Visit to Chacha Nehru Park, Hyderabad

It was another Sunday afternoon in late June, a cloudy sky with no forecast for rain. The weather was pleasant and we felt outdoorsy – so we were on our way to Chacha Nehru Park to make the most of it.

We took the tickets and as soon as we entered the park, a kitten popped up to greet the girls. Both, B +ve and O +ve, kept running behind the kitten till the time the kitten decided that it was better to jump off the wall on to the other side of the park to protect its privacy.

Once the kitten was gone, we focused on the park in front of us and out of nowhere it started raining heavily. We rushed back to stand below the entrance gate to save us from the heavy downpour and the girls found the sticks of the security guards to amuse themselves.

It stopped raining in 5 minutes or so. The rain left behind many puddles to jump into. So, it was celebration time for the girls. They spent loads of time making ripples, swirling the waters, creating waterholes and splashing water all around to their heart’s content.

After the puddle play, the girls moved ahead to explore the park. They saw a miniature hippopotamus carved out of stone and both of them got on to it. After domesticating the hippo, they turned their attention to a giant globe lying in a corner. O +ve’s name means the Earth in Sanskrit. She started jumping up and down in excitement that she found herself in the park. Both of them tried to move the globe. After quite some effort, when they realised that it did not budge even an inch, they lost interest and stopped trying.

We then saw the moss filled pond at the park – the green coloured water disappointed the girls. They had loads of questions to ask as to the colour of the water, the filth around it and the absence of ducks near the water body.

Running along the walkway, we reached the children’s play area. The girls entered with eager anticipation and to their utter dismay found that more than 80% of the equipments were broken. With the remaining, there was so much of crowd that they realized they are not going to get any turn.

Coming outside, they saw a large drainage pipe. Both of them sat down on either side, calling each other’s name and enjoying the echo that reverberated through the pipe. They actually tried entering the pipe but with their shorts, they got worried about their ankles and decided against it.

The girls saw an unused man-hole opening and assumed that it was a tunnel. They actually found out the other end of the man-hole opening which was also unused. The debate raged on whether it was the snake’s burrow or the rabbit’s. We, of course, did not find any to ascertain the identity of the owner.

Then, the flowers and sticks and seed-pods lying strewn on the walk-way got their attention. There was a tree with a bent trunk. The girls loved climbing onto it and swinging from its low lying branches. Their nature bag started getting filled with seed-pods of the Pink Shower (Cassia Javanica) and the flowers of the Indian Medlar (Mimusops Elengi). B +ve likes having nectar of the Jungle Geranium (Ixora Coccinea). She tried out with all the flowers that she could lay her hands on but her bee glands had to go empty stomach.

Now, the sun had come out in its full glory and I was dragging my feet behind them. And I was continuously being told – Come On Papa, You Can Do It. A hawker was moving around selling football sized balls for kids. The girls bought it and kicked around for quite some time. Once they were done, again they got back to filling their nature bags.

Just as we were about to leave, the girls came across slopes of lush green grass. The girls ran to the top of the slope and began sliding and rolling over to everyone’s amusement. After putting up a good show, it was time for us to head home.

An evening well-spent at Chacha Nehru Park.

Little Moments: Memories with our children – 2

Little moments of beautiful memories of life with O +ve and B +ve. For the first part, please click here.

Lies and Lice

The girls are growing up and are in a phase where they want to know the meaning of all that they hear and speak. So, one afternoon, whilst singing Johny Johny Yes Papa, O +ve asked me the meaning of the word ‘Lies’. I was dithering, trying to put together an answer without getting into worldly affairs of lies to three and a half-year-olds. B +ve came to my rescue and told her sister that Johny’s father was asking if Johny has “Lice” and dandruff in his hair.

Thanks to lice, there are no lies.

What will Mowgli do when he grows up?

The girls love watching Jungle Book. One fine day, B +ve raises a pertinent question – What is Mowgli’s age? It never occurred to me until then as to what could be Mowgli’s age. It is easy in the age of Google to answer such questions; I looked up and answered her that Mowgli is 10 years old. I was happy that I was able to satisfy my child’s inquisitiveness. But, what I was not ready for was the next barrage of questions. What will Mowgli do when he turns 30 years? Will Mowgli come to stay in the city like us? What is the age of Bagheera and Baloo? Why doesn’t Mowgli ever change his dress?

Sir Rudyard Kipling, please help me with the answers.

What is Life?

