Madras – check

So you guys already know that I was in Madras (you’ll have to batter me to death with a shovel before I call it Chennai ) for X’mas. The kids had a blast. It started like this. I sat up in bed one morning and told the OA – I want to go to the beach. He looked at the time on his phone on the bedside table, blinked and said “It’s 7 am. I have to be at work in two hours. Not possible.”  Funny guy.

Anyway, I had only one agenda. I wanted my kids to spend two days in the sun without getting up to eat, bathe, drink, sleep, anything. I wanted, in my own words that the OA kept reminding me of – “to let the kids go out on the beach when they wake up, without even brushing their teeth.”

And so we decided to spend X’mas with my dad’s side of the family and two days in a resort in Pondicheri. It was a blast. Being the only grandkids on that side of the family they had 3 extra sets of Thatha-Paatis to spoil them. And one great grandmother who got them stockings full of stuff. I was rather touched by one Thatha-Paati who hunted down a set of dinosaurs for the Brat and the Maama who got the Bean her nth elephant.

Anyway lets start at the beginning. We took a train. Yes, all the way to Madras. I have lost count of the number of people who gasped in horror at the thought of being on the train for two nights with two kids aged 3 and 5!! It was a third AC coach and we didn’t get tickets together (yes, we’re disorganised last minute bookers) and spent the first half of the journey begging people to exchange with us since we have two kids with us. A stuck up newly wed couple refused to even shift up and let us sit on our own damn seats. I was quite annoyed. Finally a rather overweight middle aged lady offered us her lower berth and took our top berth. I was wearing my old college sweatshirt and jeans, and she thought I was in college with her daughter. I pointed out that I was actually mother of two and was only looking for a lower berth since the kids need to be taken to the loo at night etc. I didn’t want to take it from her since I realised it was going to be troublesome for her. But she saw the kids and insisted that she help. I was touched.

This is the India and the travelling by train that I know.  The very desi tolerance. People are willing to ‘adjust’, share their meals, share their life story. It’s on flights that you meet cranky young people who want to send kids off to another planet.  Since when did train travellers get so uptight, cranky and unwilling to cooperate? When you’re travelling together for two nights and literally sitting and sleeping on top of each other, its best to start off on a good note. And the more I look around and find young people inconsiderate to old people and children, the more I feel the anger rise within. Who are these creatures? Do they imagine that they were never young and will never grow old?

Anyway, I gave it some time and whispered to the parents to shut up and not speak a word of Tamil or Bengali. We stuck to English and Hindi and man, we had a great time and I got my revenge. The couple didn’t really bitch about us too much, but they did end up saying some x-rated stuff that had my parents and me turning purple. A 92 year old man was travelling with us and it broke my heart. His hands shook so much that he spilled food on his clothes. The young couple and he were on the same side and I am shocked by how self absorbed and selfish people can be. This young guy and his wife just slept and held hands and didn’t bother to often pass the food that the waiters brought for him. At night the old man struggled with his bed and couldn’t hold his sheets steady enough to lay out, while the couple watched – My ma (herself in her 50s) and my dad, got up and began to help while the young couple still only looked on, bored. I lost my patience.

The OA and I were settling the kids into their berths and I snapped at her – “Why should older people do it when there are younger people in the train?”  We dumped the kids and made the bed in two minutes flat. We tucked the old man in, the blanket around his feet, arranged his bottle of water and were done in two minutes. He kept wanting to pull out his suitcase and take out stuff and then put it back. Again, the young couple who were sitting by his side, sat there and blankly watched his shaking hands struggle with the suitcase. The OA and I were across the corridor, watching with growing annoyance. Then my dad who is almost 60, went down on his knees to help, and still the plump, balding young man sat holding hands with wife and whispering under his moustache, ignoring all the older people struggling. These people seem to have no manners. As my grandmother used to say – “They weren’t brought up – they were dragged up.” At least 10 times I loudly said during the journey, “Leave it to ma/dad. Why do you need to do it when there are so many young people in the compartment?” Clearly they were too thick for hints and insults.

To begin with, I can’t get over the fact that the old man’s family sent him off all by himself. F**king imbeciles. His mobile ran out of charge, he couldn’t call his family. The Rajdhani engine packed up, our train was left on the tracks for hours till another engine came, the meals couldn’t be put on the train because it was stranded in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately we had fruit and biscuits for the kids which I offered the old man and refused to even offer the selfish young couple even while my parents glared at me and my rage. What would he have done if there were only similar other self absorbed, selfish people who didn’t think once of offering to get the old man a cup of tea or help with charging his mobile?

At some point on the second day my dad called his mum and while speaking to her, to tell her that the train was late, slipped into Tamil. Man, I wish I had a camera to record the faces around us. The OA choked on his laughter and finally had to head to the loo to stop laughing. Yes, I’m evil that way.

The kids, were as good as gold. In all the engine breakdown, no food, anal and selfish co-passengers, I am glad they were, because we were quite worried. We only reached Madras at 2 am and by the time we reached my grandma’s place it was 4 am. Right through it I heard no complaints, no whining, no misbehaviour. They were a little bored but I think it’s because we as parents have become so strict. We didn’t let them go chat with other passengers and the windows are sealed unlike in our time when you sat and enjoyed the breeze in your hair. I carried books, crayons and some games and we played all the way. Eventually other kids from the compartment joined us and we had quite a party.

