Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cars, trains and planes

The last time we traveled 20+ hours on a plane with BA was when he was a teeny-tiny baby. He was the model baby on the flight - he mostly ate and then slept in his bassinet. When he wasn't doing either of those activities, he adorably waved his tiny fists and legs and smiled. He cried for about 15 minutes just before we landed in the US. That was it. Therefore, whenever any other baby on that plane fussed, S and I smugly looked at each other, looked at BA and then took full credit for our well-behaved baby (I know).

On to India
This time round, for our trip to India we were under no delusion about getting a repeat performance from BA on the plane. For, BA is now an active toddler and even 10 minutes of passive waiting in a waiting room before a doctor visit gets him antsy. To our pleasant surprise the trip from USto India wasn't half bad. Sure, there was a short stretch when BA gave a very good impression of a wailing toddler but overall, the journey wasn't anywhere as bad as we imagined it would be. So S and I felt some of our earlier smugness returning.

The plan
Due to ignorance being bliss, we had planned our India "vacation" such that it was packed with travel. We were traveling to 4 different cities using three different modes of transportation. We were hoping that BA would cope and were planning to learn travelling-with-baby lessons on the go.

The first trip was to a city a few hours away from Chennai. We had planned to drive. I packed two pieces of luggage for BA. One containing all his clothes and the other containing his food, toys, diapers etc. Hey, we were going in a car! For the 3-day trip, I think I pretty much packed up everything that we had brought for BA from the US for the 3-week India trip. The car journey started off fine - but BA threw up promptly after his regular breakfast. Okay, note added to travel handbook: feed baby lightly during travel.

Our destination was a resort and it was quite kid-friendly. BA *loved* it. He was like the penguin in Happy Feet. He just couldn't stand still and insisted on walking by himself, never mind that he has a tendency to treat the whole world like one big flat surface and walks accordingly. He examined everything: the grass, the stairs, the planter, the table, the beach. Everything. And he had this huge grin on his face like someone had shown him the doors to heaven. Seeing him so happy made everyone around him happy. That was a great trip.

We traveled to the next destination by train. This time round, I realized that *we* would have to do the lugging around of the luggage and culled BA's packing to one bag instead of two. On the train, as the amma-ji, I got the "honor" of sharing my berth with BA. I had originally planned to sleep on the lower berth with BA and jokingly said that in case everyone else heard a thump in the middle of the night, it was just me falling off. S came up with the suggestion that BA and I should sleep on the upper berth instead because that berth had the vertical metal supports which would prevent me from falling off.

I am so glad that I took up on that suggestion. Turns out that my toddler who is only a little more than 1/3rds of my height thought he was entitled to 2/3rds of the berth. I kid you not. BA happily spread his tiny frame across most of the berth and fell asleep while I perched on tiny sliver of the berth still available and prayed that the metal support would be able to bear my weight. And then, when I got up to grab some water, BA further spread himself into the teeny-tiny space that I had. Dude!!

That was, least to say, an *interesting* experience. On the bright side, BA at least slept quite well (the same could definitely not be said of his amma).

The third destination, we traveled to by plane. This time round, I managed to squeeze BA's stuff in 2/3rd of one bag. Ha, turns out baggage too expands (or contracts) to fill the space available. BA did quite okay on the short flight - our boy after all, was a veteran of super long-haul flights and a short flight was barely a blip on the radar.

And, the domestic traveling was done
After all the travels, BA, predictably, fell sick. We were nevertheless quite proud of him for having been a trooper during all the travelling. He had thoroughly enjoyed the crowds, the change of scenery, the new environment, pretty much everything. As far as he was concerned, he had had a good time.

Back to the US
Remember our earlier smugness during the flight from US to India? Let me tell you one thing which will serve you very well in life: Never be smug. Because, if you are, the smugness will come back and bite you in the behind. Our journey from India to US was the stuff nightmares are made of. BA, maybe due to his still lingering cold or due to being cooped up after open spaces or due to just being a toddler, just couldn't settle down on the plane.

Remember all those plane journeys you made you were child-less when there used to be this one kid on the plane who just wouldn't stop fussing and whom you felt like tossing off the plane? Well, on our flight back to the US,that kid was BA. BA did not sleep. Neither did S and I. I doubt very much that any of the passengers in a 10ft radius around us slept either. For BA expressed his displeasure frequently and vocally. We were 3 hours from San Francisco when BA finally slept. That was One. Long. Journey.

Post-vacation glow
In all though, the trip to India was totally worth it. I think I have now become a 100% ISO-certified mother. While I had a great time meeting up with family and friends, my greatest source of pleasure during the trip was seeing just how much BA enjoyed himself. I delighted in his every smile and laugh. Seeing him happy made me even happier.

Back when a baby was just a nebulous idea in my future, one of my friends with kids said that the greatest thing about having kids was experiencing the world all over again through their eyes. I kind of understood her back then. Only now do I realize just how much joy that can bring.


SK said...

Beuatiful post Arch :--)
Good to know you and BA had a great time in India :--)
Psst what will happen to toddlers' reputation if there was no drama on planes, you wouldnt have anything to write about! :--)

Anita said...

BA is sure a travel veteran now! I am sure the other passengers in the U.S. flight did not mind at all ;)

Bharathis said...

BA is a goodie goodie toddler Even his fussy cry is too sweet to cause annoyance! We enjoyed his visit so much☺

Archana said...

SK - true :-)! I only wish *my* toddler had not contributed quite so much towards maintaining that reputation!

Sindu - yeah, right!

Bharathis - only grandparents would say that a toddler fussing for some 8 hours straight would have sounded sweet ;-).