B +ve is playing with her Ammamma and suddenly she asks – What is Life? My mother-in-law got nervous on hearing the question that a great many philosophers have failed to answer in their lifetime. She immediately directed B +ve to her grandfather, who answered her question by offering the Telugu word for ‘Life’ – ‘Jeevitham’. Unsatisfied, B +ve again got back to question her grand-mother – What is Jeevitham?

The question continues…

The role-play of Mommy

O +ve has taken it upon herself that she is my mother and I am her child. So, every now and then, she dons the avatar of my mother. I will be instructed to call her Amma, Mommy, Mom, Mummy – all the different words of mother that she knows. She goes around calling me Baby and I have to call her by any of the chosen names that she gives me from her repertoire.

When my mother is around, I might get 2 replies when I call for her.

The tears dropping around

B +ve had a shampoo done and she came out crying from the bath. No amount of cajoling and coaxing can console her right after the gross injustice that has been meted out to her. Her sister tries her luck. O +ve remarks that  B +ve is crying so much that her tears would be passing through the floor, seeping into the house of the neighbour who stays below us and he is going to come complaining to us for the water in his house. The next thing we know, B +ve is amused and is completely silent thinking about whether it will really happen.

Water leakage and water flooding due to tears, OMG!

Why do girls only wear frocks?

We do try to keep our daughters away from the gender stereotyping (my being at home and my wife going to work certainly helps). Well, I suppose not much. B +ve has popped up a question – Why do only girls wear frocks? And, we have not been able to answer this simple (!) a query.

The girls’ initiations to real-world differences seem to have started.

In the daily rush of things, we tend to forget these instances that make our lives livable and leave us with a smile on our face, irrespective of the circumstances that we face.

Each one of us has such little moments. Let’s take out time for them; let us not miss out on these memories in our everyday’s struggles. I am sure big things will happen, in the meanwhile, it will be these little moments that will make life totally worth it.

Come On Papa, You Can Do It: Father’s Day Promise

“Come On Papa, You Can Do It”. This is what I get to hear often from my twin daughters when we are on our outdoor immersions. Particularly so, when they find me huffing and puffing, on my haunches, perspiring heavily, trying to catch my breath and not being able to match pace with them.

I am a stay-at-home father to my three and a-half-year-old twin daughters, who do not go to pre-school or nursery or day-care. We indulge in umpteen numbers of outings to green spaces in the city or tag along with my wife, who runs an experiential rustic travel firm to villages.

Out there, the girls get going like they are in their second home. They love collecting twigs, leaves, feathers, seeds – you name it, and they have it in their little nature bags. Irrespective of the size, every rock, stone, pebble gets their attention. If it is big, they try to ascend on to it, if it is tiny; it goes into their personal stone collection. They chase squirrels till the time the squirrels run to the top of the tree. Armed with magnifying glasses, they love following the trails of insects and looking out for animal and bird droppings. They are still trying to get a hang of climbing trees and swinging from the tree branches and aerial roots. The girls have the liberty to visit the parks during non-peak, no crowd hours and it gives them the freedom to indulge in themselves to the core.

Just that, I have to keep an eye on them as they dash off in different directions. Run behind them, roll with them, and answer them as to why the squirrels and pigeons are not willing to play with them, help them get onto the rocks and trees. I end up losing tempo soon enough whilst the two bundles of energy would have just got started. I tell them to slow down and I get to hear “Come On Papa, You Can Do It”.

We accompany my wife on her village trails. Along the way, we get down in any place that the kids wish to explore. The girls get busy picking tomatoes or leafy vegetables or weeding or making farm bunds or checking out earthworms and I have to drag myself along with them. Under the sun, my energy levels dip right away and the girls continue as if they are on an awareness mission about the significance of Vitamin D. I tell them to slow down and I get to hear “Come On Papa, You Can Do It”.

In the current state of ‘no schooling‘, I am my girls’ go to playmate. They want me to not miss out on any of their playful exploits. But at times, they see that I am down and out. They ask me as to why I get tired. They get a bit upset that their father is not able to keep pace with them and they keep prodding me all the time.

I understand that their energy levels are only going to increase in the foreseeable future and I cannot let their enthusiasm to experience and experiment wither away just because I cannot match up to their liveliness. I realize that I have to be more fit and energetic to be there with my daughters. This is going to happen only if I take care of my health and improve on my physical stamina. A must if I have to ensure that my daughters do not miss out on any of their escapades.

While watching LittleBabyBum videos with my daughters, I came across this sweet message from Future Generali where a daughter is pondering over what to gift her father on Father’s Day (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_yr_EUGD2E&feature=youtu.be%5C). She realizes that her father has everything but hasn’t really taken good care of himself. It resonated with me for my daughters keep telling me “Come On Papa, You Can Do It”.

