Sunday, 18 January 2009

Easy riders...

So tomorrow we will have reached our halfway mark on the trip. Things we have learned traveling with two young children? Well, you're never really going to fully immerse yourself in the book you're reading. Just when you manage to get through a few delightful paragraphs uninterrupted you will suddenly be jolted from your reverie by the sound of either a) shrieking (as one child pinches/punches/shoves/pulls the hair of the other) b) your spouse yelling disgustedly at you as you look up and notice what latest disaster has befallen your children due to your latent parenting style (this could be a bottle of mineral water overturned, your child about to do his business on the beach in full view of the general public, or perhaps a giant food stand full of crisps teetering and about to topple because your greedy 2 year old is trying to reach up and help himself to a bag.

Something else you will not get a lot of is lying on a padded chaise under a palm umbrella, sipping a cold drink and listening to your ipod, gently daydreaming whilst the hot Indian sun beats down upon your sun-starved body. For starters, where are your children while you're doing this? Guaranteed they're not quietly playing at your feet in the sand with the overpriced plastic sand buckets and spades you gallantly purchased two of on day one and which now lay broken as a motley assortment of useless plastic bits. You can also bet on the fact that they are both not sound asleep, having blissful afternoon naps in the shade, and being attentively watched over by several cooing Indian ladies as your husband and you get slowly and deliciously drunk on Kingfishers in the hot afternoon sun. Nope. Even if you were foolish enough to attempt such a manoever you would not last a moment before one or both of the monsters came at you with dangerous plastic implements raised high in the air, resembling angry vikings as they charged and deposited buckets and handfuls of sand on your newly conditioned hair. Trust me. i know.

So you see, after 7 days in paradise we have come to several conclusions. First of all, we love this place. We desperately want to come back here for at least six months and take a sabbatical, learn the language, write, meet some crazy and interesting people, make music, and generally set up a commune (or perhaps fake cult) for like minded individuals. (All those interested please apply sooner rather than later as places are likely to fill up fast) However, we have come to the conclusion that if any sort of sojourn is going to occur, we are going to have to budget for an 'Amma' - some local young girl with boundless enthusiasm who can come over daily and relieve us both for a few hours while we actually try and achieve something more than just mopping up mango juice, kissing stubbed toes and breaking up constant squabbles. We shall also have to find a cook who specializes in boiled eggs (the favored food of mr. egg and mr. dumps this trip) and aloo paratha and chai (for Mama). Tonight Dumpie discovered 'Veg Pakora' and demanded another plate after shoving most of the contents of one into his mouth before anyone got a look in. We shouldn't be surprised, 'Baby Carbs' loves anything fried, dipped in batter, sugar-coated or dripping in sweet stuff. He is also showing no signs of letting up on the 'moneeeeeeey' fixation. Today for example, he spent most of the morning waving around a 10 rupee note in all the locals faces until one enterprising old lady swiftly removed it from him and hid it in the folds of her sari - never to be seen again. Dumpie started yelling 'Moneeeeey Mama!" and pointing at her, and the toothless woman and i just exchanged looks while I tried to change the subject out of embarassment. Hey if the old biddy is clever enough to take it off the Dumps I say she deserves it. Plus it seems I've inherited that peculiarly British behavior of being loathe to draw attention to an awkward situation - even if it is someone else's making.)

Really, the only thing that seems to take precedence over the 'moneeeeeey' issue for Dumps is 'Nay'. For those of you who don't know, it means 'sweeties/candies'. He used to call it 'Nay Nay' but has shortened the noun to a mere monosyllabic 'Nay' now that he's turned two. He often sneaks off with my bag searching for 'nay' and driving me crazy squealing for it. If he does see me pop the odd bit of chocolate or a candy into my mouth, he'll take note of where i stashed the rest and at a later point in time when he and Egg find themselves alone (which is a fair bit given Jay's and my lackadaisical mode of parenting) and will alert Egg to their whereabouts so he can climb up and retrieve them. I can't tell you the number of times i've caught them red-handed. When they spot me (or hear me shriek in horror) they'll scarf the lot and stand defiantly giggling while chocolate runs down their chins.

Anyway, Jay and I are now roughing it for two nights in a beach front shack where we sit on our little balcony and listen to the waves crash, only our little speakers playing reggae for company. We're in Agonda, a quiet, uber-chilled beach. The local children shouted with glee upon seeing us arrive today and promptly picked up both boys in their arms and disappeared intermittently into their grass hut with our offspring - we of course having absolutely no idea what they were up to. At one point I got a bit paranoid and went in search of Egg, only to find him in a sharing circle with a mad American lady and her young daughter and a few local kids. They were all sat together in cheap plastic chairs having a rather good time watching a cat make a poo poo.

I'd like to end now by referring once again to my current comedic drinking of beer. I will only allow a Kingfisher to pass my lips, it must be cold, and I must either be in a stressed mood, boiling hot, or eating spicy food in order to happily partake. So that's pretty much all the time. Tonight at dinner Jay and I shared three giant bottles. Such odd behavior on my part. I haven't touched the stuff since university and even then i didn't like it - i just drank it because it was the thing to do, and university students budgets don't exactly stretch to expensive cocktails and fine vintagesm

. At this moment in time however, I surprise myself with how much I can enjoy an ice cold beer. What's next, the four of us riding a motorcycle all over the countryside?

Whoops, we've already done that. Don't freak out as it was safe, we went slowly, and a side benefit was that we amused the locals to no end. One set of boy legs, long set of hairy tanned man legs, tiny fat-toed baby sandal legs, and super dark Mama legs all crammed on the seat of a 2004 burgundy Enfield, ambling by on dusty roads and vibrating in perfect harmony...

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