A close shave

‘Are you home?’ she screamed, her voice barely audible above the shrieking and shouting in the background.

No I’m not, I said, ‘what’s wrong?’

Are you home, she shouted again. No, I repeated, what is wrong?

By now the shrieks in the background were getting louder and I began to feel my heart sink. A child was screaming in pain. There were loud voices. She was distracted while trying to talk to me. ‘I need your help’ she said before cutting the line. I called back, my fingers unsteady – WHAT did she need my help for?

The OA and I were on our way to the railyway station to drop Chhota Nana and Chhoti Nani and Cousin J. And the Brat and Bean were playing in the apartment complex play area with the maid overseeing them.

The more I asked, the more hysterical she sounded and I could get no sense out of her. The OA jammed brakes, unsure of what was wrong and whether we’d have to turn and rush home. Finally she managed to get it out – Her 4-year-old son had fallen from his cycle and was hurt and she needed help. I told her not to panic and that I’d do something.

I called Cousin K who is staying with me during his summer internship and told him to wear a pair of jeans, grab the other set of car keys and rush down to the park and look for a spot where there was sure to be a crowd and a bleeding child. I messaged them each other’s numbers and we went on to the railway station because now we were too far from Gurgaon to be of any use to them.

Cousin K drove her to the emergency ward of a nearby hospital where they stitched up the little boy whose head had split open. And for the rest of the evening I couldn’t do anything about the knot in my stomach. That could have been my child. For the few awful minutes until she could bring herself to tell me what was wrong the worst had passed before my eyes.

The OA and I rush to her home after we finish with the railway station where we hurriedly dump Chhota Nani, Nani and Cousin J in a heap with their luggage, even while they urge us to rush back and help. Cousin K was there and had been of a lot of help. Driving them to hospital, being there with her, and now going to collect their elder son from the neighbour’s place where he’d been left. Cousin K is a gem. Being a local guardian has never been so easy and he’s done more for us in the last 2 years than we have for him.

The little boy is quiet and pale, his head entirely bandaged up like a cap. He put up a fight when they gave him a shot in the head before they could stitch it up. Cousin K quietly tells me he’s never seen so much blood and was close to throwing up. The OA and I  exchange glances – it was more than most college boys would do for strangers. I offer to send them dinner, keep their elder son for the night, send them lunch, anything else they need. But for the grace of God, that could have been my child, both had been downstairs on their new cycles too, cycling around with them.

And it is for reasons like this that neither she nor I can go back to full-time work.  Not right now at any rate. Because of the maid who burnt my 7 month old son. The burn scar is fading as his stomach goes from round baby tummy to a flat, little man belly. But I carry the scars in my heart and they will stay a lifetime along with the stretchmarks and the cesarean scar.  I’ll never forgive myself that 45 minute grocery run and trusting someone else with a piece of my life. Because my child will never mean as much to anyone else as he does to me. No one else will peel their eyes and watch out for him as he turns the corner on the bike and skids. No one else will notice him shiver as he passes the AC. No one else knows the difference between him being sleepy and angry. Which is not to say that no harm will come to him on my watch, but to say that I’d rather be the person on watch than anyone else.

I wonder what my maid would have done if it were one of mine who had been hurt so badly and I draw a blank. She’s uneducated, cannot dial my number and so I have it on redial  – but she’d not be able to get someone else to make that call down in the park. After a particularly bad delivery herself, she’s lost full use of one arm and walks with a limp. But she’s  gentle and kind and loves the kids. None of those qualities are of any use in an emergency.

I recall a post some years ago when I’d poked gentle fun at the kids who wear helmets when they cycle. We all learnt to cycle without helmets. And we all fell and got scraped and bruised. But it’s not everyday that I am in my home and can be called immediately. Like this – on my way to the railway station or to office for my weekly meetings or out for an interview or a shoot. I am not always available. And it is this that makes the huge difference.

When we were kids, Mama was always home and help was within earshot. Today no one has time for anyone else, parents are at work and neighbours won’t bother unless they see blood seeping out from below your door. Even if my maid could dial, I’d probably be two hours away from home. Two hours too late to be of any earthly use to my child.