This Father’s Day, I would want to promise to my daughters a physically fit and an energetic father who can accompany them in all their quests. This is #PromisetoMychild. They may not be able to say it as such but I know that they really mean #Aapkihealthmereliye for their father.

Yes Girls, Your Papa Will Do It.

Visit to Jawahar Deer Park Shamirpet

It is early June in Hyderabad. Finally, the weather is becoming a tad pleasant with a couple of showers announcing the arrival of monsoon. The sky is dotted with black clouds and a cool breeze is blowing. The weather forecast predicts that it will not rain, but shall remain cloudy through the day. So, we set out for a Sunday outing to Jawahar Deer Park Shamirpet.

After a pit-stop at the twins’ grand-parents place and a sumptuous lunch, we reached the Deer Park.

Till now, we have never been required to buy a ticket for our twin daughters. All rules notify us that tickets need to be bought for children above 5 years. Now, the rule seems to have changed. The Shamirpet Deer Park informs us that a half-ticket needs to be bought for children between 3 – 6 years and a full ticket for children who are above 6 years.

O +ve is very happy that finally, she has her own ticket. She waits at the ticket window, takes her ticket, looks at it fondly and immediately tears it into two pieces; this is what she has seen happening at the entrance to all parks and gardens. Good observation and execution!

There is a small play-area before the deer enclosure. When we go to residential public parks the girls have to stand in queues to get their chance because of the crowd. In public parks in non-residential places, we have experienced that there is no crowd but the play equipment are mostly dysfunctional. At the deer park, there were two other families in all. And for a change, all the rides were working – so the girls enjoyed themselves wholeheartedly.

O +ve and B +ve kept running back and forth from one space to another in their quest to have it all. And we had to keep running behind them, as they cannot get onto the see-saw, merry-go-round or swing by themselves. O +ve loves to swing faster and higher; she loves the feeling of fresh air on her face and the wind blowing through her hair. B +ve is all for safety and speed limits; she loves to swing and slide at her own pace, she is never in a hurry. All in all, both the girls enjoyed trying their hands and legs at each and every ride out there.

We normally prefer walking and playing barefoot in parks and gardens. At the deer park, there were a variety of ants, bugs and centipedes which caught the girls’ attention and then they followed their trails for a pretty long time. They tried to figure out where they live, but after a while, some red ants got onto O +ve’s foot, resulting in loads of shrieking and wailing. Well, the insects were left behind to mind their own business.

It is around 4.30 PM and we remember that it is the time the deer are fed. We rush to the enclosure place and see the deer having a hearty meal. The girls were very excited to see the deer, albeit from a distance and began calling them to get their attention. The deer did notice them but had no inclination to leave their food and come towards the girls. After a while of incessant questions about the deer and their everyday life, all of us spent time in listening to the peacocks’ calls and in watching the deer walk back into the thick green foliage.

We were called by the staff to get going as it was their time to lock and leave. On the way back, the girls started focusing on the trees and plants on both the sides of the walkway. They had fun blowing the seeds of the yellow bells (Tecoma stans) and loved watching the swirling motion of the seed pods of the Flame of the Forest tree (Butea monosperma). They also picked some feathers, stones and seed pods of the Pongamia tree and the Ranawara tree.

B +ve saw a spider’s web in the adjoining plant and she was too intrigued by the same. Thankfully, she understands that she cannot take it home. Once outside, their mother saw a neem tree in full bloom with its low-hanging fruits. We plucked the ripe yellow fruits and B +ve had a go at it, she liked it so much that she started picking fruits from the ground and eating them. In fact, she wanted us to pluck fruits to last her for at least a week. A pity that she will never be able to find it again in the city, with such peace.

Despite being a small green space, the park offers immense scope for engaging kids with its boulders, green foliage, bird calls and cries, fluttering butterflies, fascinating insects; and of course the play-area and the deer.

Jawahar Deer Park Shamirpet, we are coming again…

Little Moments: Memories with our children

In about three months, our twins will be four years.

Feels like yesterday, when I held them for the first time outside the delivery room and went with them to the NICU in the ambulance.

Time flies. The girls are growing up real fast. And all along, there have been little moments with the girls – moments that are memories of a lifetime.

Moments of innocence, moments of craziness, moments of wit, moments of exasperation, moments of wisdom, moments of fear, moments that have us holding our tummies and laughing our hearts out, moments that bring a tear to our eyes, moments that bring us all into one big bear hug.

