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Jul 28, 2012

The Long Flight Back


“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

- Frank Herbert.

Dear Riddhie,
This kind of continues from the previous post ‘Winding Up’ and is essentially an account of our return trip and a little funny incident that happened en route.

We had started packing over the weekend of July 21 and 22 and after winding up kitchen and packing off utensils and clothes, the bags were weighed and re-weighed and opened up a couple of times all through the morning of July 25 when we were supposed to head out. Over the years, I guess you will side with your mom and label me a little paranoid about these things but then to my defense, I can only say that I like to be doubly sure of things specially when I am travelling with my precious little gem – You.

Needless to add, we arrived at the airport way before our schedule time of departure and were probably the first ones to clear our security checks and all. I had packed a little light than the maximum weight limit on all our luggage and eventually checked in everything including the cabin bags to avoid any last minute discomfort.

I was really apprehensive about how you would take to this flight home. An year ago, when we had started, you could fit in the little airline bassinet and had actually slept through most of your journey. Your sleeping pattern and behavior, after these twelve months had drastically changed and I was concerned that perhaps you will not take too kindly to be strapped up in your seat for 14 – 16 long hours.

airplane I would be lying if I say that I wasn’t relieved when I saw that you dozed off as soon as we were airborne. You nearly slept off the first full leg of our trip till Brussels. During the stopover, I decided to walk you around the terminal with a view to give you a chance to stretch your legs and we went about checking the duty free shops together. Belgium is famous for its dark chocolate and I decided to get some for your grandpa. I was holding your hand all this while and maybe left it for a few seconds to pick something up from a shelf and it was all the time you needed to run to a corner and the next thing I saw was you trying to lift a huge bottle of wine off the lower rack. I stepped up quickly and prevented the crash just in time and tried to dissuade you with candies and other things around but all you fancied in that store was that big glass bottle.

Thankfully, for us our next flight was boarding in short time and we could manage it without much further ‘action’. You slept through a larger part on this flight as well and were probably cranky for just about the final 45 minutes or so, which I guess were very manageable.
We stepped out of the plane and your Anupam uncle was there to receive us right at the terminal while the rest of the family waited eagerly for you outside the airport. You really did not mingle easily and held on to us the entire trip back home to the airport.

We had a lot of visitors over the course of next few days and there were a lot of social obligations to be fulfilled. I shall talk about your new discoveries and life back in India over the course of next few letters. Hope you enjoy it as much as I would keying them down.


Jul 25, 2012

Winding Up…


“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.”

- Ben Hecht

Dear Riddhie,
As you read this, I believe, all that remains with you from your first overseas trip is the bits and pieces you would have picked from my letters and the pictures that we clicked. At the age you travelled, I guess there are no memories, just routines which obviously change over time. When we started packing up to return to our home country, we were mindful of the kind of issues that you will most likely face while trying to settle down again.

It was equally difficult for your mother who had settled into a fixed routine herself. If you sift through the various photographs from this year, you will see a stunning change in your mom (she had managed to lose about 20 lbs, maybe more). The transition was made possible partially due to her dedicated regime and partially through her motivation to stay active to keep up with you.

For you, NJ was the place where you learnt to walk and utter your first sentences and made your first set of friends. We visited places and tried different things and even if this trip is one small brick in the wall of your entire life, it will remain special for more reasons than one. 

I guess I just made this post to give this chapter a proper closing. We had a good run thus far and despite all our ups and downs during the last year, it had been one fun filled ride. I took the following set of pictures
over the last weekend and a few of them turned out really well and kind of mark the end of your first US trip.

Union Last Days
I guess I will conclude this short letter here and follow it up with an account of our flight back home. The excitement in the family about your return was scaling new peaks on a daily basis and since we were planning to go back and settle down in our ancestral home for a while, I really wanted to see how you react to a whole different world altogether. So, more on that in next few letters.

Jul 23, 2012

Saying Bye to Sandy Hook


“If a picture is worth thousand words, a walk on the beach is worth a thousand pictures”

Dear Riddhie,
beach_quoteThis is a brief retrospective account of our last visit to the beach in the year 2012. During our stay at Union, Sandy Hook had become one of our favorite places to go to. On evenings when I returned early from work and if it wasn’t windy or cold, we would just drive down there to watch the sunset. We even found ourselves a little pathway that went from the road right to the rocks where we could sit enjoy the several shades of the setting sun. There are some very interesting pictures from the various trips that we made to this place and I am sure you would have seen them by now.