At my last job, I’d blanch each time my home number flashed on my mobile screen. Sometimes it was a simple request – Mama, can we watch TV now instead of the night? Mama can we have Maggi? At other times it was worse -He has a fever or, she’s broken out in a rash. But it was all within control. I’d be home in 30 minutes and most days nothing happened in that 1.5 hours between their and my getting home. But from Gurgaon I don’t have the heart to do more than short quick trips out and I am most at peace when I know there is a family member home with the kids.

And the truth is that crash helmets can only protect you on cycles – what about the rest of the day? The OA carries a scar (very Harry Potter-esque) on his forehead from falling down a flight of stairs in school. I look at the mother’s tired face and see that she’s aged in those few hours since her son fell. I know this is one more nail in the coffin of her career. Only a few days ago she spoke to me about how she was wondering if it was too late to go back to work after her ten year break. Only a few days ago she took on a short assignment and was thrilled to be back in the work force.

And then I notice her arms. They’re covered in his blood. Dried blood doesn’t look as scary as angry, red, flowing blood. It looks brown, paint like and deceptively tame. In fact you will never know that it is blood unless you’ve been told it is. And yet it tells a tale if you care to listen. She follows my gaze and shrugs in embarrassment – I haven’t had a chance to wash up yet. I nod in understanding. It’s an image I’m not going to forget in a hurry. I mentally write off the call I got in the morning, again checking on whether I was interested in a certain job – a rather tempting offer. And I tell myself that maybe it is time I finally learnt to drive.

Ode to the (dying) Marlboro man

The strike of a match and a flame lights up, illuminating his face for a second before it goes out. Only the dark glowing red tip of the cigarette remains, as he sits in the dark, brooding. Thinking thoughts. At some point you hear strains of music as he plucks at the guitar strings. A snatch of a song. An unbidden memory.

My earliest memories are of curling into my father’s chest as he smoked a last cigarette for the night. The smell of cigarettes hung thick in the air, mingling with Ma’s perfume and that is what home has always smelt like to me. For a non-smoker and a teetotaller I’m pretty tolerant of both, some might even say, encouraging. It’s what a man was meant to smell like. Brut or Old Spice and cigarettes.

It’s the image I guess. I dated smokers until I married the equally squeaky clean OA! There is a certain intensity to smokers. The carelessly dangling cigarette adds layers they may or may not possess. The focus as they lean forward to accept a light, the first deep drag, the smell of cigarette hanging around them (some might disagree, but it’s like cooking fish in the house – to some it’s disgusting, others will drool over it) and the wisps of smoke curling around them. To me, the Marlboro man was always ‘The Man’. But the alpha male is dying a slow death and well he must if he has to coexist with me.

And then, it’s 2011, who smokes anymore?! And so it is that the Bean chases Chhota Nana around the balcony where he slips out for a quiet smoke. “Why are you smoking? It’s bad for your health. Your lungs will turn to  gold (she means coal – I taught her that).”

And I laugh as I watch him hastily stub out his cigarette rather than invite the ire of his 4 year old grand daughter. His wife of 20 years smiles at a 4 year old doing what she’s tried unsuccessfully for the last 2 decades.

I wonder what lies ahead. What my daughter and her generation will find interesting in a man. Will they be handsome, will they be rich, will they be non-smokers with smooth chests and armpits? Will I have to take the Brat and the Bean to wax their legs to the salon together? *puke*

Dear Abhay Deol,

I may not think you are the hottest,  but thank you, thank you for not succumbing to pressure and shaving your chest. Thank you for doing this for my son and for the other young boys out there who might soon have had smoother legs than mine if not for your taking a stand.

Much respect,

MM

Sigh. Excuse the babbling and rambling. This is the result of a 2 am scribble.

Of comings and goings

This week (okay this is an old post, so it’s no longer this week!) has been crazy. Tambi arrives at 2 am, Chhota Nana arrives at 5 am, Tambi leaves at 5 pm, Dad arrives at 1 am, Chhota Nana leaves at 5 am, Mum arrives… . And so on and so forth. Cousins K & J are in the midst of exams and rushing here to meet the family.

And in the midst of this we had the Bean’s ear ache emergency, we watched Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides one night and Fast and Furious 5 a couple of nights before that. Is it just me or does watching 3D suck? Anyhow, we’ve spent so much time in and out of the airport that we’re planning on finding out if there are loyalty cards available for frequent visitors.