Well, this section is all about such beautiful moments of life with O +ve and B +ve.

Over to you girls.

I am so cool

O +ve was doing alphabets. Her mother showed her an Igloo and O +ve remarked, “Ice starts with I, Ice-cream starts with I, Igloo starts with I and my name also starts with I. Everything that starts with I is cool,  I am so cool”.

I guess she is.

I drive the people

B +ve’s name means The Sun in Sanskrit and she knows it pretty well. So, yesterday, a remark from her “When I get up, people get up; when I sleep, people sleep. You see, people do whatever I do”.

She seems to take it literally on to herself what her name means.

Google search to be brave

A while ago, one evening, while running on the terrace, O +ve fell on her knees and had a minor scratch. She continued playing for an extended period, had dinner and slept. The next morning, she gets up, gets her toy laptop and tells her mother that she is searching on the net as to how to be brave when injured.

Seems the Google God yielded good advice, she has been brave throughout.

Why do you speak Gujarati?

B +ve is perpetually asking questions.

She asked me – why do you speak Gujarati? I explained to her that my mother-tongue is Gujarati, I belong to Gujarat and hence. The second question immediately followed – why does Amma speak Telugu? I again explained to her that her mother’s mother-tongue is Telugu, she belongs to Hyderabad and hence.

She then asked as to why she and her sister spoke both the languages – Telugu and Gujarati. I told her that they have learnt by conversing with both of us and hence.

So, why do you not speak Telugu and amma not speak Gujarati? If you can teach us, then why have not taught each other?

Clean bowled!

A Lion Story – Spoken by O +ve

Lions live in chimneys. Lions help customers. Lions are everybody’s best friends. Lions eat leaves, strawberries, grass, hay, and mongoose. Lions live in ponds with fishes. Lions do not drink water.

I am sure she knows these lions very well.

I realized that in the daily rush of things, we tend to forget these instances that make our lives livable and leave us with a smile on our face, irrespective of the circumstances that we face.

Each one of us has such little moments. Let’s take out time for them; let us not miss out on these memories in our every day’s struggles. I am sure big things will happen, in the meanwhile, it will be these little moments that will make life totally worth it.

Why is my poop pink in colour?

What is poop made up of?

Why do we poop?

Why is my poop pink in colour?

From where do birds and snakes poop?

What happens to poop after we poop?

My twin daughters have a number of enlightened discussions with me and one of them revolves around poop.

I understand that the curiosity of a child must be fulfilled. One of my daughters’ favourite subjects is poop and I try to ensure that I answer all their questions, – to the best of my googling capabilities. As they are twins, we have twice the number of occasions to delve into the fascinating world of poop and pee.

The girls know that poop is made up of 75% water and that their pee is made up of 95% water. With the help of Google, they have been introduced to the rest of the constituents also. They have been very keen to know how poop gets made. So, they have seen Youtube videos of small and large intestines and all that happens along the way.

We have a pet love-bird and a pet fish at home. At times, the girls stare them down for a considerable amount of time to check out how they poop. They don’t want to miss any action. Of course, they are learning to be patient and observe. But I do strongly feel the pressing need for teaching them to respect the privacy of everybody around.

Whenever they have beetroot, they eagerly look forward to their poop the next day. They are extremely fascinated by the fact that eating beetroots lends a pink hue to their poop. The girls’ overbearing excitement at meal times and their colourful anticipation of the next day’s output make it nauseating enough for their mother to let go of her meal. And I have to take the blame for her going empty stomach. Some reward for encouraging a child’s inquisitiveness.

The girls have learnt the Finger Family Nursery Rhyme and somehow they have connected it with their poop. So, when they poop, basis the size, they identify them as members of the poop family – Papa Poop, Amma Poop, Brother Poop, Sister Poop and Baby Poop. And when the quantity is less, they sadly announce that their Poop Family has remained incomplete. Imagine there could even be such a practical way of teaching nursery rhymes!

The girls have been on Iron supplements on and off. During these episodes, their poop is black and hard. They get enthralled by the black poop and its hard texture, as they see it as a welcome change from their routine daily output.

If they don’t poop for a day or if their pee is yellow, they know the course to be followed – eat bananas and drink lots of water.

The minute they realise that either of us is in the washroom, they stand and start asking us as to what we are up to, how is it going, how much did we poop – a repeat of all that we tell them when they are into poop. So, yes, it feels great that they understand every bit of it but the role-playing at times just goes too far!!!