I think the best compliment I received and one I will carry to my grave, was from my mother. I sent the OA off to read on the top berth and kept entertaining the kids and she suddenly said -‘ You’re a very good mother, you know. I’d never have done this. I would have left you two to entertain yourselves.’

I was shocked. You know how mothers are – nothing you do is ever good enough for their precious grandchildren. I’ve even written long posts on the old blog about how she was driving me nuts. I am going to cherish that compliment because it came to me, not as a mother to her daughter, but from one mother to another, a simple observation. I still play it back in my mind and it makes me feel warm on a cold night.

Madras was a blast. The kids wandered around all day like little ragamuffins on the farm. Sitting for hours and watching a turkey, playing with dogs, terrifying me by running around near the 5-6 wells, strolling down the road with sticks, drawing patterns in the mud. They thumped on the piano all day while my parents moaned and told them to shut up, only to have the greatgrandma and other thatha-paatis tell them to shut up because they were lucky enough to have grandchildren. They were slipped chocolates slyly and they’d come running to me and say – Mama, X or Y thatha gave me this, can I have it?

The family was shocked and finally began to teach them to greet me with Heil Hitler and tell people that they lived on a POW camp. What can I say, the family loves me. Anyhow, I have to write this down in case I forget it when they’re teens and drive me crazy, but the kids were brilliant. We slept at odd hours, woke at odd hours, partied through the night, dragged them from homes, to shops, to parties, to ..well everywhere and they took it all without a word. Slept anywhere, ate everything, didn’t forget to say Please and Thank you and in general did me proud.

I miss our Madras friends though. They’re a great bunch of fun people. Artists, actors, musicians, chefs.. you name it. And we took the Brat and Bean to one of their homes for a party and all these people were just so good with them. It’s amazing how even those who didn’t have kids had put thought into what to get them – one of them brought a lovely bunch of colour pencils made from wood from sustainably managed forests and another got them some memory games. So thoughtful, so much fun. And lots of chocolate (promptly appropriated by the OA). The thing with people who don’t have kids but like kids, is that they treat you very differently from the way other parents do, I notice. They actually held intelligent conversations and had new perspectives while I looked on in awe.

Some were smoking and my instinct was to say – “Baby, don’t go near Uncle/Aunty when they are smoking.”  But I stopped myself. No one will die of ten minutes of smoke exposure and I’m a little unsure of this passive smoking hysteria. We live in the NCR. In a day they inhale more than they will in a year around smoking friends. And I’d just end up denying them perhaps one of the most interesting conversations they’ve had in months. If the kids have to accuse me of anything when they grow up, I’d rather it be passive smoking than unimaginative babytalk and the same damn boring ideas everyday. And most of all, I hate the hysteria around smokers (There, that should bring in the trolls, been too peaceful around here). Also, do read this piece by Double Dolphin – he’s made the statutory warnings so I don’t need to.

Anyway, getting back to the point, we had a blast. New Year’s Eve was spent on the ECR, dancing the night away at a farm/beach house party. In case you’re interested, I wore a wine coloured corset-ish top and black jeans – and flats! I was most envious of the young girls in high heels until I saw them all slip out of them within the first hour. Long live flats! We danced but the music was too house for us. I think the OA and I should stick to retro nights. And this one is a biggie, the OA was brilliant as ever, but damnit, I think his steps need to be updated. For the first time I saw younger boys exhibiting brilliant new moves that the OA didn’t have. I told him and he glared at me 😀 Time to upgrade to version 2.0.

Anyhow, the kids did the beach, the croc bank, the prawns, the fish and everything else I could think of. For two days we stayed in town in my Uncle and Aunt’s place. They were travelling and the OA and I and the kids stayed at their place for convenience. For the first time I loved apartment living. Their place is done up like an Apartment Therapy joint. Very slick, very sleek and very cosy. It felt like home, the OA getting up and making tea each morning, the kids in the next room, lying in bed and having late breakfasts, watching the kids play in the play area that was right out of the window while I sat there with a cup of coffee. Simply one of the best times of my life. Easy to tidy up, lock up and get going. I’ve told the OA I want to move out of this great big house into a tiny place, sack all the help and do everything myself!

Anyway, the trip back we got 2nd AC tickets and so the trip was more comfortable. My parents headed back to Allahabad separately and the kids and OA and I had a fairly nice time. The kids were busy with all their X’mas gifts. We got into cold foggy NCR and my knees finally gave up after all the running, playing with the kids and carrying luggage. The kids are still asking for the Thathas and Paatis and I am slowly getting convinced that maybe moving there might be the thing to do!

The Brat and Bean got to do up two trees this year. The Bean is hanging the angel on top. The guy holding her is my youngest cousin. He was amazing with the kids. He’d have them entertained for hours, would wash their mucky hands, tell them stuff, save them if I put them in a corner and generally just became their favourite person. This might be par for the course for any regular 23 year old Maama who sees the kids all the time, but it’s so unexpected from someone who sees them once in almost two years. I was touched beyond belief.