It was thus, only natural that we made one last trip before we packed our bags for good (till this point we had no clue if we would ever return). 

It was the evening of July 22, 2012 and we drove in to our favorite spot and sat on one of the rocks by the shore and watched the sun go down in its majestic glory on the western horizon. Here are a few pictures to relive the moment and the day – needless to say the fourth one where you are holding my hand and walking inspired me to make the quote I began this letter with.

Sandy HookSandy Hook Sandy Hook Sandy Hook Riddhie

Jul 22, 2012

The Water Baby


“Swim like there is no tomorrow, like today never happened and like yesterday wasn’t good enough”

Dear Riddhie,
The first time I took you to a pool was even before your coming to the US and I had made a little note of it in one of the earlier posts (Read HERE).

During our stay at AVE, Union you thoroughly took to water in the pool like a fish. We bought a couple of those cute bathing suits and some swimming diapers (of course) and took you to the pool and you simply loved it. It was pure joy watching you splashing and soaking in and having all the fun you could. The last few days of our stay here saw me come home a little early to take you to the pool on a regular basis. Now, if you ask your mom, she will tell you that an evening shower never really suited me but the way you laughed and played in water, I risking a running nose was really a small price to pay.
Pool Fun
There were multiple things which I wanted to do when I was growing up – learning to swim being one of them. However, I did not have access to either a pool or a swimming class until I had almost passed out of school – an age where it is easier to learn how to drown than to stay afloat. I still managed to learn a bit of what I could and though I might not be the kind of swimmer that will do multiple laps, I think I won’t drown easily either.

I am glad that you were not averse to water and enjoyed your time in the pool, even if it wasn’t much of a lasting memory. I hope to find a place and a facility for you to take this up seriously (when you grow up a little and in case you decide to) but for now, I will sit back and enjoy going through a few shots your mom took on one of our evenings in the pool and yes, they remain one of my most cherished moments with you from this trip.

Jul 16, 2012

The Elevator Elation


“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.”

- Walt Streightiff

Dear Riddhie,
Maybe by now, as you read this, the world around you would have changed. It would have lost some of its color and perhaps a lot of its surprise. Life, as you know it, would be packed in a routine with a new elements to test your mettle on a daily basis.
As a father, I will try my best to shield you and protect you from all the world’s ugliness and its influence to keep your sunshine intact for as long as possible but then I am sure there will be times when life would conspire to tether your spirit to a pillar and present you with dilemmas that will make you yearn for these days when things are simpler and your choices far less complicated.

For all such times, let me share with you this little anecdote when one of the greatest joys for you was to just ride the elevator from our apartment floor down to the basement and back.
The story behind this letter is fairly simple actually. About the time when you started exploring your surroundings, everything within your reach was either what you liked to chew on or an amazing plaything. You loved being let on your own and enjoyed running down the hallway with little hops and a spring in your feet. Once outside the doors of the apartment, you aimed straight for the elevator and took delight in pressing all the buttons within your reach.

Initially, we tried to check your behavior and stop you but that didn’t really deter you and since we knew you would really grow out of this soon, we let you have your way for a while. Your joy knew no bounds when we decided to play along and educate you how to use the elevators and showed you which buttons to press and where to stand and all the little things about it.

Moving up and down in an elevator was no longer a routine thing after that. Each time we decided to step out, you would rush out to be the first one to reach for the calling buttons. It was endearing to see you enjoy and seek little pleasures like that. Even though you have stopped expressing such joy, every time that I am on on an elevator now, I am always reminded of this little video clip we shot on one of your ‘trips’ to the basement.
Riddhie, when you look at this little hazy clip years from now, try and look through the sense of wonder you carried as a little child – the amazement of the elevator ride, the awe and delight on seeing the button light up when pressed. These, my child, are prized possessions of innocence. Try and retain a fraction of that wonder as long as you can and let this wonder inspire you and fill your heart with creative dreams to paint a resplendent canvas. As long as I am around, I will try and keep pointing you to a rabbit in the cloud, a drop caught in a spider’s web or a little bud blooming through the crack in the pavement. I wish for you to be amazed by this beauty of life in little things and laugh with the same joy as the 2 year old you in the clip below.



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