How to keep your kids out of malls this year

.. or…. why malls are not our scene. Or.. .why I think malls are terrible for (my) kids.

The April 3rd issue of Brunch carried a cover story called Mall Gudi Days. Going on to say –

What are the chances that you’ll be spending today at a mall? Pretty high we think.  Because malls have become our hangout places of choice.

Speak for yourself, dude, I thought to myself. There’s no denying that most of us end up in malls for some reason or the other. Particularly if you live in a place like Gurgaon that began to develop around the same time as malls happened to India. It didn’t really get a chance to let its indigenous markets grow the way they have around the rest of India. I even saw a cobbler in a mall in Gurgaon!

But the first time I visited Select Citywalk after it opened, was at Christmas and it reminded me of being abroad. The carols, the Xmas tree, the tableau, the decorations. I felt a momentary twinge, soaked up the atmosphere and went back to shopping. But the one thing I stubbornly did, was try not to take the kids there. No, there are no serial killers hiding in the wings ready to bludgeon kids to death, but there were a number of reasons I felt it was not for us.

Don’t get me wrong, its not like I or my kids have never set foot in one. But we only go there when we have an urgent need. As far as possible we shop at local markets and since in India most of us either live with family or have childcare, we leave the kids home and make it snappy. If we are forced to take the kids along because of lack of options, then we do. But what we never do, is treat a trip to a mall as an outing. We might shop and grab a bite, but we don’t plan it as… Let’s go to XYZ mall to play today. Here are my reasons why. (PS: this reminds me of a hilarious incident I had written about on the old blog. We were in Calcutta and were being shown around the city. And then someone suggested the mall. I didn’t put up a fight because we were mere visitors and it would be rude to object. As we drove up, the hardcore Dilliwala Brat looked at the building and said – oh baba re, yeh kiska itna bada ghar hai? People laughed at my villager son and refused to believe that a Delhi kid had never seen a mall before :))

– Too much temptation. As an adult I find it hard to resist shopping, so how much harder is it for a child who knows nothing of the value of money, to understand why he or she can’t have that super expensive toy. Why not everything can or should be solved with a bit of retail therapy.

– Too much, too easy. Personally, I think it is easy to just dump kids in the play area and move on. But these few outings that kids get with us are also learning experiences. How to cross a road, how to choose veggies, watch the butcher chop meat, watch the tailor mark and cut…its all about the interaction which is rare when both parents are working and time with them is limited.

– Boring. After a point it’s all about consuming. And then we complain that kids are getting too consumeristic. Whose fault is it if we teach them that the only way to have fun is by walking into a store and spending money? That they can buy one toy every mall visit?

– Learning nothing, getting no exercise. The malls just spoonfeed them and then we complain about our kids older than 4-5 being overweight. They just sit and stare unblinkingly  at video games and I worry about them. What are they learning, other than how to move their fingers faster?

– I feel tired. Give us a day at a friend’s home or trekking in a hill station and we come home with our reserves of energy still high. But somehow I begin to get tired with the mall walking, my back aches, I get cranky (that might be a default setting) and I come home drained and sleepy. Somehow the OA feels the same way. Is it the lighting, the air conditioning, the what? I don’t know. Also I hate that our kids can no longer stand heat or dust and have to shop or play in air conditioned environs.

– I hate being manipulated. What started as simple shopping evolved into an entertainment zone. Put a playzone into any crappy mall and parents will go there to shop because its easier. Shop. Shop. Shop. Do I want to walk into a honeyed web laid to ensnare parents who take their kids for a game and end up buying half a dozen things they don’t need?

Now I don’t believe that as adults our lives should only revolve around our kids, but I’ve also realised that the walk down memory lane is more fun than we realise. If you let yourself enjoy a park or some ducks, you’ll suddenly realise that this is not just about them. Its fun for you too. It de-stresses you, it helps you get some fresh air and exercise and it builds memories that are so much stronger than an nth visit to the same mall (where they will see and want yet another damn beyblade!).

It is no great struggle and all it takes is a little thought to ensure that given our hectic lifestyle the kids are kept entertained without it falling into mall territory. I cannot speak for other cities but I think ArtNavy is the most BRILLIANT example of educating her kids in fun ways without falling prey to mall culture. Surabhi doesn’t even go out of her way to entertain Sanah and yet she is giving her the kind of exposure and upbringing most of us can only aspire to. BEV and A at Rainbow Days take their kids to art shows and museums and interesting dinners and their kids are probably some of the best mannered and most interesting I’ve come across. All this just to say that there are some of us out there who do manage to stay out of malls every single weekend even if some weekends we’re shoved in there because the husband is wearing frayed collars to work and disgracing the family.

So anyway, I have also had a lot of parents asking me what the OA and I do to keep the kids entertained. Well for one, when we’re with the kids, we’re with the kids. Feeding, bathing, the works. A lot of that is just interaction and rarely do we get guilted into doing anything because we anyway spend a lot of time with them. It means less coffee breaks, less wasting time (I’m guilty of spending time on the blog but its also why I only write at night unless its a short picture post – plus full days of school and long summer hours of daylight keep them out of the house almost all day) and more efficiency and less sleep but we do manage to have a full life. And when we make plans, we try and find a way to fit them in. If I go to meet friends for coffee, I take the Bean or Brat along if they want to come and carry a book or a set of colour pencils. Buy them a milkshake and we’re good to go. If we go shopping we let them walk around and check out stuff and they thankfully don’t pull down the store so we’re not really forced to leave them locked into a playarea like little delinquents! I have to make a disclaimer here – they’re not natural angels. We’ve had the odd occasion when a heavy hand lands on their butts and they’ve learnt that going out with us is not something they are entitled to, but a privilege and if they abuse it, they will stay home with one parent while the other runs errands. Period.

So anyway, here is a list of things to do in Delhi that we do with our kids. I’m going to ask parents from other cities to suggest a list of non-mall activities so that we have a sort of database. For now, it’s just me. Other Delhi parents, feel free to add to this list.