So this is my cousin’s husband teaching the Bean how to use a remote controlled digger. The cousin has been hinting that they should have kids and he is quite nervous about it. And then the Bean took over the cars and diggers and he was very tickled by the thought of having a cool daughter. I think there should be a cheque in the mail for me, soon.

The Brat and Bean collaborate on their X’mas gifts. Within minutes her ‘mammoth’ was attacked and eaten by dinosaurs.

In spite of a very poor role model, the Bean takes her beach set and decides to ‘cook’ a pudding in her bucket. Ugh.

OA and brats check out the crocs. We did offer to feed the Bean to the crocs but the child is made of strong stuff. She just grinned in my face and said – ‘No, you wouldn’t. You love me and you would miss me. ‘  Yeah, well there is that too. Nani makes the most of Madras and has mallipoo in her hair inspite of a couple of people pointing out that they didn’t really go with her tights and tunic.

The OA educates them on the map. On an aside, the OA and I have hunted in a lot of stores and can’t find a bloody globe anywhere. The only thing I found was a jigsaw puzzle. Gah. What is the world coming to and how does one introduce their children to such things anymore?

The two best friends – G’pa and the Brat, discuss the finer points of reptiles. *shudder* On the other hand, I’m going to send him back here in his teens to spend the summer and do a summer job. Good idea, na?

G’pa wanted the privilege of stepping into the sea with his grandchildren, alone. And he got it. The OA entered 15 minutes later.

Me? This is as far as I ventured. It was a chilly day and even the kids were turning blue. I kept pulling them out and drying them up, saying enough. But they’d run back in and I’d have to find another set of clothes. Painful!

At one point the Brat got carried away by a big wave and the OA reached out and caught him – so he was basically afloat on a huge wave, the OA holding one hand. When he came down, he hugged his father and said – “Thank you, dada, you saved my life.” The OA laughed and cried at once. Honestly, this little Brat of ours is the gentlest soul I’ve ever encountered.


118 thoughts on “Madras – check

  1. this was as much fun a read as Tambi’s surprise visit to Allahabad! and those young find a lot of them on the trains now a days MM, selfish weirdos 😦

  2. clearly, you must return every year (or more often than that). you took a train? WOW! next time i will catch you for longer than 5 mins!!

  3. YEY to Madras and all the fun ppl here. Oh, BTW I have moved to Madras..All your Nani-Nana stories made me want my Implet to live this life too. I’d rather have him running behind ants, dogs, cows and elephants than running away from them wondering how they moved from Paper to 3D. So next time you are in let us Madraswasis know

  4. Sigh , miss Chennai and the beach now that I am in Kolkata (yes Chennai Chennai Chennai and …. dosa dosa dosa ) – there !

    Lovely pics of G’pa and brat and bean

    Yes, I feel the same about most youngsters being so detached and aloof you can’t even help someone . Was in Pune during Navrathri and while everyone was busy with dandia, one 22-year old was in a wheelchair watching sullenly. Suddenly it started raining and everyone ran indoors and he was left stranded (he can’t navigate himself – his helper left him there and went off ). Hubby rushed to bring him in (yeah , he’s a dear , he won’t be caught dead on the dancefloor but bless him to know when to step up ). Even more shocking was people from his building knowing which flat he was from, but turning a blind eye so as not to miss their two mins of fun – at least they could wheel him out of the rain. Hope they are never stranded like that (not ! )

    • 🙂 hey – baby steps. if your little girls arent used to india and the madness, take only a small step. my kids love trains. hate flights. both of them feel they’ve been cheated of half their holiday if they are forced to fly

      • perhaps he did. i really dont know. he didnt seem strong enough to be stubborn. he was frail and shaky and some guy even put him into the train and saw me asking people to swap berths and sternly told me not to disturb the old man. I looked at him disdainfully and asked him what made him think I’d ask such an old man to exchange. Moron. And then after all that admonishing, he promptly skips off and leaves us managing not just our own two but the old man too!

        I think all these families count on the desi sense of responsibility towards elders and kids in general. so many times when i was single and travelling by bus i’ve taken some random kid to sit on my lap. so many times i’ve stood up and given my seat to an older man who then took my college rucksack and held it in his lap as a token of his appreciation.

  5. I want to say so much about the rude young couple you encountered on the train, but won’t because I am a huge puddle of mush looking at and reading about all the fun the kiddos had! 🙂 Family vacations are so much fun! I am a “grown-up” (mere technicality, meh!) and I love vacations with the extended family. They are always full of laughter and we invariably end up eating breakfast at noon and lunch at 4 pm! 😀 So glad you had a fab Christmas in Madras!

  6. Ok, so its confirmed that PMS is not why I get tears in my eyes when I read of the Brat and his gentleness. He just is the most gentle baby I know.
    Like the idea of the summer job at the Croc Bank. Sounds like just the kind of thing the Brat would love.
    This is the second post in which you’ve mentioned moving to Madras; howsoever nascent the idea, I will keep my fingers crossed.

