfather or a beloved aunt. If the same name is to be used in each generation then adding a roman numerical or Jr is the way to go. Most Chinese parents in an attempt to assimilate with the evolving global economy give two names to the children. One is a traditional Chinese name like Zhu and the other name could be an anglicized and hyphenated John.
While naming a kid, most considerate parents also check how the name sounds in other popular languages or if there is scope of twisting a good well intentioned name in such a manner that their child gets teased for life. The scene from Life of Pi comes to mind where a poor but determined Piscine Molitor Patel aka Pissing goes on to create school history by writing the value of Pi all in an attempt to in-corrupt his name.
Some parents name their children after popular actors, politicians or any name that is the flavour of the month. So depending on the generation we have seen waves of Indira, Rajiv, Rahul, and Aishwarya. Some parents in a bid to make the kid famous use the name with the surname and all, so you could possibly meet little Indira Gandhi Chandrasekharan on the swing set one day throwing a tantrum. Google has slowly taken over the mantle when it comes to naming kids and strangely it seems to be throwing out similar unique names such as Vivaan and Vihaan to all new google searching parents. What is up with that or am I just having a case of big corporation paranoia?
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I was the older of two kids and grew up with the label of being mature, quiet and reserved. My younger brother grew up with the label of being naughty, a maverick and a lone fox (because of his desire of going exploring onto the street, under cars, sometimes cows on his own). Now when I see my one and half year old grow and learn. I realize he is copying me and considers whatever I do fun. When I cook he loves to play with the pots and pans hence once cooking is done the counter and the floor both are a mess. He loves to pretend to be watering plants like I do. The other day he insisted on taking out clothes from his cupboard and laying them on the bed as I was folding clothes from the hamper and putting them on the bed. So after this process we had a pile of folded clothes and a fresh pile of baby clothes to be folded. He was very pleased with himself that day for having helped.
During Holi, I took my kid to the play area in the building where he watched all the older kids run, scream, hop and skip while playing with colors. He was so excited that day that the kid who was just learning to walk insisted on skipping that day. The day he spent some time with my niece his naughty quotient went up a few points because now he had a new role model to emulate. As the first child, they see the parents doing work and other things around the house and that is what they observe and copy. From things like how to wear clothes, pick a glass, strum a guitar or wearing shoes. All the activities my son does are extensions of what he sees me, hubby and the other grown-ups doing. Maybe that is where the concept that the elder one is mature comes about. The younger one has a step up as he/ she has an older sibling to learn all the child play and naughtiness from.
We cannot discount the fact that the older kid has more parental attention as a baby and the younger one soon learns to make demands. Some mothers can say that the older kid becomes more responsible because of the younger one and also because the parents will start giving the older child more responsibilities once the second one comes around. Maybe I am mature because of my brother and my brother is naughty because of me. This is a thought that I had recently when I observed my friend’s two children at play. I on the other hand have one kid and am in the process of wondering how people manage with two kids. Till recently I wondered why new mothers don’t like people ringing the doorbell in the evening, after my baby this mystery has been solved.