  1. The easy one – take them for a metro ride to old Delhi. Most kids have never seen this part of the city and be it parathas, chaat or rabri… the best place for any of these is Chandni Chowk. Go early in the morning and make a good heavy breakfast of it. The Bean went here first at a few months of age I think. Bunged into a baby sling and fed as the need arose while we ate deep fried karela parathas. Yummy.
  2. Take a walk through Deer Park. It’s cool, shaded, the peacocks call all evening and the kids will love feeding the deer. Take some bread along.  Don’t forget to check out the ruins at Deer Park and the corner with swings. It is a massive place so you only see the swings if you go from the Africa Avenue side. If you go by 5 or so, you can walk around for a while and round it off with a good South Indian dinner at Gunpowder in Hauz Khas Village. Just remember its four flights up! (This one’s  not for kids but a dinner at TLR – The Living Room is good for adults. Live music  -sometimes its pretty bad- food a little overpriced, but an ambience that is unmatched. One night we sat there, the OA and I, and planned our escape from corporatehood. Ahem, all that disappeared by the time we got home.) The Delhi Drum Circle plays there every second Sunday or so, check them out on Facebook. They are very cool and encourage kids to drum with them. So take little Pappu along with a bongo and you’re all set.
  3. Eat chocolate pancakes at a bakery in Paharganj and take a long walk through it. They have some reasonable rooftop restaurants and the Brat has often sat there and counted stars while the OA and I got through a lazy dinner. Don’t miss the Israeli and Nepali joints. It’s a chance to introduce kids to something other than Asian and Italian food and pretty authentic.
  4. Go to Lodhi gardens for an early morning walk on Sunday and round it off with brunch at the All American Diner. Carry some bread for the ducks, something light for the kids to eat while you’re there and then go the whole hog (excuse the pun) at AAD – waffles, pancakes, eggs… juice. If you go in the evening you will end up walking with Jairam Ramesh and a number of other VIPs. There’s also a section earmarked by the NDMC for butterflies! Yes… kids will love it.
  5. Try a magic show at the Kingdom of Dreams. Or a musical. Culture Gully is full of a variety of food options. If you’re coming from Delhi, take the metro to IFFCO chowk and it’s walking distance from there.
  6. Join a library or a book club. I read to the kids everyday so its not something new but we’ve taken them for a couple and they enjoy the change. Reading Caterpillar in Nizamuddin is awesome. I love Rabani’s energy and the ideas she keeps coming up with.
  7. Buy second hand books at Nai Sarak and browse the morning away. Sometimes you get some rare first editions of your favourite books. You can also do this in South Ex and CP. Lots of old book stores and no hole in the pocket.
  8. Stay overnight at the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary and wake up to catch the early birds. While winters are the best time to spot migratory birds, it is a pleasure to go during or immediately after the monsoons just for a beautiful walk.
  9. Eat piping hot momos while you watch a traditional performance at Dilli Haat. Try the malabar parathas at the Kerala stall, steaming hot Radha Ballabi’s at the WB stall on a foggy night. At Dilli Haat its easy for kids to fall in love with traditional wooden and cloth toys, to want to pick up a nice kurta or lehenga that they might otherwise cringe at wearing and to watch in awe as the old man plays the ektara.
  10. Try your hand at go-karting. Google it and you’ll get atleast 5-6 options around the city.
  11. Fly a kite on Independence Day. When is the last time you flew one?
  12. Go hot air ballooning at Damdama Lake. The lake by itself is nothing much but its a brilliant experience. You can also stay overnight at a number of places if you’re looking for a weekend getaway. It might not be a great place but kids love the idea of staying in a strange place and a new bed.
  13. Visit the annual Surajkund Mela. It gets very crowded so try and get there the moment it opens at 10 am or pick a weekday to skip the madness.
  14. Try bungee jumping at the Aero Club of India, also hang gliding, sky diving and paragliding.
  15. Go to Neemrana Fort and try the ziplining experience. Even if kids are too young, its nice to go on a pleasant day and let them run around the lawns. Inside – not so much!
  16. Have a butter chicken dinner at Pandara Road. It’s a very Dilli thing to do. Plus that part of Delhi is.. just so nice to drive around.
  17. Chug along on the Delhi Parikrama Rail Sewa on the two hour ride around Delhi’s tourist spots
  18. Visit the Mughal Gardens when they open up to the public for a month each year. You might think its no biggie for kids, but hey, imagine growing up and moving out and saying you never ever saw them!
  19. Eat a midnight biryani the night before Eid, at Jama Masjid. My kids aren’t so big on the biryani but simply love the kebabs. I do it on a night before a weekend and make sure they sleep well in the afternoon. The different sights, sounds and the fact that they are out at night is damn exciting to them.
  20. Join a riding club and learn to canter. I’ve done it a couple of times and the kids simply love it. Am yet to make it a permanent feature because the Bean isn’t old enough for classes and  I hate sending the Brat off and leaving her at home.
  21. Take a walk through the Jahapanah Forest, the Roshanara Gardens, Japanese Garden, Nehru Park or Rose Garden. Sit down and have a snack when you tire. Bas, ho gaya picnic.
  22. Spend a summer rappelling, river crossing, and tying knots at the Dhauj Rock climbing camp. You can also do this at Lado Sarai near the Qutub Golf Course.
  23. Go parasailing at Sohna and check out the hot water springs. This is a winter trip. There is a little Tourism Dept style restaurant and lake there. Nothing great for us adults who have seen better, but I’ve realised that as long as we don’t crib  “What shit is this…” the kids will enjoy the drive, the camel ride, the once-in-a-while Coke and chips and come back feeling quite thrilled. It is our high standards that tend to rub off on them and then we wonder when they became such hard to please snobs.
  24. Go to Asola Bhatti Sanctuary or if you have the enthusiasm, drive all the way to Sariska National Park and spot neelgai, peacocks, sambar, wild boar and much more.
  25. Go boating at the Old Fort. It’s just a paddle boat ride but if you live in Delhi and don’t take your kids around all the old ruins and forts, it is a waste of the city. Few metros give you a ruin in your backyard.
  26. It’s not a big deal but make a point of picnicking or at least walking to the ruins in your area. If you live in Panchsheel, Hauz Khas, Safdarjung Enclave – I could go on – there will always be a ruin to take your evening walk through. The OA and I had three favourites near our old home and we even took Orange Jammies  for a walk when she visited with us.
  27. Take one of the many  Delhi Heritage Walks and discover the city close up. Try Red Earth for the Genda Phool walks. Himanshu is brilliant and comes up with a variety of walks and ways to save the Genda Phool, the city’s flower markets, pay tributes to Khwajaji and a lot more.
  28. Watch a play at Kamani Auditorium. Sometimes they have plays suitable for young adults.
  29. Spend a day at the zoo and take the buggy ride around it. You can share the buggy with another family if you aren’t too large a group. Remember, you cant take food in and there’s only that much of a meal you can make of chips. So time it well.
  30. Join any one of the cycling groups and take a ride around the city.
  31. Watch a puppet show at Dilli Haat or check out for Katkatha. The Kathputli Colony is another brilliant idea.
  32. The Nehru Planetarium has recently been renovated  – its a must go to for every child old enough to enjoy it.
  33. Jeevashram is a great place to take the kids to visit sick animals. You can even adopt a pet from there without spending a fortune.
  34. The Garden of Five senses  (thanks Diya!) is a huge favourite and I must have done at least 4 picture posts about it in the last couple of years. A huge maze, windchimes, camel rides, fountains, dhaba food, the flower show – whats not to like?
  35. The Rail Museum. Chug around on a toy train, check out the oldest engines possible and have a picnic before you head back home.
  36. Shankar’s Doll museum is old and dusty but its a change from Barbie and Ken. The Sulabh Museum of Toilets is a funny place and kids find anything to do with pooping and farting very funny. Strange creatures.

