Last week end was truly special. It was a long one – Independence day, raksha bandhan, Sunday – and was also little Komal’s second birthday. And to crown it all Utpal was at home too. So I decided to put my life on hold for these 3 days, get off the spinning wheel, shelf all worries and work and do what I almost never do: take time off and follow the kids.

Raksha bandhan, the festival when brothers and sisters renew their bond was touching as Kiran and Utpal are soul siblings. Utpal went to Kiran and Komal’s home and got his two precious Rakhees. Kiran was barely two when a scalded Utpal landed in our lives, and though she may have at first resented all the attention he got, she soon understood what was happening and became his little caretaker and helped look after him in every way possible. As they both grew they were inseparable and attended the same play school. She was heart broken when he left for boarding school and since has never missed a single of his PTMs and looks forward to his holidays. After the rituals it was time to go shopping. Toiletries that Utpal needed to take back to school and Komal’s birthday present. The kids knew that there would be goodies for them too, all they needed to do was look at me with their huge pleading eyes. I must say they were very reasonable!

In the evening, Utpal regaled us with his latest choreography: a 4 minute dance performance to the hit from the film Taare Zameen Par with song and sound effects. He did not miss a step or falter. It was amazing and I realised how much a child can learn through dance: coordination, rhythm and above all self confidence. I wish we could do the same at pwhy but lack of space, time and above all the reticence of parents to any form of creative pursuits are obstacles not easy to overcome.

Sunday was Komal’s birthday and it had been decided that we would take the children to the mall. Me at the mall was unheard of but had I not come off the spinning wheel of reason. WE set out early as we knew that a holiday week end meant more footfalls at malls. We also did not quite know how little Komal ,whose two little years have been spent between the cooped up space of her tiny home and the overcrowded space of the pwhy creche with a few forays into the local markets, would react. To say that she was to the manor, or should I say mall born would be an understatement. She took to the place like a fish to water. She ventured in all directions imbibing all she saw: the long brightly lit corridors, the shop and their gleaming windows. Her little face was beaming and her tiny feet busy.

We set out looking for the kid’s corner and soon found it tucked away on the second floor. It was paltry compared to the rest of the mall, as if children were not really important. And to the dismay of Kiran and Utpal, the kid zone of this mall seemed geared to toddlers and did not have much for children their age. I wonder why! We soon discovered that to be able to ride the plastic Noddy car or sit in the Barbie house you had to shell out Rs 150 per child for an hour even if the child decided to spend a few minutes. But it being treat time the appropriate amount was shelled out and the kids had their moment of fun. As we sat on the bench watching them many families passed by, some with numerous children and in spite of loud pleas and even wails, most parents were not willing to pay and just their dragged their progeny away. 150 rs per child when you have 4 children was way above many budgets. Kids play areas in malls were just like multiplexes: too expensive for the common man.

After the play area it was time for the food court and then the candy store! By the time the mall treat was over a whopping amount of money had been spent. But this was time off for the kids and their happy faces were worth every penny spent.

You can share some moments of this very special week end here:

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