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Missed out on Berlin’s famous graffiti

One thing that I’d go back for is to see more of the famous graffiti in Berlin. Four days weren’t enough to explore the underside of the city, but here are a few shots of what we saw.

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Did you manage the kids or did they manage you?

Just back from a week out with kids and friends and friends’ kids and I cannot sleep. The images of the week gone by and the to-do list of the week ahead clash inside my head as I toss, turn and finally sit up and start up my Mac to..what else, blog!

Our trip to Dharamsala included two couples and three kids- aged 9, 5 and 4. Quite a bit of our time and patience went into managing the kiddos and so I thought I’d pen down what worked and what didn’t. At the end of it all, I wonder whether it wasn’t the kids that had the fingers on the control buttons all along!

1- Kids are competitive, so comparisons are a no-no, even though tempting at times! Aadyaa and Maayra, the two girls aged 5 and 4, drove us up the wall with their constant competing. They wanted the same number of spoons to play with at each meal, they wanted to eat the same stuff, play the same game on the same ipad at the same time, outdo each other at getting our attention, all the time! All four of us were taking turns at getting irritated with them on Day 1 and 2. By Day 3, this was getting to be hilarious and I started noticing how much we incite them to compete.”Look at her, she is eating so well. Why can’t you?”…..”Look at her, she is siting properly in her chair. You also sit down!”

And so on and so forth. Within ourselves, perhaps, we are competitive too, I thought. And that’s why we need to super super let go if we are calm them down. As the vacation progressed and the holiday chill sobered us down, the girls seemed to calm down as well. Or our management skills improved, perhaps! Just wondering how much of our own stresses, insecurities and inner struggles we pass on to our kiddos unwittingly!

The two who inseparable squabblers having masti time with 'Hansa mumma' who pampered them and scolded them in equal measure!

The two inseparable squabblers having masti time with ‘Hansa mumma’ who pampered them and scolded them in equal measure!

2- Never underestimate children, they are built to amaze! Rahul and me were enamored of the idea of trekking on this vacation. When we mooted the idea, Udai was super enthusiastic, but we were all a little skeptical about whether the girls could trek a lot. Aadyaa had managed a couple of hours of walking earlier this year at Ramgarh, but could we push her a bit more this time? So we set off one morning and decided to see how it goes and we were more than pleasantly surprised. The kids rose to the challenge and loved the adventure, even the youngest of them all, Maayra. Finding new paths to climb up, getting stung by nettles and recovering fast, drinking from a cold mountain stream- all these little thrills served to entice them to go further and further and we ended up successfully completing a half day trek without much fussing and with enough energy to enjoy the rest of the day as well!

Starting uphill from Dharamkot

Starting uphill from Dharamkot. Hansa and the kids walk ahead of us…

Udai was navigator, happy to do extra climbs to check out if we were on the right path. Proud to say he is turning out to be one sure footed trekking enthusiast!

Udai was navigator, happy to do extra climbs to check out if we were on the right path. Proud to say he is turning out to be one sure footed trekking enthusiast!

Conversation is a great way to keep the kiddos going! Mishu and Maayra in full flow

Conversation is a great way to keep the kiddos going! Mishu and Maayra in full flow

Even as she walks, she romances the camera, my little one...

Shot #1 Even as she walks, she romances the camera, my little one…

Shot #2 Peek-a-boo mumma!

Shot #2 Peek-a-boo? No, she’s in the midst of a kathak routine!

Shot # 3 Inspired by her kathak lessons, she danced her way to the top

Shot # 3 And there, she reaches the sam! Inspired by her kathak lessons, she danced her way to the top

Thrilled by the little mountain stream and happy to play in the crystal clear ice-cold water...sheer bliss!

Thrilled by the little mountain stream and happy to play in the crystal clear ice-cold water…sheer bliss!

Little imp all but tumbled into it!

Little imp all but tumbled into it!

Me with the kids...posing...

Me with the kids…posing…

Hey! Look here! Mishu and Hansa caught by my lens

Hey! Look here! Mishu and Hansa caught by my lens

Udai's idea of a little sunbathing break, with Aadyaa happy to join in

Udai’s idea of a little sunbathing break, with Aadyaa happy to join in

Rahul, impatient to restart climbing!

Rahul, impatient to restart climbing!

After we reached the temple, our hilltop destination for the day. Horsing around with papa!

After we reached the temple, our hilltop destination for the day. Horsing around with papa!

And snuggling with mumma too, before we begin the climb down!

And snuggling with mumma too, before we begin the climb down!

3- Don’t shy away from using tech to keep kids busy, too-principled is passe! When you’re on vacation, you’re there for a break. So letting the children have a good go at the ipad once in a while is just fine, in my opinion. They do the same at home as well, or watch television, for a small bit of time everyday. I found that asking kids to share an ipad or iphone actually meant they found ways to cooperate, take turns and share. They taught each other new tricks, they exhibited patience while waiting out their turn.

Busy bees!

Busy bees!

Travel wishlist for the rest of 2012: Whipping up the itch again! July

I am packing for my first trip to Goa this year. It is home for me, so multiple trips do happen during some lucky years! And the ambition to travel is setting the pulses racing again.

Part of the whip is the impending super-excitement of mum’s trek to Kailash Mansarover that begins on the 2nd of August. It’s a super tough trek- some 25 days, really high passes in the Himalayas, into Tibet and around the Lake Kailash. Mum has wanted to do this ever since I remember and she is finally making her dreams come true! Way to go, mum. You are very inspiring.

Yes, so I have come to the realization that having a list of places to visit and vaguely carrying it around in my head isn’t going to take me very far. It would probably be good to break down stuff that I can do each year, depending on the vacation time available, budgets and other variables.

2011 was a great year for travel. I visited Odisha (Puri, Chilika, Bhubaneshwar), Lucknow, Kanpur, Barcelona, Goa (twice, a lucky year when you get to see Ajjee multiple times), Mysore and Bharatpur. 2012 has been good this far- Lucknow, Bangalore, Coorg and Istanbul. But there is scope to push the envelope, seeing as 5-6 day breaks in October and November are staring at me from the school calendar!

My wish-list?

1- Hampi- Have never ever been and am dying to go! A friend posted some tantalizing pics of newly discovered archaelogical ruins there on Facebook today, and my curiosity is super whipped again.

2- Andamans or Bali- With Goa in my blood, can I not be a beach bum and water lover? However, believe it or not, I’ve never done any snorkelling or diving, ever. It’s high time I tried and this one has been on my list for years. PADI certification here I (want to) come!

3- Ajanta and Ellora- This one has to be with mum. We lived in Bombay for years and never went. Karli and Elephanta were the teasers. We need to fulfill that trail.

4- Gujarat circuit- There are many places I want to see in this beautiful state and Amdavad is where I always end up going. Champaner is high on the list, followed by the Rann of Kutch. I hear Navratris are a great time to go.

5- Kota-Bundi-Hadaut region- Now this is home ground. Rahul belongs to this dear little village a couple of hours out of Kota- Jalwara. It is idyllic. Home, its own little decrepit stepwell, own little mini fort, all crumbling now, lots of open space, a couple of seasonal rivers, greenery not at all the Rajasthan tourists imagine, but a little piece of rural beauty. Strangely enough, we end up visiting for weddings and other rituals, but never really sight-see. So, with Kota as base, an exploration of the Hadaut region is long overdue. Hoping to convince the family to find a slot this year!

 

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