Parents in other cities, would you like to join in and tell us what fun things your kids do while staying far away from malls? And oh, if you do a post on this – please drop the link by here so that I can compile it. Join the movement – keep our kids out of malls ! :p

141 thoughts on “How to keep your kids out of malls this year

  1. Lady you live in my head, for the nth time.

    Check out Sangi’s blog for a post on Bangalore things. And Starry. And of course ArtNavy as you have pointed out.

    My highest reco for Bangalore – Hippocampus! Would have died without it. It is our first home, not even second. My kids say Monday is their least favourite day of the week because it is shut on Mondays! The folks who run it are lovely too, in fact every city should have at least ten Hippocampuses.

  2. Brilliant! Bangalore doesn’t have as many options.. but we do our bit by taking Diya to the local park, walk down to the cafe, local markets, Botanical garden, zoo…
    And yes, we do take her to malls sometimes…

  3. How I’d like to have a list for Chennai. We go to the beach or Mahabalipuram or go veggie shopping (roadside) or something like that. I’ve never gone to a mall to actively “spend” a weekend there, although we’ve had to cart her around for our shopping and all. Another pet peeve – some people are surprised that she’s almost 3 and never seen the insides of a movie hall, but I hate to see bawling toddlers when am watching a movie, so what right do I have subjecting someone else to that torture. And HOW is it a good experience for them anyway?

    • Hi, have you tried the Vandaloor Zoo, Guindy Park (used to be my fav hang out as a kid), Snake Park, Trade fair in Island grounds.. some of those things that I remember from my childhood.. There should be more now..

        • Oh, its just next to the snake park.. a mini zoo kind of place, with lots of trees, deers and monkeys.. used to picnic there a lot as a kid with relatives and all that.. Not sure if it is still a hangout for families or run down.. I hope it is not..

          Also nearby is the Birla Planetorium..

          Trade Fair is once a year affair at this place called Island grounds.. with your usual mix of stores selling handlooms from all around the country, molaga bajjis, fun rides and some stalls put up by each department of government, if you ignore the pictures of either MK or JJ (whoever is ruling), should be a nice way to introduce kids to government departments.. used to love it as a kid (but well that was a day and age without cable TVs and malls)..

          Hope someone with a kid in Chennai comes up with a more up to date places to hang out

          • ArtNavy’s the person. Now she’s in bangalore and burning it up. When she was in Madras you just had to read her blog every week to find something new and fun to do.

            • mm, we have a local hippocampus too. though i dont use it as much as chox. plus, the new Anna Centenary library is supposed to be fantastic. Dakshinchitra has summer activities for kids too this year, which should be very fun! I hate crowded places though, malls or parks. 😦

              Also, painting party went very well. Kids made some beautiful things.

  4. Wow MM, super post…I totally totally agree…Its usually RD who goes to do the urgent shopping..and the only time R has gone to the mall to ‘play’ was when it was Shivratri and her daycare was closed..RD took leave to take care of her and took her there for the first time to play..and frankly I think the pizzas she is more in her memory than the rides she took 🙂
    In Mumbai, I think
    1. Sanjay Gandhi National Park: Its cheap, its thrilling, there is a toy train, there is a tiger/lion bus ride and there is ample place to play in swings and slides
    2. The Taraporevala aquarium. I am yet to take R there but I have got pretty decent reviews from people
    3. The Nehru planetarium. Again I am yet to go there but loads of parents of slightly older children (7 years and above) definitely recommend it. Infact they have special sessions for kids also
    4. The Pagoda. RD has taken R with him there. Though he mentions that it may not be the right place to take a small kid, but the ambience and the ride to the pagoda is amazing
    5. Aksa beach. or infact any of the beaches whether its girgam or juhu or aksa. its fun. the water is dirty in Juhu but it aksa its very clean and kids can have loads of fun

    will add more to the list as I remember. Thanks for this post. I think its very much needed. If you need someone to compile all this by city and by activity and send across from your comments please let me know. I will be more than happy to do so 🙂

    • Go ahead. Do it. I will link your post at the bottom of mine when you are ready. Anyone who is willing to do it is great. We need more ideas for those who would like to do more with their kids but have no idea where to start.

      • Hey,
        In Bombay, double decker bus rides and ferry rides at Gateway of India are also great fun 🙂 Matheran is also close enough for some gentle horse-riding, and lots of mucking around in red mud.
        Let’s please make a list!

        • Hanging Gardens (although I don’t know how well it is maintained these days…), Juhu Gardens (they still have that model airplane?), Narial Pani at the seaface. The planetarium was my personal favorite growing up but there’s a lot of time pass in Mumbai without having to go to the Mall. Also, there’s no dearth of exhibitions for various arts that are around in various suburbs.

