Monday, December 21, 2015

India calling

Let me start this post with some stats. Of my life so far, I've spent half in India and half in Singapore. I'm in a fairly good position to somewhat understand, praise --- and bitch about --- both. My child, however, had not been to India at all. Because of her lung issues and our frequent midnight hospital runs in her early years, we'd been advised not to rush her first India trip. So we didn't. In fact, the last time we were in India was 2009.

But recently, we started feeling that it was time she saw the place where her parents were born and where a gazillion of her relatives live. People who had only seen her in photos and videos and on Skype were asking to meet her in person. My sister was flying down from the U.S. with her family. There really was no better time. So with much nervousness and excitement, we booked a trip to India and here we are, currently in Bangalore, which is our first stop of many.

I was very curious about the things she would say when she first experienced the complicated wonder that India is, and so I decided to tabulate all her India-related statements.

2 minutes after boarding the plane...
Xena - Mama, are we already in India?
Me - No baby, we are in the aeroplane.
Xena - First it will take off, then fly, then land, and then we will be in India?
Me - Yes.
Xena - Yayyyy we are going to India!

At Bangalore airport... (her first words in India)
Xena - India is cold! India is cold!

At the Bangalore airport toilet (which was mind-blowingly clean, btw)...
Xena - Mama, are you going to wash your hands with the tap water?
Me - Yes.
Xena - But we can't drink tap water in India, right?
Me - Right.
Xena - Because tap water in India has germs, right?
Me - Right.
Xena - Mama, please don't touch me after washing your hands. Otherwise the germs will be on me!

Just outside the airport...
Xena - Mama, I love this winter. I want this winter in Singapore.
Me (deep sigh) - Me too, baby, me too.

In the taxi from the airport...
Xena - Mama, are you sure this is India?
Me - Yes, I am.
Xena - But this doesn't look like India.
Me - You've never been to India. How do you know?
Xena - You're right, Mama. I think this is India.
Me - Good.
Xena - Mama, I love this country!

Stuck in traffic...
Xena - Mama, I smell smoke.
Me - *Long explanation on how air pollution occurs yada yada yada*
Xena - Now I smell poop.
Me - ....

At Viv's aunt's place...
Xena - What is this?
Me - It's a bucket.
Xena - I'm going to bathe with water in a bucket?
Me - Yes.
Xena - Why?
Me - Because that's how many people bathe in India. It also saves water, you know?
After bath...
Xena - Mama, I love it. Can I bathe with a bucket every day?

After a standing dinner at Food Street...
Xena - Mama, tomorrow can we eat in a place that has tables and chairs?

Last but not the least...
Xena - Mama... is that... a cow... on the road?!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Ice, ice, baby!

"Mama, when will I become 100 cm tall?" Xena asked me for the 9398235734th time.

"Soon, soon," I'd tell her. "Just eat your food and drink your milk and you will soon grow taller."

"Mama, when I'm 100 cm tall, where can we go?" (She knows that there are height limits on certain activities.)

"Erm, maybe we can go ice-skating!" I said.

That excited her to no end. She told every person she knew that she was going ice-skating once she was 100 cm tall. Neighbours, teachers, friends, everyone. If she had her way, she'd have stopped complete strangers on the road and told them. I was quite glad to see this because I'm a big fan of delayed gratification in kids. It's so much better if they can wait for a reward and work towards it.

So, for many many weeks, she'd keep asking me to check her height and one day, we saw the magic number.

100 cm.

It was time for me to fulfil my promise. I chose a weekday so that the skating rink wouldn't be too crowded, and called to check if the rink was kid-friendly. It was, and so we set off to Kallang Ice World!

They had these frames for kids to hold on to, but because there was no sign to say that they were for kids, many adult beginners snapped them up. In spite of the mara-mari for the frames, we managed to get our hands on one.

All set to skate!

At first, Xena was extremely cautious and just stood there, holding on to the frame. I told her that was fine, and she could look at how others were doing. She did that for a while and I went for a couple of spins.

Then she started taking tiny steps forward and soon, she was moving at a decent pace. After a while, I stood behind her, put my arms under her armpits, locking her between the frame and myself and skated as fast as I could. She loved it so much, she started giggling incessantly, much to the amusement of our fellow skaters. But it was tiring for me and slightly painful for my back to bend like that, so we took frequent breaks. And photos. 

My little poser

There were some other kids skating too. Most had frames but there was one little girl who was doing quite well without a frame. Xena asked me if that girl was skating for the first time too. Her mom, who was watching her from the viewing area, turned to us and told us that it was her 10th time. Xena asked me if she'd be skating like that on her 10th time too and I nodded. Then she asked me to ask the kid's mother what the kid's age and height was! Of course, I didn't ask the height, but we did find out that she was 6 years old. I think Xena can't wait to be 6 now!

As she was able to move slightly faster now, I asked her if she wanted to try skating without the frame. She looked horrified at the thought. Then I asked her if she just wanted to try standing without the frame. She agreed reluctantly, but was pleasantly surprised when she could do it. She even tried to take 2-3 steps without it.

Look ma, no frame!

We also saw many people slip and fall, and the concern on her face whenever that happened was heart-warming. I told her that that's how we learn to skate. We fall, we pick ourselves up, and then we go again. (In fact, I can't think of a better place than an ice-skating rink to teach this to kids.)

"Mama, did you fall when you skated for the first time?"

"Yes, I did."

"How many times?"


"Did you fall on your bum-bum?" She asked and burst into giggles. Sigh, that b-word and the hilarity that kids associate with it! I try to keep a straight face so I don't encourage all the bum-talk, but sometimes it's impossible.

When she was done, she recounted the whole thing to her dad.

"Dada, do you know that I could stand without the frame? Do you know that I didn't fall at all? Do you know that when Mama skated for the first time, she fell on her BUM-BUM? HAHAHAHAHA!"