  7. I’m catching up here after god knows how long. And it feels like visiting an old friend’s home, putting my feet up on the sofa, starting to chat from where we left off. The same warm feeling reading your posts as if I know you guys. And I might again start getting dreams related to you guys too (freak alert). Yes, it weirdly feels home 🙂
    Enough mush (it’s contagious I tell you), wish you a very happy 2011. And I send out a frantic prayer that the 92 Yr old got to where he intended to go after the travel.

    Hoping to be back here regularly.
    An oldtimer

  8. Awesome post. Like reliving childhood summer vacations with all the Thatha-Paati stories 🙂
    Great pics as well. If I were given a choice on a blogger I wwould love to meet ; you and BnB are on the top of my list 🙂

  9. Sounds like such a wonderful time! Call me crazy but I actually miss long train journeys, haven’t taken one in forever. But I miss all the fun that came with it, basketful of food, playing cards and made up games the whole way and meeting new people and reading under that super fancy lift to read light.

    Ewww…that couple was saying X-rated things!! My aunt recently encountered a couple making out rabidly on the bunk above hers on a overnight journey! Creeepy!!!!

    • you do? on the old blog i got complaints that they were too long. and i was like dude, this is primarily my record for myself and the kids!! you dont like it, dont read. i guess all those who hated long posts dropped off then

      • of courrrse I do! It’s like watching a feel-good movie! 🙂

        I’m not one of those people who will not read something cos it’s “too long”.

        • Even I love long posts. I first see the length of the post you have written and then will start reading the post. If its about the antics of Brat and Bean then I wouldn’t mind even a small post. 🙂

          The best best post in the recent times was the one describing tambi’s surprise visit and all the fun you had. It was really long and I read it multiple times. Reading it the first time was like watching a very interesting movie sitting on the edge of the seat and almost falling off in anticipation of the next scene.
          Reading it multiple times is like watching a favorite a hundred times and never getting bored. 🙂

  10. 🙂

    Love the mammoth attacked by the dinosaurs!

    And hey there are HUNDEREDS of globes of all sizes in at least ten shops within walking distance from my place. I can’t beleive you cant find one! Shall I send you one? Serious. And quality-wise they are as good as the ones you get outside des, except that the price is much more reasonable.

  11. My grandparents are way above 85 and both of them used to travel alone till recently. Only after our constant nagging did they stop it and thank god for that!

    Completely agree with you regarding the indifferent attitude of today’s youth. We can see that everywhere. Buses, roads or any public place. I cannot understand how anyone can fail to recognize the fact that we would be old too one day.

    Happy that you all ushered in 2011 on a good note! 🙂

    • yeah? good for them! i love independent old people. but this was a long journey and if you’re counting on nothing going wrong, that is scary. because in our case the train engine got spoilt – it was the rajdhani. and so we reached each station 4 hours late, meals getting that late. not right for an old person. a flight might be safer if they are alone.

  12. I love trains…only thing is, I really don’t wanna do potty in the loos. Did this train have those new “Green Toilet” type thingys? And thanks for linking lil old me….hehehehehehe……whatte fun!

  13. Yayeee!!!! Picture post!!! Me louvvves it!

    N gosh…u talking about thatha-pati and Chennai at the same time makes me soo homesick 😦

    Hmm..u think it was some mean, uncaring, family members who sent off the 90 odd year old man by himself on the train no?? Well the story may not be that way..n I say this ..’coz I have a g’dad (one I am NOT fond of) , who is 93 yrs old but will insist on venturing off to all kinda of places by himself. There are times when he will tell his children(my dad and his siblings) on the day of travel, after he has booked his tickets n everything. I appreciate the independence and even u’stand his need for it..but it’s just not safe and he HAS to u’stand that. He has to think of the sleepless nights his children and wife have to go thru’ coz of his need to be travelling all the time. n people at that age don’t like to be told what to it’s a lose-lose situation that more often than not gets the rest of the family frustrated. there could be another side to the story.

    N haha! A good one..pretending not to know the language! Serves the young couple just about right!

    God Bless the brat and the bean for being the angels that they are 🙂

  14. You are very lucky indeed to have the OA..well i can never get mine to agree on these spontaneous trips. Lazy bum that he is. Must get him to read ur blog 😉
    92 yr old man travelling alone..what kind of a family lets him travel that distance all alone!!!!!
    Off topic..that’s the exact same digger that my sons warred over and i accidentally broke 😦 They still use every oppurtunity to make me feel guilty.

  15. I cried at the old uncle going alone.. What kind of people let their parents do that? I mean I understand if its a couple and a short journey- but alone and 2 days?X-rated things hunh? Seriously? Bah. Who’d talk about x-rated stuff, in a train…assuming people wouldn’t understand? Idiots.

  16. Lovely vacation….the kids are angels, so much activity.. and not a “chhoo” knock on wood… still laughing baout Heil Hitler and pOW.. haha..

    My mom..always shares a similr story on travel.. when she visits us in US, most of the younger generation, dont help her lift the bag on to the trolley or ask her for anything else. On the contrary, its the older generation who are struggling with there own stuff, help out.. and then help back!!! So weird and self- absorbed this generation is!