  5. This is a fantastic thing that you’ve started, MM! I don’t have any kids yet, but I am totally against video games and using malls as a fun destination for kids! 🙂

    Once everyone has put together a list like this for their respective cities, it will be great to capture it all in once place and save it as a Google Doc or create a separate webpage and link it to all the popular mommy blogs, so that everyone is aware of these (much more FUN) options!

    And yes, you’ve made me CRAVE for Delhi 🙂

  6. There are lots of places in Bangalore too and I have made up my mind to make a list like yours for parents here. In Delhi we have enjoyed many lovely moments at the Garden of five senses and in the area around India Gate.

  7. Honoured by the mention!

    I so agree that anything/ activity/ place can be made fun when there are kids around- there is so much wonder to tap into.

    we r yet to go to a mall here with the kids!! it has been a yr in blore- i have been to one once to pick up some bedsheets! out in ten minutes.

  8. You can add a visit to Qutub Minar, a walk at India Gate, a trip to Childrens park followed by breakfast at Andhra bhawan. National science museum near Pragati Maidan, rail museum, etc etc

  9. “Give us a day at a friend’s home or somewhere else and we still come home with our reserves of energy full up. But send us to the mall and we come back very drained and sleepy. Is it the lighting, the walking, the what? I don’t know.”

    COmpletely agree..malls give me a dull headache that lasts the entire day. No amount of caffine or crocin can get it out of me.
    As for the kids, there are a lot of parks and gardens in Bangalore that we visit quite often. I see someone in the comments mentioned about Hippocampus. Need to check it out…There is a lot i have learnt about Bangalore through your blog. Though not through the posts but a lot from the comments. 🙂 That you mad momma.

  10. This is a good one. Thank you. I’ll save the list for future visits. The last one was spent at a hospital but I’m hoping our next visit will be better. The kid did have fun though, with relatives met at the hospital cafe/home who would entertain him.
    We did go to the mall nearby but more to eat/gorge at the haldiram’s there as it was a quick drive from the hospital. I was amazed and appalled to see the winter decorations and the fashion stores. I would have loved to see more Indian decorations but I guess that’s because snowflakes are not that much fun for me. I was even a little nervous whether they would let us in as I was only dressed in a very out of fashion (2-3yrs old) salwar kameez. I was expecting a notice which proclaimed a dress code to enter the mall!!
    We (kid and I) enjoyed travelling by autos, rickshaws(GK market) and metro.

    I’m looking forward to other bloggers’ lists from Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad (if anyone would post them).
    Thanks once again.

  11. Mad Momma, helloo!! I love the new header!

    And hey, I’m surprised to read that malls are hangouts for families – I thought that teenagers favoured them more. ( But then again, I’m me and I know that I’m not too-clued-in to the world around me anyway.)

    Dilli always comes across as a very exciting place to be, especially from reading your blog.

  12. Well, they call it a shopping ‘complex’.. for a reason.. don’t they?

    As for us, wify loves malls and my daughter also enjoys.. but me and my son do not (at all). So together, we hardly go to malls. Me and my son find it too crowded, too much music, too much lights and too much food on display.. it is kinda like going to a wedding.

    Anyway, keep your address safe.. coz with this post, there might be some high profile builders and businessmen who might want to have a ‘talk’ with you 🙂

  13. Lovely post! Our trips to the malls aren’t outings either–in fact I avoid taking “the boys” with me because then tend to whine and drag their feet. Yeah both of them. 😀 Sigh, the things we women have to put up with.

    Delhi was a fun city to grow up in—we used to be regulars at Pragati Maidan–it was close to school and we used to catch it all–the trade fairs, the textile festivals, the crafts museum (open year round!) Another favorite haunt was CP.

    Don’t have any experience raising a kid there, only fond memories ….growing up, we just did the whole family outing thing, weekends were for the trip to the gurudwara, stop at gopinath bazaar or sarojini nagar for groceries, tailors, bartan, whatever stuff needed doing, it was a fun ride for all of us. As an army brat , we also had the dsoi–which meant swimming and open air movies and the library! I don’t remember eating out much as a kid, just street food type of stuff and only occasionally. It was a whole other thing discovering the city as a young adult–but Delhi has something for every age. You’ve put together a lovely compilation of stuff to do!

  14. MM completely agree with your post. And I love the fact that you have followed it up with such brilliant ideas for outings. Keeping this list in mind for the next time I come down with Adi.
    Btw, this made me want to move to Delhi 🙂

  15. Woooow!!! So impressed at how u’ve put together the list of things to do in Delhi…it’s like an advertisement for Delhi tourism…makes me want to visit the city all over again! Will be watching this post for “things to do” in other cities,.tho I’m not in india, ‘coz it gives me a warm cozy feeling about our country.

  16. My Kids do not like to go to malls, lots of walking, and not such play areas as you say. Also parents do not have option to drop off kids in the play area and roam off in the few malls I have seen.That might have been an incentive for me 😉

    That said why is it necessary to do so many things with the kids on weekends ? We have our weekend tour of grocery stores, some regular activity classes, a restaurant outing and hanging out with friends. Summer means to the park on weekends.

    Special outings are during holidays or long weekends. I do not remember as kids having so many things to do on weekends, a book and playing with friends or visiting relatives was the high point. I do admire some of the enriching things that you moms do with the kids on weekends. But honestly it totally stresses me out 😉

  17. Wow! That needn’t be a list only for the parents! Even we, elders, can try these things. Quite an insightful list you compiled there MM 🙂

  18. I am going to save this list for things to do in Delhi (whenever I can visit next)!
    Now I want someone to write/do something similar for my small little suburban town in North Carolina that my mom fondly calls “rural!”

  19. Lovely Lovely lovely… you made me crave for a Delhi winter (who cares id I dont have a child yet 😀 am more a kid in the heart to enjoy all that)..

    This is a wonderful effort.. Hope to see someone write about the things to do in Chennai.. trying to remember all that I did and loved as a kid..

    😀 its not just about the headache and tiresome walks.. imagine the heartache I get everytime I come from the mall and check my Credit card bill..

    We spent a whole day here just visiting an Arboretum with all the tulips and old forts.. waiting for my trip to the zoo in cincinnati this weekend.. again to look at the tulips and animals.. My mind feels so fresh after it instead of the headache that I get from the mall..