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At least thrice I saw grown kids – maybe in their late teens or *shudder* even in their early twenties racing around T3, pushing each other on luggage trolleys and screaming hysterically. Made me want to stop and slap them -none of us would allow our little kids to do this. It’s 2 am, we’re tired, it’s raining, we’re soaked, there’s a storm and half the flights have been re-directed to Bombay and we’re not sure what has happened to Tambi’s flight and suddenly they come barrelling around a corner almost knocking us over. I bet these are the idiots who would be odious enough to say they don’t want crying toddlers on a long haul flight.

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It’s amusing to see what people take pride in. I recall a classmate who went abroad for a year during school, on an exchange program. She said her favourite part of travelling was – wait for it – walking out of the airport in high heels, sunglasses and a good piece of luggage. Not the travel, the sights, the food, the people – just strutting her stuff out of the airport!!  The rest of us cracked up and died laughing on the floor. So maybe she was 17 and foolish, but it’s still a memory that makes me laugh till I cry. And yet every so often you notice someone walking out of the airport after a 15 hour flight with their sunglasses on their heads (why? its 2 am and pitch dark and you’ve just exited a flight) and in high heels (eh?) and a very smug expression. Oh well. Whatever floats their boat.

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No matter how swanky an airport you build, if it’s in India, we will Indianise it. We walk in from the parking lot to find people sleeping all over the floor. And this, the new T3 terminal. Shoes in a row, suitcases under their heads and snoring on the shiny marble floors as we walk around them and a floor polisher drones past them. I see  cab drivers who have got out of the heat/rain and are curled up in the window sills awaiting fares.

A group of women in burkhas sit quietly in a corner until a man comes and gives them a packet of food. They spread it out on the floor and eat off it without a word, the dust from our shoes flying around them. The food over, they drop their veils and you don’t hear another word out of them. The night wears on and they sit straight-backed in the middle of the floor without sagging in the absence of back support.

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Two girls walk out pushing trolleys. One turns to the other and drawls in an American accent – “Hey, gimme your number.” And then drops the accent and says in a pure Delhi accent – Phone kariyo. I am very amused by the way accents shift. The Brat and Bean pull it off all the time and embarrass me.

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Rows of drivers and attendants wait with boards to collect visitors. The foreigners shake hands even with the drivers and wish them the time of day, refusing to let them carry their luggage. The Indians almost immediately hand their luggage on to willing hands without any acknowledgment. I saw a young woman shove her bags on to an elderly man who bent double pushing it.

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It is not inexpensive to pick up people from the airport anymore. Rs 80 per person who enters the waiting lounge (normally atleast 2-3 people). Flights get delayed and you end up spending half the night and some of the morning there, needing cups of coffee to stay awake – Rs 100 each at least. By 2 am you are decidedly nibblish and that calls for a muffin/croissant. And then as the good OA tends to do,  you lose the parking ticket and end up paying a Rs 1000 fine. We may as well have gone out to a good dinner!

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It’s funny that we should have just discussed matters of ideology and belief because my dad just got back here with three beyblades for the Brat, a baby doll for the Bean (she’s been feeding and rocking it since morning), a Kindle for me and an iPad for the OA. Being indulged doesn’t feel all that bad either.

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The very people who play by the rules and remember basic courtesy abroad, forget it all once their feet touch our precious desi soil. Luggage trolleys are abandoned in the midst of the parking lot. Which means you rush in for a flight and find you can’t park in the empty lot because of an abandoned trolley. You stop in the middle of the road, holding up traffic, hop out, move the trolley to a corner and then park.

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A man walks by with a bawling baby in his arms. The child is bringing down the waiting lounge roof. The man looks tired and is barely doing anything to pacify the child. But what is worse is the toddler trailing behind him. She’s screaming too and he is ignoring her. I wonder how long he’s been travelling with the two of them and how tired he is. And how tired they are. At the other end is a blonde  chasing her preschooler who is whooping and running as fast as his little legs can carry him. She is keeping an eye on a toddler strapped into a stroller and is almost cross eyed with the effort. She finally turns to me with a desperate look in the eye. I grin at the preschooler and hop into his path, stalling his runaway plans. He glares at me and gives up without a fight and heads back to his mother. I consider suggesting to both parents to pool their resources and handle the four kids. But then I mind my own business and head off.

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