  17. I was having this conversation once with a friend whose SIL was travelling to India with her baby and it went off in the direction that he wanted to put all the mothers and babies in a sound proof cabin in the flight.. I took offense to it and asked him if he jumped to the world from heaven 5 years ago.. He asked me if I didnt mind the noise.. I said no and he asked why.. I said I am from India and there no one complains about babies in buses or trains.. Everyone tries to make a baby stop crying and try to assist the mother if needed.. As a kid I was offered small spaces to squeaze into in tight buses and lots of young people would just get up and give me a seat.. That was the India and Madras that I knew.. Its sad to talk to the youngsters of today who behave as if they jumped down from the sky 5 years ago..

    **feels much better**

    That was a lovely post about Madras.. Loved the picture of Bean making pancakes and the one where OA Brat and Bean are looking into the croc pool..

    Dinosaurs coming together and killing a mammoth 😀 cuteness..

  18. this post felt good to read whn i began & in the middle too, but whn i came up to the last few lines & read thm, the rest of the post became ordinary! yr son is truly a blessing!

  19. That is such a lovely post. Madras is all that to me that you talk about in this post, fun, family and beaches. Having been born and raised there, it warms my heart when someone loves the place just as much 🙂

  20. Heartwarming post, MM. I am starting the day on a good note 🙂 I personally dislike Madras but after reading your post, I will consider it if we ever move back. So your dad is tamil? Good to hear that you guys had a blast.

  21. This no-globe thing seems like a Delhi affliction. Its my all time fav kiddie gift and I could always find them in any book store in Bombay.
    I gave one to my colleague’s boy here in HK and his folks said something sweet like “Such a nice auntie (who me?), she gave you your first ever globe” and all of us watched indulgently as he dismantled the globe off its stand and started kicking it around the house. A damn football would have cost me 1/10th what my thoughtful gift did…sigh.

    • okay – you are now auntie. make your peace with it. you’ve worked with me – so if you come home, my kids dont get to call you by your name 😀 simply not on.

      that said, feel free to bring us a globe when you come :p

      • whaaat? your kids are really not that much younger…I’m still in college for crying out loud. Lets compromise on didi and a shiny globe will accompany me on my visit.

        • erm – one is three and one is 5. if you’re more than 20 years older you move out of didi category into aunty category. the book on socially acceptable terms says so. i have a copy.

          • Yours is outdated, from you being so old and all..haha (don’t swear at me, young lady!) Mine says I’m not an auntie because I have a 4 year old cousin and also because I’m ageless and cool.

  22. That sounded like a fun family time !!

    The first thing that I saw in the all the pics was the Mallipoo … and I almost concluded it was MM .. and then it occurred it could you mom (hadn’t read the post)
    And you really make a cool fashion statement with different toe rings on each foot !!

    Initially I thought the old man and the young couple were family …. and then was completely shattered to read the old man travelling alone. How could his family allow him to do that?

  23. I so agree that it’s the youngsters that have become selfish and less caring toward fellow passengers..
    we live in the US and visited India recently with 2 young kids (4 and 1).. I had a great experience in this matter though.. in the bus that takes you to the flight from the terminal, I was holding my 1 year old and a couple of bags.. and my husband holding my 4-year old’s hands and a couple of bags.. we were the last to enter the bus, but immediately, one person gave up his seat for me and another elderly aunty took my daughter and asked her to sit on her lap.. she and my daughter had a great time ‘conversing’ and it really looked like a grandma-granddaughter together.. so cool considering they didnt know one language in common (my daughter knows only Tamil and English while the lady knew only Hindi and Marathi)..

    • eh? oh! well one, i didnt feel like making idle chatter with idiots. plus, it always comes as shock if they’re bitching about us, no?! people should learn to be careful about what they say about others. i only do that when i am feeling particularly annoyed. in more ways than one – mostly because i can’t stand the assumption that if you speak one Indian language, you dont speak another. Between the OA and I, its a rare language we dont understand!

  24. I agree that people need to be more sensitive and co-operative towards, co-passengers in a train or a flight- when I say co-passangers, I mean everyone not just the old or disabled. However does that mean that passangers who are single or childless are the only ones who should always be stepping up to fulfil the requirements of the passangers with kids. Would it be right to assume that the other childless travellers have no right of choice just because they are not travelling with kids? I have faced couples with kids ask me to swap the aisle or window seats on a 14hr flight. My take is you know you are travellin with your kids, you know what would be the most convenient way for you , so book well in advance do not assume that because you have the kids with you, the rest of the passangers will accomodate you. Personally, I check in as early as I can because Im specific of the seats I need when I fly. And I would find it really annoying and difficult to exchange the seats for someone who thinks, ‘right, I have a child and I want your seat”.
    Like you said , the way the couple behaved regarding the elderly person is purely inhuman. I feel as responsible grown up human beings it is each person’s responsibility to take care of the weaker. But swapping the seats with a couple who has kids and who booked late is purely a matter of choice. Anyone who books their seats of choice do so for their convenience and for each their comfort is important, whether you have a child or you are on your business trip. I have heard a lot of people saying if you cant stand kids in flights or trains take a private transport,I agree. But I do beleive it holds good for either party.
    Just my opinion.