  20. Sorry for being rude ( anyway.. today is kinda not busy @ work).. but my reading for anybody who loves Tulip is:
    1) Never ever has done any kind of gardening
    2) which means that chances are that she is a female
    3) loves to just walk around a garden

    These tulips should be killed forever because:
    1) they bloom only for 2 weeks
    2) they cost too much to plant
    3) even if you try to get rid of them it is very tough.. their bulbs just know how to survive.. be it sub zero temp for 4 months or be it that you chop the buld halfway

    Me? I call them as poonam dhillon.. good when I was 8 year old..but after that an eyesore

    • 😀 he he he .. ah well.. not done any kind of gardening.. a female .. love to walk around gardens.. 😀 love tulips..

    • Er – the only maintenance is the first time you put the bulbs in. (and I am the female who also did the gardening in my home)
      They bloom only for 2 weeks…but they come up year after year marking Spring! What’s not to love!

      • What’s not to love? Space owned by a visitor, who shows up only for 2 weeks in a year!!

        Roses are good.. but if one is not into plants, then dhaniya, mirchi, tamatar ys fir baingan are much better bet… specially all of them have flowers before they turn into the edible thing.

        P.S.: to all, how to get rid of this habit of kids saying ‘thingie’? they think it’s cool… i think it is koyla

        • aap buddhe ho chuke hain. rehne dijiye. kids will say thingie – heck I have a friend who says thingie for everything (sounds rather obscene in certain places) but apparently people don’t want to think hard enough to frame a sentence anymore 🙂

  21. oh and sorry for clogging up ur comments space.. Just wanted to add this…

    On most Saturdays as a child I would be just sitting at my parents office as they couldnt leave me at home.. I used to do all this little tasks like counting the stock, counting coins, 😀 tearing papers and well being the little peon around there..

    In that process I learnt business and knew what it takes to make money to go to the lunch treat my parents would offer to keep me excited to come to office..

    Not all parents can take their kids to their workplace, but whenever it is possible they should.. I got to spend time with them and also well learn something about making money..

    • I think that is awesome. I learnt to do work in my dad’s office. And yes, I learned to sew at my mom’s boutique. Sadly those arent options for those whose parents are in a corporate set up.

  22. Lovely lovely post MM. Growing up my dad used to take us kids to the cricket games he played every weekend. It was much fun and we got pampered by all his team mates. Fond memories those were. I am not a big fan of malls and rarely take the kids to one and they are 13 and 11 now. It is only recently that the older one will request to go to the mall to pick stuff up but in that case it is strictly a place to shop, not hang out. Since there weather here is nice year round, we’ll play basketball or volleyball with the kids out in the driveway, watch food network with the kids on TV or drive around finding places to eat since the we are a family of foodies. Am going to bookmark this post to come back to when we visit Delhi the next time around 🙂

  23. Awesome! The attention you give to such things amazes me! I was in Delhi for 3 days with my cousins months back and couldnt get enough of it. I seriously do not understand how all the malls in Gurgaon are packed with people.
    PS: Brat and Bean are two of the luckiest kids I know 🙂

  24. The one thing I did as a child apart from the usual zoo-ing,park-ing and beach-ing..was spending a lot of time with grandparents. Cousins would also be there, granny used to divide all the chotu motu household work among us and we used to do it happily! Helping her in papad and vadaam making in the summers, making small garlands of the garden jasmine flowers,watering the plants,plucking henna leaves for a nice homemade mehndi…were some of the things we did. I believe this bonding is essential for children.

  25. MM, you are just so awesome. I will tell you why. I started reading the post and agreeing to every bit of it. I was surprised you said malls tire you too. I thought we were just an insane family who felt so.

    But then I came to the part where you mention things to do in Delhi. As I kept reading more and more, I was more in awe of you for having done all of that with your kids.

    I no longer live in Delhi. But if I ever return to the city, I know what awaits me.

    • well a lot of it we havent done yet because its not age appropriate. but they are ideas i have and i will follow through. for instance they are too young to go serious rock climbing or cycling around the city. but we’ve done a lot of the rest. and thank you 🙂

  26. Yay! Someone else thinks of food as much as I do 🙂

    And I am allergic to Mall fun zones as well. The only place that the kids love to shop is the “potti kadai” that sells stationery, to buy YET ANOTHER set of crayons/markers/paints that will half disappear in 90 minutes flat! Oh well. All in the name of creativity.

    Your city sounds fabulous – altho’ mine is not half bad.

  27. Lovely post. When we lived in Vizag, my folks would, with 2 other families, organise beach picnics. Couple of sheets, heavy picnic hampers and water. And we were set. The kids played in the water all day, the adults chatted around and played volleyball and a lovely day was spent. Such beautiful memories. Same thing with the market – trips. People have laughed at my dad from training my sister and me on how to buy our meat and fish and veggies. So many years later, the thought of the smelly, dirty, fly- ridden fish markets brings a huge grin to my face.
    I am going to move to Delhi, next chance I get. I landed today to a drizzly, dust- storm. And the view of Humayun’s tomb, when the plane was descending – so hard not to fall in love with.

  28. Wow…you really are such a committed person. That long post and you know the par that struck me was (why is it that whenver im done and i go back to read the line Im looking for I never find it??) about toning down our expectations so the kids never feel like they got shortchanged and they can easily enjoy a walk if you’re enjoying it too.
    My legs turn to lead when I step into a mall too. We recently started going to malls here and just for the exact same reason – (frayed shirts!) and its like Im suffocating and walking in a bad dream where my legs are stuck in really thick sticky glue making it a struggle for me to move. Malls reek of a fake life to me.
    The list is wonderful. You just added more colour to my Delhi Trip dream. Wish things were that simple here too. I guess its upto us. I’d kill to just walk down a beach and eat peanuts or go boating and puppet show watching! 😦

  29. I stopped going to malls. You know I buy all our stuff at estate/garage/ thrift stores.

    Because I dont, the kids dont either. Our fav place in the Bay Area is Half Moon Bay, different kinds of beaches to explore. In fact, I am heading there right now 🙂

  30. Hi MM.. Kudos to you for compiling the list…and also considering the idea! I’m a mom to a 2-yr old daughter and we enjoy our weekends in Seattle doing rounds of inexpensive but fun places here like the ones you mention in Delhi…Friends and relatives in India (mostly in Mumbai-Pune area) are astounded as I recall our trips… IF I HAD A DIME FOR EVERY TIME SOMEBODY TOLD ME THAT HOW THE SAME THING IS NOT POSSIBLE IN INDIA I WOULD BE A RICH WOMAN… And all the time I want to repeat to them that “it is possible even in India – you just need to have a mindset for it”… Keep up the good work… Hope my family gets a chance to visit Delhi sometime soon, I have lovely memories of my years at the IITD campus 🙂

  31. awesome.. awesome.. simply awesome!!!! i have tried most of the places but i am still not out of options!! now i know where am i going next weekend!! Thanks

  32. Your post reminded me of my childhood 🙂 We used to have thursdays and sundays as holidays. And mostly every thursday my parents used to take me for an outing,to either Juhu beach,Hanging gardens or simply to the market. It used to be so much fun! That time I didnt know anybody in my friend circle going for such outings.