The girls love their poop and we are fond of discussing it, as and when they feel like. And this happens very often.  Nothing gross at all – it is all about good health and my daughters will vouch for that.

We are a three member potty club, open for memberships.

Anyone interested?

One potty incident.

When the girls were around two and a half years old, not sufficiently potty-trained and still in diapers, we had gone to a children’s playhouse.

The care-taker noticed some poop on the play-mat and asked me to clean it. I have been cleaning the poop of my daughters and knew that what was on the floor was not theirs. I asked my daughters about the poop – both said that they did not do and their diapers were also empty. The owner of the play-house lectured me on putting diapers properly and asked me to act responsibly.

Anyways, I cursed my luck and cleaned up the potty. After coming out of the washroom, I saw a 7-8-year-old boy standing outside, wearing a night-suit and there was potty below his pyjamas. Realizing that the boy was doing potty standing outside and what I cleaned had an eerie similarity to what that boy was doing, I asked the boy about the place of his earlier relief and he showed me the place where I had cleaned up. I called the owner, showed him what was down and the boy. No apologies whatsoever, he just walked off to call the father of the boy.

I had no interest in whatever happened further. I left with my daughters, never to return to the play-house again.

S*IT happens in life.

10 must-do activities of stay-at-home-dad Part – II

In the first part of 10 must-do activities of stay-at-home-dad, I mentioned about cleaning the poop, potty training, feeding and putting to sleep – the basics.

Here goes the second part of 10 must-do activities of stay-at-home-dad.

Tidy Up: The girls haven’t still gotten the hang of tidying up the mess that they create every day. They like to play with everything they can lay their hands on and that’s about it. They do not care much about returning the stuff to their respective places. So, after they sleep, I have to pick up the pieces of the day and put them back so that the girls can start afresh the next day. I am gently and at times vehemently being pushed by the wife to get the girls into this habit. So hopefully, sometime soon.

Grocery, vegetable shopping: A task that has to be done with the girls in tow. In the hypermarket, both of them want independent trolleys and even if they sat in one, there would not be any place left.  So, we end up providing ample entertainment to fellow shoppers as I try to navigate the two trolleys in the busy aisles, trying to pick up stuff from the shelves and explaining to the girls what it is all about. In the road-side markets, it is even more difficult. To navigate the traffic and the dogs, bargain with the vendors and make payments and hold the stuff and the girls. So far we have struggled and survived.

Giving bath: As I show no inclination for the girls’ breakfast, their mother feeds them whenever she is at home, but it also means that she never has the time to give them their bath. So, 30-40 minutes spent daily to convince them to come inside the bath, clean them up and again convince them to come outside the bath. It is also the time that we have un-disturbed peaceful conversations about many a topic that get left out in the rush time of play hours.

I hardly have an appreciation of colours and designs. So when it comes to dressing them up, I have worked out the easy way. The girls get to choose what they want to wear depending on whether we are staying at home or going out.  I only help them don their respective stuff as they are yet to do this task independently.

Waking up in the night: This is again one task, which I took on once the girls were born. Throughout the day putting up with them, my wife and my parents/in-laws (whoever available) would be dead-tired by the night and I would come back energized from my office. Whenever there was a requirement – they were ill, they over-slept in the day, they were plain cranky, I could do the night-out with the girls. And this aspect remains with me, even now.

Staying away from the internet: I have never owned a smart-phone, but do have an I-pad at home. I have realized that if I want some peace around, it is better to have my eyes and mind on the girls than wandering on the internet. Even when India is playing a cricket match or election results are getting declared – whatever. I am glad that I was never hooked to Whatsapp and Facebook.

Putting up with tantrums: The list, of course, would not be complete without putting up with the tantrums. A day going on just fine, and one melt-down and it makes a complete mess out of everything.  I have realized that I can do as much as I can to prevent but if it has to happen, it will happen. All in a day’s work.

To be honest, these are the tasks that their mother once did when I used to go to the office. And now that she does and I am at home, I do these tasks. Just that, she was not asked, as often, and I do get asked, almost all the times, on what I am up to for the whole day.

Believe me, spend 24 hours, even 12 hours with three and a half year old, single-handedly, and it will be an eye-opener on the work done by the mother in the upbringing of the child, along with all the household chores.

Though meant for stay-at-home-dads, fathers who have full-time jobs can also always pitch in and do the above-mentioned tasks whilst they are at home to experience the uncensored joys/bliss of hands-on parenting. None of these is earth shattering and mind you, there is no MOM science in any of these.

What are the activities on your list?