    • Well yes of course you’re entitled to your opinion, but I do believe that any weaker human being needs consideration. Old people and children fall into that category. Not everyone can book early and get seats together. And yes, I understand that you book early to get a seat of your preference, but I guess that we’re just different people. Because no matter how early I booked or what I did, if I found someone whose need was greater than mine, I’d give it to them without quibbling. In this case they were on the top two berths on one side and we had the bottom one. all we wanted was for them to swap from the left to the right – the same top two berths! they were just cranky young people – and seeing how traditional they were, I can bet they’ll have kids soon. i hope they encounter people such as themselves when they travel with their kid who i am sure will be equally cranky!
      Single and childless dont always have to give up. In our case we – married and with children and with my parents who are also almost senior citizens, took care of the old man while the childless couple sat around selfish and self-absorbed.
      This is not about trains alone, its about a life lesson in general – if you see a woman your own age struggling with a cane or a wheelchair or even a bunch of heavy bags – would you help her? I would.
      Everyone has a right to the seat they have booked and no one should feel entitled to that just because they have some problem.
      That said, its a cold, pathetic world where people aren’t willing to accommodate and help those who need it. This is India, we’re brought up to be kind to the elderly and children. Thats all we have – our generosity, and willingness to help and our hospitality. If we lose that, we’re just a crowded, dirty, over-populated corrupt country that is slowly also turning insular, selfish and self absorbed too.
      Let us agree to disagree on our treatment of such situations then.

      • “That said, its a cold, pathetic world where people aren’t willing to accommodate and help those who need it. This is India, we’re brought up to be kind to the elderly and children. Thats all we have – our generosity, and willingness to help and our hospitality. If we lose that, we’re just a crowded, dirty, over-populated corrupt country that is slowly also turning insular, selfish and self absorbed too.”


        just wanted to tell u how true and how articulate..

      • Weell, hearing more about it I guess you are very right in being annoyed. and I agree to your point that elderly or children are definitely weaker in specific scenarios. What I meant to say was the parents need to be more responsible while travelling with kids. I guess your situation is different in here coz like your mom said you look like a fantastic mom. I have one had a couple in flight (Indian couple if it makes any difference) whose kid was kicking at the back of my seat and when I requested the parents to please mind it ( I had taken an 8hr bus before the flight and was dying for some sleep) the reply was she is just a child you shouldnt mind. well and the kid goes on to call me’ stupid’. You know just the other side of the story. So guess there are no generalisations.And no generallisatons about the nationalities too with my experience, I have only had very good experiences and that is what I try to give back too. And yes I too would help anyone regardless of age or anything else. But some experiences like this one really annoys me. I just thought of putting that across to you. And yes our treatment of second situation( the elderly person) would have been the same.
        P.s:I like the way you said when they have a child they will learn a lesson, that wouldnt work on my experience, u see

        • See, there is a huge difference between a badly behaved child and a child being a child. I’d give my child a smack if they kicked a seat – they arent allowed to kick my seat when i am in the car in front of them! and i’d if at all, exchange seats with the kid or do something – stand up for the rest of the damn flight – but definitely not allow their child to disturb anyone else and definitely not let them get away with bad behaviour.
          on the other hand if i picked a window and i saw it was a long journey and some kid was in the middle, i’d give them the window if it kept them occupied – they’re only kids. they dont understand why they have to sit still for 16 hours. and they can’t. its not something they are mentally equipped to do on these long flights.

          no one is saying that single and young people have to give up every right. one is only explaining that there are two sides to every coin. and one is only saying this because once youve had a kid you understand how a child’s mind works and how tired the other parent is. which is why you will see middle aged and older people always willing to help. they’ve been there,done that, and empathise.

          i dont mean to generalise, but when my parents were younger they, and then we, were taught to put others before us. “share your toys because you are the host/ dont ask for toys because you are the guest.” these days even every magazine preaches “me time” and how to focus on the self. we’re constantly being taught about us, us, us. Headlines scream – spoil yourself at the spa, take a break and have a vacation.. i mean when is the last time you saw any one magazine telling you to give another a chance first?

          that said, i do find a growing intolerance by everyone on every front. road rage, an inability to be hospitable, to open doors for people struggling with bags. and this is not aimed at you – i dont even know you. just an observation. if by reading my post, some young person gives up a seat to a tired mother tomorrow or helps a man struggling to lift out a laptop along with three other bags, i’ll be really happy.

          • Hope so, everyone whom I know tells me that once I have a child I would be that obsessed mom!!! What annoyed me the most was the parents ust decided to tell me off and go off to sleep leaving the child the carry on with what it was doing. that is what I dont want to do and promise myself would never do while travelling with my little one. I would keep him / her occupied. Surely you are right about values, which is why it comes naturally to me to share or care even while I lived a life on my own being an only child. And about lack of tolerance, this again might be my perspective or even a difficult one to take in, but I have seen this a lot more in India than anywhere else. Keeping a door opened for the person after you or helping a petite single girl with a huge cabin bag, I felt came naturally to people, except in India. Even following a queue is difficult, I remember I had to pick up an arguement because someone tried to knock me off wen the bording gates opened inspite of the factor that there was a queue.
            Well working together for a better tomorrow may be the way!!