    Your post is so informative. Loved No.23 🙂

  33. I feel so guilty that I dont take my Aghoo out often enough. She is in day care all week long and when weekend comes- I am consumed by chores.Laundry/ cleaning the house/cooking/ prepping food for the week( veggies/ dosa batter etc)… I dont have the energy to take her out.. We usually take her to the neighbor hood playground or the nearby lake- thats about it. At 14 months, we still need to work around her food and nap times.. but i do feel really guilty 😦

  34. It has been a year since we moved here and am not exaggerating it here if i say that I havent taken th ekiddo to the mall for ‘entertaining’ purpose…but whoa! the things we did together…hmm let me see,

    1. Veggie picking – you wont believe what fun the kiddo had..we hand picked all veggies, okra,eggplant,green beans, tomatoes and peppers from a local farm

    2. we wen tto franklin conservatory- it is the most beautiful place to go visit …something similar to our botanical gardens

    3. parks and usual rides

    4. ice cream parlours almost every week – not the ones in malls but the local ice cream makers in Ohio

    5. Organic, yes i mentioned, organic flower farm….

    6.after 4 and half years , the kids watched her FIRST movie, Tangled at the local kiddie theater..

    7.petting zoos- we have yearly membership cards..i go there almost every alternate week in the summer

    8. oh the best of all times is when we take our chalks out and start drawing on the pavements while i get some walking done in and around our apartment neighbour hood…

    9.COSI science center…

    but this week it is father daughter reunion with a movie night and watchin Rio..her second full length movie…

    all this and more being a single mother 🙂 do i get a special mention? but the funny part is, while back in chennai, Art and I realised how similar we are in mos tof the aspects…including the hang outs and the places we buy things 🙂 ahahha…am just honored to be even thinking alike with her 🙂

    hey MM, yes next time you are in chennai, you must take the kids out to Guindy park – a mini zoo..not well kept but atleast a better place than to be at the mall..

    another good place in chennai is the toy library in velachery and also this :, my friend from my ex-company quit her IT job to start her own business on thematic workshops for kids…i admire her 🙂

    • Hi Indu,

      Looks like you are in/around Columbus area. I am just curious about the veggie picking farm, my daughter would love to be there. Would you please give some info (name/address) of the farm? We did go for apple/pear picking last fall & had a fun time. Berry picking season hasn’t arrived yet, but there might be some veggie picking going around nowadays.

      Another good place is ‘The Wilds’, where you can see freely roaming rhinos, giraffes, deers & some caged tigers, from open or closed bus & can even go for an open van ride. It is just ~1 hr drive from Columbus and the bus/van ride there is also roughly the same. If you have the zoo membership, you can get discount for the Wilds. We went there last year and my daughter is already demanding to go there in summer.

      Another good place you might be aware of is the Hocking hills but my daughter didn’t enjoy it so much (may be she was too small, ~2.5 years, for the hiking last year). We did saw the older kids having a great time there.

      And last but not the least, the Alum Creek State Park beach. We go there almost every weekend in summer.

      Thanks & best,

  35. and the best part of having a best friend of the spouse married to an american? almost all th elong weekends we are at their lake house, literally soaking in the lake like a buffallo! the kids loves water is an understatement..

  36. Gosh, a mention in your post and I have visitors from across the globe! 🙂

    There is one small and very basic reason for me continuing to read this blog over the years, simply because of the fun you and OA find in parenting. Thats been the only defining thing in our life as parents- the sheer and simple fun of being with a child.

    A mall would distract us, and the child, from interacting with each other. So then where is the fun? Its like putting a child inside a giant TV- the colours, the sounds, the stimulation. It IS tiring.

    We dont actively look for child friendly, or indeed educational things to do. If the parents are interested in something, passionate about something, then its lovely to take the child along- for her to discover the world through her parents’ prism. So taking my child to an art gallery never seemed odd to us. And taking her to all these ‘odd’ places meant that she was always curious, with no time to be whiney.

    I walk to the vegetable market, its often hot, dusty, whatever. I take my child along. Simple. We live in a hot and dusty country, why on earth would i protect her from this???

    I confess I have taken my child to many very very odd places, but I have never worried about her getting bored. How can one be bored in a bhojpuri music distributor’s godown in Benares, or a rock show in shillong, a dusty village meeting in rajasthan, or a train ride in a bombay local? If thats where I am, she and I get to giggle, complain, exclaim over everything together. I am not even allowed into the play area in the mall! How RUDE!

  37. Started compiling the lists…will wait till may be next monday to send across the final list to you, since people may send in more over the weekend.Also, will link up Artnavy’s blog as it is since there is so much to learn from that 🙂 chalega na?

  38. I sooo miss Delhi.. most winter weekends see me scurrying back to Delhi. Gurgaon has little ‘hang out zones’ if any.

    Okay so a few you may wish to add to the list:

    – Children park : lovely place and a lot of memories.

    – India Gate, picnic style. they’d never forget them. a frisbee, a balloon, thats all you need to have a sooooper time. only catch – you cant just drive around there anymore, being in GGN.

    – Science Museum, bang opposite purana qila, the kids will freak out on the physics floor, it’s fascinating even for adults. the brat should love the Dino section.

    – Qutab minar – doesnt have much except wide parks, not great but could be worth a visit every couple of years.

