Edited to add: You guys have GOT to vote for me!!! Go on, I’m losing my lead!
Six years down and the idea of having an anniversary wasn’t something we relished. This quarter of the year is rather full of parties around here. March is the Bean’s birthday, April is our anniversary, May is the Brat’s birthday and June is the OA’s. So we decided to take a short break and off to Corbett we went. My parents were planning to drive up to Delhi to spend time with us and we thought it was perfect. An extra set of hands to help with the kids, a holiday, as well as time with family – just perfect. Also rather appropriate because if it weren’t for my parents solidly standing by us we may not have got married.
It was a glorious trip despite the heat and the bad roads in patches. The Bean decided to make my words come back to bite me in the butt and clung to me like a limpet. Oh she sat in my lap and grinned at her grandparents, and sang songs, recited nursery rhymes, performed somersaults, whistled – did all sorts, but just refused to go to their laps. Or her beloved father’s either. Which meant that my poor legs got no break. And I chanced upon a good plan. Each morning before she woke up, I’d sleepily get up and dump her in G’pa-Nani’s room and she’d wake up between them smiling, happy to have her teeth brushed and ready to go off for a walk with them. So no, she hadn’t completely lost it or got clingy – I just happened to be her preferred mode of transport if I was around. If I wasn’t, she didnt ask for me and didn’t trouble either.
The Brat – what can I say about the Brat. He just turned so good on the trip, it’s like a magic button was turned off and his terrible twos came to end, around ten days before he turned four. The OA and I watched our son with pride shining in our eyes as he obediently sat where he was told, ate when he was told, slept when it was time and played and entertained himself without causing any damage. It’s a standing joke that the Brat was such an easy baby that he fooled us into having a second one. That we should have quit while we were ahead and not messed with the original blueprint! But then came the terrible twos and he gave us endless trouble and now all of a sudden one bright morning, it was just over.
A little thought however and we realised that it was nothing but attention. We may not have been talking to the kids the entire trip, but we were in the close confines of a car, sitting, chatting, singing loudly, having a good time – and the Brat felt no need to do anything naughty. He was just so content. Or maybe it’s just foolish me trying to explain away the growing discomfort as my little Brat grows up.
We spent a blissful two days walking by the riverside, sipping beer by the pool and the OA and I sat weaving impossible dreams of running away from work and living on a resort forever! The resort we picked wasn’t the poshest but had the warmest service I’ve ever experienced. We got a little two storey cottage that overlooked the pool on one side and the river on the other side. A little drawing, dining and kitchen on the ground floor
– and a bedroom, toilet, dressing area – leading to a little kids’ room with twin beds!
Cane furniture on the verandah with a hammock and a jackfruit tree laden with fruit. Could anything be more homely and comfortable?
The little arch leading into our garden and cottage….
Some of the most beautiful pictures were of grandpa taking his grandson along the river for a walk. Swinging sticks and discussing important issues like why the big fish never bite bait and how to tell the difference between horses and donkeys – all more important than world peace no doubt. And grandma getting into a big rubber tube to convince the Bean to get out of the little floating boat and into a tube. At this point I must make a note of how awesome nani was looking in a lovely salmon pink swimsuit that wrapped around and tied at her waist, with a gorgeous chiffon beach wrap – black with multicoloured hollyhocks in a sort of impressionist print growing up the hem. Me – I had a similar wrap-around swimsuit, tying up at my waist, in a rich purple.
Mama and Bean in the pool..
The Brat runs around the pool, but refuses to get in after freezing his skinny butt off.
Bean pulled out of the pool and wrapped into a thick towel, playing with leaves and raw mangoes, hidden under Mama’s hat.
Mornings were early and we did an elephant safari and a jeep safari. At 4.30 am the OA woke me with a cup of tea and we dressed the kids in their sleep. They cracked open an eyelid, glared at us and went back to sleep. At some point in the jeep, speeding towards the point where we were to meet the elephant, they woke up.
Kids are like puppies. Let them stick their heads out and get the breeze in the hair and they’ll behave for a while.
G’pa and his G’son – looking out for monkeys.
The Bean saw the elephant and was overjoyed. She wanted to pat it, kiss it and in short, stuff it in her suitcase and take it home. Sitting atop a gently swaying elephant with a sleepy two year old is now on my list of avoidables. Branches poked us in the eyes, brambles scratched us, the kids wanted water to drink and we dropped a couple of things along the way – fortunately we didn’t drop any of the kids. We saw spotted deer, sambar, jungle fowl, and peacocks, but no tigers. I think tigers within a 50 km radius were warned off by the little baby voice that squealed every few minutes – ‘Mamma, look Bambi!! Come here, Bambi, I want to shake your hand. Mamma – I want to hello to [sic] Bambi.’ It’s a good thing we weren’t with any strangers on the safari. They’d have hated us and our noisy brat – the bean of course.
We sighed and gave up all hope of seeing anything other than butterflies. The Brat was quiet as a mouse and watcful. My parents haven’t lost their Munnar eye-for-wildlife and picked up the animals way faster than the OA and me. Frankly I didn’t really care for seeing the tiger. I just wanted to relive the experience of being out in the wild. My childhood memories are full of barking deer, sambar, bluebull, wild boar and elephants. I can never forget the night my mum and I stood in the nursery while an elephant uprooted and ate up her entire vegetable patch – my mom hopping mad. I say that elephant only got away that night because my dad held my mom back. Hell hath no fury like a woman who loses her crop of strawberries and cabbage to a wild elephant.
And don’t ask for pictures. This was one of the few times we wanted to live in the moment and not adjust camera settings. Besides you try sitting atop a rocking elephant with a sleeping baby in your arms, pushing brambles and branches out of her face, keeping a keen eye out for animals as well as giving your elder child sips of water and I’ll see how many hands you have left free to hold a camera.
It was also the end of innocence with the Brat picking up a bottle of Fanta and knocking it back in 30 seconds flat. So much for avoiding aerated drinks all these years. He’s now a convert.
Another pleasant surprise was an old family friend who happened to be there. He was the one who booked the OA and me into a lovely old hotel in Manali for our honeymoon and it seemed apt that he was in Corbett the very weekend that we were. His wry sense of humour had us in splits and he surprised us with a bouquet and a black forest cake in the middle of the jungle. It was with a lot of regret that we drove home on Sunday afternoon. My knee gave me a little trouble and a painkiller for the first time since October sorted that out. But I felt as good as new and for anyone who cares to know – the Nivea kids Sunblock is amazingly effective. I burn easily and this kept me safe despite hours of lazily floating around in the freezing pool, with the burning sun overhead.
The OA and I have realised that these short breaks every couple of months rejuvenate us alot more than a two week vacation somewhere. We only tend to get in each other’s nerves and snap! Anyway, I’m so glad we chose to celebrate with a break in the jungle. Six years and two school going kids later, it’s unlikely that anyone will think of this as a very unconventional life, but speaking for the two of us… we’ve had a wild time!!!