    • Hey! Do you have children? And do you travel with them? Sometimes, it’s impossible to book in advance when you have kids. Especially little ones. So to say, “book ahead, find seat of your choice,” is actually easier said than done. That said, I agree that no one should expect the single and the childless to be more obliging than others. But believe me, I don’t know a single parent like me who gets on a flight or a train and says, “I have kids and I want your seat,” We’re too busy worrying how keep our kids from getting to be complete pains in the rear to others.

      • thanks RQ – thats my point too. none of us demand it. its a simple thoughtful gesture. its kindness. you dont owe me kindness and i am not entitled to your kindness. but if you do it, i am grateful. if you don’t, and i see you being needlessly selfish, i will think less of you for it. one journey, i was pregnant and couldnt climb up to the top berth. now when a 27 year old books a train ticket, you cant insist on a lower berth. you take what you get. its not a flight. i requested a young guy to swap with me because it was mostly oldies in the coach and he says – I’m studying for an entrance so i cant go up.
        i was horrified. isnt the top berth the most convenient to sit and study? couldnt he see a pregnant woman struggling? finally one of the older gentlemen, offered to climb up. i use the word gentlemen carefully, because that is what he was. the young man was just a selfish lout. i declined the old gentlemen’s offer and waddled up anyway. and i hope someday that young man needs a seat and is treated as selfishly as he treated a woman who needed it.

        • Oh and it isn’t always the elderly and children who need a little consideration. It can be anyone. I am a single woman who made extensive use of the train and bus services between Bangalore and Madras for 4+ years. Every trip of mine was planned and yet, there were times when a lecherous co-passenger, a sprained ankle, extra bags etc, needed me to swap seats. I don’t think it has to do with the party that needs consideration – it has to do with your being a more accommodating/ generous human being. Not always, just once in a while.

          • Cheers , R. Exactly my point. Me too has had to travel alone in bus, train etc.. on short notice and that’s when I have had a lot of experiences good and bad during those days and it was never dependent on the gender, age or nationality of people. So I have come to believe that this is a very person to person thing.

      • Hey..when I said, “I have kids and I want your seat,” I of course didnt mean the exact words, but the approach some people show. It might not be deliberate, it could be for the same reason you said, that they are too preoccupied with their own kids that they are causing others the exact thing you said. So yes I am against people demanding it, well there are people who demand it, you may not be one among them or known one among them, but that doesnt mean there are no such people. And yes I absolutely understand that not all times it is possible to book your tickets prior, that’s not possible for anyone with or without kids.Try is all I would do. And does it matter whether I have kids or travel with them? Would that make a differnce? Should it even? I beleive how polite or helpful you are and how you go about with your life alongside strangers is just about the values you have.

        • Well whether you have kids or not shouldnt make a difference to your values, but having been through something gives you a lot more empathy. You say you took an 8 hour bus ride prior to the flight. Perhaps the parent has also taken that 8 hour bus ride ALONG with a tired child and was working the day before that, to finish up their business before going on vacation. So in all this, everyone is tired and you can never say who has had a worse trip. Again, I reiterate that no one is entitled to your seat. All one requests is that when someone is with a child, you are not being asked to take the adult into consideration. You are being requested to take into consideration, a 4 year old’s emotions and physical exhaustion. That is easier for older people to do because they’ve had a 4 year old child and they know what goes on in that mind.

  25. My sibling and I would be on those long train journeys and then pain the younger adults [most likely newly weds] with our super corny jokes. Like “Which is the most dangerous city?” 😛
    And nobody complained! In fact, they encouraged us so to give my mom a break from us and then share our thepla/chundo.
    Its sad that that is no longer the case. I have not seen any rudeness personally yet, but I have not been on a long train journey in a while either. Your long posts rock!

    • thepla/chundo! what about khakhra? sev-mamra? vagharela marcha?!

      train journeys of my childhood were full of all of these and more!

      *goes off to spoon up one big mouthful of home-made chundo!*

  26. either I have missed a lot of your posts or the trolls seem to be so less frequent these days! whr’s the entertainment in your blog mad momma? 😛

  27. A French friend who has been travelling in India since the last 21 years, once every year, across the country by 2nd class general, does moan that the camaraderie between train passengers has decreased recently.

    More and more people are on their cells, or reluctant to talk, share food, tolerate kids.

    On the good side, he says, he doesn’t get so many curious questions about his marital status any more.

    However, it’s such a shame about the old man. How could he be allowed to travel alone by his family?

    Having said that, I knew an old man, in his late 80s, who was adamant on travelling alone, even by ST bus, and his family had to just give up on him, and cross their fingers.

    • I understand what you mean but in this case he landed on our heads, na? We helped him because thats what we do in this country and specially on trains. Made his bed, organised food, shared the childrens’ limited food when the meals didnt come on the train (We didnt have too much and yet we shared it, knowing that it might fall short for our children). The train was late, the phone ran out of charge, he couldn’t see well enough to dial numbers. His hands were shaking. There was a gentleman sitting with him when we got on and we thought they were together. next thing we know, the train starts and the man slips off.
      I know a lot of old people are adamant, but someone needs to stand up and take responsibility for them. Else they become someone else’s responsibility – and we had enough with the kids on our hands.