    – Bahai/Lotus temple – somehow even infants dont cry/make noise in the prayer room. let the kids experience serenity and hopefully their inner voice.

    – ZOOO!! but of course you have it on the list, but i love it love it love it to repeat here! they even have a giraffe there now.. awwww.

    – Ok, this one is very special, i dont know if they even have it anymore – Bal Bhawan (near ITO) used to hold daily hobby classes during summer mornings – pretty unorganised too, you could wander off and on all the time. it’s unfuckinbelievable. only kids, no adults. to a kid it’s a magical world, esp to a kid with a wee bit of imagination. they even have a toy train. enchanting. my memories from there are hazy, somewhat like Alice in wonderland’s. not even sure if it was all real or a dream. but you’d need older kids to give your children company and security – we used to go in a bunch of about 10 kids – from ages 6/7 (me) to 12/13 (the didis/bhaiyyas)

    – pragati maidan, for just roaming about and catching whatever is playing on shakuntalam. they often have nice concerts at lal chowk or hamsadhwyani. and some exhibitions etc. pretty cool hang out in a nice weather.

    – pretty soon the amaltas (right?) will be in full bloom and the trees would be laden with yellow. just drive around lutyen’s delhi, maybe the embassy area, stop the car at any place and let the kids out –

    – chanakyapuri momos corner, i am not sure about kids but heck teens love it!

    – good old janpath for some silly shopping and this and that. they may like it maybe.

    i love the malls for movies and for the games arcade. rest, pass – you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. having said that, i love the DT mega mall, it’s too tiny and seems too unpopular to be a mall – and if i go there in my night pyjamas nobody bats an eyelid.

    I remember Dolls Museum fascinated me as a child, but i dragged my husband there couple of years ago, and was disappointed. zero upkeep.

    will add more as i think of them. and please, do add some from GGN if you can think of them. i like to take drives/walks in phase I and phase II, which seem like the only humane spots to me. but i am not sure what’s there in it for the kids.

  39. I hope the botanical garden (if thats what they’ve called it?) they’re developing at gurgaon’s entry (from MG road) will be worth spending hours in.

  40. Wow MM! Your post is so tempting me to move to Delhi! So many lovely choices. Will wait for a couple of years for Chutku to grow up and then plan a loong Delhi trip 😀

    And Bangalore has many choices too – unfortunately all the parents I see around me take their kids to malls – to eat and to shop and to just let them run around – Sad… and they keep telling me that I dont have many other options and have challenged me to see where I will take my little one!

  41. Vow….feels amazing to know that I’m not the only one who finds malls stressful and tiring…my legs and head ache within an hour or so there….no kids as of yet….but they will never be mall rats nor get video games and all such non sense …I have seen 2 year olds glued to TV for crazy hours and playing games…and lose respect for such parents….why have kids when you can’t spend time..

  42. Having a light bulb moment! There are so many of us who think malls have no character and are constantly on the lookout for simple, creative ideas for kids day out, birthday parties etc.

    MM, you should totally have a separate site about things to do for kids across cities, activities at home, cute DIY stuff (eg. those bottles with sprouts you gave out as return gifts, painted stone bugs), creative party ideas for home parties, home decor, gardening and whatever else you like!

    All the mom and children portals are flooded with spam from daycare centres and other junk and all the good info is too hard to dig out.

    Check out this blog –

  43. Hi!
    I completely agree with what you have said in your post. My husband and I hate malls and our 2 yr.old daughter has rarely been to one.

    I have recently moved to Chennai from Kolkata and am excited to discover this city.BTW, some of the things to do in Kolkata:

    1. Trip to Science City. Educative and fun!

    They have a beautiful landscaped garden, lots of toys that explain science concepts in a fun way. All in all, a wonderful experience!

    2. A picnic at the Maidan, especially in winter. The weather is beautiful and I simply love the fact that Kolkata is one of the few cities in India which still retains nice, open spaces.

    3. Trip to Victoria Memorial.

    4. Trip to Birla Planetarium

    5. Trip to Alipore Zoo. No elephants anymore, but still fun.

    6. Picnic at Millenium Park and a boat ride on the Ganges

    7. I used to reside in Salt Lake City, and we used to often visit Banabitan Park, especially in winter, when the flowers are in full bloom and it is a riot of colours. Besides, kids can feed the ducks and geese.

  44. I applaud your enthusiasm.I always plan on doing a zillion things with the kids but when it comes to execution I have zero patience.sigh.

    Here is a pretty good (although not exhaustive) list of things to do with kids in Bangalore.

    The comments following the post also have interesting options.

    I totally admire the way some of you blogger moms(of course i am aware all of you are much more than that) raise your kids.

  45. Hi MM
    Have been a reader of your blog for sometime . Thought it was high time to de-lurk and say Hi 🙂
    Loved this post. I’ve a 3 yr old daughter and we’re planning to move back to India ( B’lore )in couple of years. Have bookmarked this post for then.

    Totally love ur blog ,BTW. and am eagerly waiting for a new post everyday. Keep them coming, pls!!

  46. While you are at it… can you, with help from your readers from Bglr, do a – ‘How to keep 20-somethings out of malls(not pubs, okay!) in Bangalore.’? 😉

  47. I used to enjoy going to the science museum in Delhi. Its quite close to India gate side. We would walk from home (then Sangli apts on copernicus marg) to the museum and spend a couple of hours trying all the experiments. It had fun things like this huge maze through which you could throw a ball and learn all about speed and acceleration and then there were these mirrors to learn about light reflection.. all very cool stuff, fun and educational. I don’t know if it still exists and in what state it is but if its there, you should check it out.

  48. Will keep revisiting the comments for for Mumbai stuff. Clearly a dearth so far 😦 Please put up a link if and when someone does.
    I am visiting later this year with my kids and had a horrible realization that while we trot all over on vacations and see different cities, in my own hometown, my children only go to meet relatives. No wonder they start resisting trips to India after a certain age.

  49. I guess my parents had it easier since there were no malls to distract us but they did try to come up with interesting things for us to do on vacations and summers. For the commentator who wanted a list of things in Pune here goes. It’s been years since I’ve actually done most of these things so please check that these actually work for you:
    – Picnic on pune university campus, it has a huge campus and some parts are very well maintained and others are like being in the wilderness, avoid more isolated areas to escape canoodling couples 🙂
    – Parvati temple, nice hike to the top and then a pretty view of the city
    – Peshwe park: a small zoo, but the only one in the city
    – Snake garden: Interesting variety of snakes
    – Saras baug: nice park for evenings with fountains etc. lots of junk food available in the area
    – Bird sanctuary: Head out early and check out the birds on the banks of the mula mutha near Kalyani nagar
    – Aga khan palace and Kasturba Gandhi memorial, nice grounds to picnic on.
    – Shaniwar wada: Bit of Pune history for older kids
    – British council library: Has a nice kids section and used to have story hours etc. nice and cool on summer afternoons.
    – Day trips: trip to Sinhagad, Bhaja and Karla caves, Shivneri etc. lots of old forts that are only a couple of hours drive away from the city. A lot of them have access roads to the top where you can picnic and with older kids you can trek from the base.

    • We do enjoy our trips to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoo at Katraj and Saras Baug. A few more to add for Pune –

      1. Dinosaur Park in Pimple Gurav
      2. Appu Ghar in Pimpri
      3. Pu La Deshpande/Japanese Garden on Sinhagadh road
      4. Also Mahableshwar is quite close and fun for a day trip, to go strawberry picking (on from Feb to June – or until it starts raining), a boating trip at Lake Venna followed with a horse ride, the awesome sandwiches at Mapro Garden
      5. Krishnai water park near Sinhagadh
      6. Empress and Lodhia gardens near race course and Hadapsar
      7. Abhiruchi at Sinhagadh road for some village touch and a good maharashtrian meal
      8. Chokhi Dani – Commercialised but good fun
      9. Surya Shibir – Had visited it around 6 years ago, is a fantastic place in the middle of hills next to a lake, is a good learning experience in minimalistic living and recycling
      10. Lonavala, Khandala are closeby for day outings
      11. Joshi railway museum
      12. Alibaugh is not too far for a weekend getaway, where you have the beach, fort, horse rides, good food, There are some fun water sports Mandwa, that is where you take the ferry to India Gate, Mumbai
      13. Treks on one of the tekdis within the city, amd yet to try this one, planning to do soon
      14. The one or the other fair mostly during the winters, near Khadki or city center. Had tried Bhimthadi this year but found it way too crowded
      15. There are lots and lots of parks in Pune which am yet to explore
      16. Ananda Valley is again good, offers some rock climbing and other such sports I beleive

      Would love to hear on more stuff to do in Pune and thanks MM for initiating this. Delhi sounds so exciting, would definitely take a long vacation to be there someday…

  50. Oh I can never thank u enough MM for such an exhaustive and wonderful list ..we too hate going to malls and shelling out bucks on the stupid things they pass on for rides. Anyways I remembered after reading the Mughal Gardens tip ..this time we were there, Vansh just asked if we can go inside the Rashtrapati Bhawan and i asked the same to the closest guard who happened to be a pretty senior one and he responded in the affirmative. U just have to write a letter to I think Chief of Security (not sure but u can confirm once u go to submit the appli) and drop it off at an office in the President House itself ..on the entry opposite to RML hospital. You’ll find out exact details with a little more finding out. We were abt to move in less than a month but i am surely going to do that once we are back.

  51. Lovely post. Agree with you completely. The hubby and I end up going to malls most weekends because we don’t know what else to do most of the times. I have been trying to figure out what else we can do on weekends in Bangalore. I’ve been working on making my own list for Bangalore. The comments have helped a great deal. 🙂 Thanks everyone!

    Thanks, everyone!

  52. Many parents will love you for putting up the places that they can visit with their kids apart from going to those boring, tiring malls.. I lived in Gurgaon for 4.5 years… But never once I liked going to those malls.. every time I went, came back tired, exhausted, drained out.. I just dont like the Mall Culture..

  53. MM – you make me really really miss Delhi! I have done all of that as a child – doll museum, rail museum, picnics, science museum … Sigh!!

  54. Nice one MM! Kids and I walk across to Necklace Road often, almost everyday during the summer. I take them out on buses once in a while, since buses here arent crowded like the ones in bigger metros. Go to Sanjeevaiah Park regularly…not commercialised yet, so we get a lot of ‘fresh’ air! Visit Charminar, Golconda, Salarjung Museum, etc atleast once a year. Take them to meet cousins almost every other weekend. Enough activites round the year, never making us think of malls. Touch wood?

  55. Bookmarking this list for myself, for my June visit :-). Mom used to take me to Appu Ghar, to the museum, to CP (ALL the time!), Jantar Mantar, India Gate (again, ALL the time!), Shankar’s Doll Museum, the Childrens’ Museum, Dilli Haat…. the list goes on.

    Just two questions – is Bookworm still around at CP? And if possible, could you just mark which of these places are relatively easy to access via public transport?


  56. Thanks for this. In Delhi now but cowering from the heat. Wrote something for Bangalore and plan on making a trip to Delhi in December to really get the best of everything. I had an ambitious list of museums to check out and every bloody place (forgive my french) is closed on Monday. WTH? We have three days and had to cool our heels (shopping at CP….so not a total loss!) today. I really want to take the kids on a tour of Delhi based on the City of Djinns.

    And yeah, don’t get why the malls are so cool. When you do have to shop in shopping paradise (Delhi rocks for clothes and stuff), why would you not go to Janpath or Sarojini nagar or Connaught Place?

    Dakshinchitra rocks for kids and adults near Madras. From making your own pot to mehendi and other stuff kids can make/do/see themselves, the old homes are so beautiful. Went there on a trip with some friends from the US and the entire kids/adults collective went nuts.

    The Good Book Store in Madras (not totally sure of name) is just for children’s books published in India by Indian publishers. It’s near the Tulika offices. Went there and went nuts and in true Indian books style, pockets remained relatively untouched! 😀 Kids asked if we could live there forever. We were tempted, if the weather was better……

  57. Hi.. Commenting after long here, that too on an old post… I really like your list… Been to a lot of these places… Take your kids to the Metro museum in Patel Chowk on your way to or from CP.. The museum is in the metro station.. Your son would like it a lot… I always stop and stroll and feel proud of it. You can buy souvenirs also there 🙂

  58. Pingback: Endless summer afternoons | The Mad Momma

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