  28. What’s with kids and reptiles these days? Last weekend we took our son to Mysore zoo and he didn’t even notice the tigers, elephants and giraffes of the world. But as soon as we were in the reptiles section, he was amazed ! Wouldn’t budge from the croc and snakes section. Why why !!

  29. MM, I liked this post because it’s about one of the cities that has part of my soul. I love Madras with a quiet intensity that surprises me. I haven’t been alone on a train for a while now but I do see how self-absorbed people are on them these days. That said, it makes for hilarious and often amusing observation to watch people talk real loud on mobile phones, smile secretly at their screens and look intensely connected to their laptops.
    Random aside: My favourite train companion? My mum. We’re too much fun together.

    • Once my ma and I travelled to Madras in the cupboard that they store AC blankets. I was in Madras for admission and I got the call from St Stephens. We went to the station and jumped on to the first train we got. Bought the tickets and sat on the floor. I was in college so you can imagine Ma wasnt young. And then two young girls were kind enough to let us sit on their berth. I’ll never forget that. they offered it to us. The first night we paid the coach attendant something and he let us lie down in the blanket cupboard. One of the girls was passing that way to the loo and she woke us up and gave us her berth and shared her friend’s berth. now THAT is a true random act of kindness. I’ve learnt to pass it on. You can always shrug and say hey, I paid for this berth and I deserve it. To hell with anyone else’s need. Or you can be kind and someday you will be paid back

      • Very similar story here, I have. Was in Pune, doing my P.G and Amma was staying with me in Pune too. Exams around Christmas time and we weren’t going home. Got a sudden off on the 24th and we decided to leave for Madras, just like that. The train was crowded the way all Indian trains are, during the holiday season. There were 12 of us sharing the 8-berth coupe! I was so touched by the generosity of everyone, still remember every single person who travelled with me on that 18- hours’ long journey.
        Spent 5-yrs living in Vizag and every time we travelled to Madras (thrice a year), the train journey was as much a part of the holiday as being in Madras itself! All the food (and the planning that went into it) and the books and the company and the friends we made. What fun!

  30. I read only the first paragraph and I can’t resist this – aapki twacha se aapki umar ka pata hi nahii chalta. Mummmmmyyyy! :O

    😀 😀

    Be back for more.

    • LOL! Actually my twacha was rather pimply like a teenager’s for the last year and a half – reaction to the amount of medication I was on for the knee problem.

      The medicines were recently changed and I am so happy that my skin is finally clearing up. yayy!!

  31. Did you get a chance to watch any recent tamil movies? Any new finds in chennai like restaurants,shopping malls? If you wud hav told me before abt your chennai plans i wud have planted your 30 foot cut-out infront of Chennai central station reading ‘Delhi Akkavai varaverkum anbu thambi’ 🙂

    • 🙂 that is so sweet. and funny!
      I didnt get to do anything really, Pradeep. I just spent time with family and went from event to event – birthdays, engagements. and then the remaining time was spent on taking kids to the beach etc. i didnt even get to go to my beloved Victoria Technical Institute.

  32. This is what gets to me..I am all for sovereignty, respecting history, and the other paraphrenelia of our political present…but I wish there were other ways of being who we are today. As in OK we are all proud of our passports and defending the right of being who we are but I wish it did not involve not being EVER able to get up one morning and say OK I want to accompany MadMomma on one of her incredible travels…oh the heartache. And now your nephew is up and asking me What Are You Doing? No no…chalo later

  33. ha ha on you saved my life…this is precious, save this for when he is a sulky teenager (though I doubt it) and screams You Ruined My Life…”Aah” will declare OA “but once I saved it too”

  34. ever tried a bookstore? I remember seeing in Khan market.

    Or since I am the US right now, slated to be back 4 Feb – if you want to order it online and have it sent to my US address, I can bring it back. Let me know.

    • aww.. you sweetheart. no youre not lugging a bleddy globe back from the US. I’ll check Khan Market. Havent been there since I moved to this village. If i shout Ben 10 I’ll have 30 options. Look for a globe and no one seems to care.

  35. Hey,

    I know where to get a Globe! I just got one for my cousin.

    mail me your address, will have one sent across! Its a disgrace for kids to grow up w/o a globe 😦


  36. Ran out of space on top but yeah, even I call him uncle abhi (not). And you don’t lack in coolth either. An oldie but a goldie.

  37. Deal! We are calling it “NOT an auntie club:for women too cool to age or too lame to admit it” I smell uber success!

  38. Sorry to comment off-topic, but can’t resist. I’m in love with the flower shaped toe-ring that you’re wearing in the pic. Where did you get that from?

  39. Right MM, point taken:) that absolutely makes sense. Though I doubt that was the case. However, I had a terrible journey I must say with my back rest up the whole flight. The flight was packed, the child kicking, the parents not bothered, the airhostess helpless all of it after I had swapped my seat with a gentleman who was too tall to be comfortable in the middle seat. The positive, I learned a basic lesson about parenting.
    Your blog’s wonderful, I like the way you write about simple things.. just wondering if you are a journalist?? You have such free flow of words. Cheers

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