My daughter dear (DD) rang up to say that our GS had got selected to the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai. All of us were mighty thrilled. The downside of the deal was that his holidays would start when Grand Mother’s School opened after the summer holidays.GM the princi screamed at the top of her voice, “THIS IS REALLY MOST UNFAIR – I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SPEND TIME WITH THEM – WHY CAN’T ALL SCHOOLS IN INDIA HAVE THE SAME ROUTINE?” etc. Daughter consoled her by saying that she would bring the children to Bangalore and spend their entire summer holidays bonding with the grandparents, mama, mami, cousin and all the kith and kin.
The next task on hand was to ready the house to receive DD and the grand sons - Ayaan, the twins Agastya and Aarin. Normally, whenever military commanders move about in their operational area they take their personal entourage with them. Similarly DD announced that she would be bringing along her support staff – Durga Bai and Rohan to Bangalore to assist in looking after the ‘Three Man Army’.
The entire drawing room was shifted to Balu’s garage and a huge additional bedroom made out of it. The entire room was one big bed on the ground for the twins to crawl about.
Figure 1 – Playing Uno in the hall turned bedroom (for the grownups)
Twins can either be identical, meaning that they develop from one zygote that splits and forms two embryos, or fraternal because they develop from two separate eggs that are fertilized by two separate sperm. Agastya and Aarin are fraternal twins, having their own identity, looks, likes and dislikes, behaviour traits and so on. It’s extremely interesting to observe them – one is outgoing the other is reserved, one is friendly, whereas the other is cautious, one likes mango the other does not relish it, one experiments with food and the second one sticks to his favourites. One takes time to get used to new faces, whereas the other has no problem, both like playing in water and going out nonstop in the pram, both enjoy playing in the grass and catching ants – the list is endless. They are two different persons, but with a very special bond between them.
Figure 2 - Enjoying bath time
The next morning followed by all other mornings – the twins roamed free in their pram all over Jal Vayu Vihar. Before breakfast, followed by post BF and then pre lunch, evening, late night rides kept them occupied. They sat comfortably in their pram- watching cats, dogs, squirrels, chirping birds, falling leaves, friendly residents and slowly falling asleep.
Figure 3 - Favourite pastime – Pram rides
Now my daughter is finding it extremely difficult in Mumbai locating the almost forest like ambiance, which the twins had got used to in JVV. One of the twins refuses to come home after a pram ride in the park.
Figure 4 – Agastya enjoying the park
Figure 5 - Aarin giving a cheeky grin
The twins soon became the cynosure of all eyes in the colony. I had to cope with endless admiration, cheek pinching, queries, coochicoos, so ‘chweet’ and much more. One set of teenagers wanted to know if they could take away the twins. I gave them a very firm and formidable reply and said “Hey girls, listen – it’s a package deal – the grandfather comes along with the twins.” – that was enough to make them scoot. The whole family went to Mysore for a holiday and while visiting the zoo, the twins were mobbed by tourists. Mother sensing trouble ran towards the twins and was trying to get in edgeways. One of them rebuked her, “Can’t you see we are all waiting to see them? – Get in line!”
In spite of all our efforts to clear the battle zone of all mines, the twins were able to penetrate all our defence mechanisms and cause severe attrition. They repeatedly attacked the fridge magnets, managed to pull out all the drawers in the kitchen, and examine the OTG on a daily basis. One day when our troop strength had drastically reduced and defenses were down, they sneaked up to the bar and started removing the single malts from the trolley – that’s when I reacted in the fastest possible way –the alacrity with which I responded was enough to put to shame any feline on a hunt. They got used to Tata’s praying and would crawl to the pooja room as soon as they heard the bell ring. They thoroughly enjoyed the prayers, the bell and finally the mangalarati.
Figure 6 – A taste of things to come – God help!
Figure 7 - Mum mum time for the twins
Looking after Ayaan - four and Samara–three and a half, is a different ball game.
They are in the “Y” stage – anything and everything has to be suffixed with a why? I told them no more TV and they should go outside and play – Why? The Spider is making a web – Why? Don’t drop your food on the floor – Why? And so on. One requires unlimited patience to answer these endless volley of questions. This year grand fathering was a tad different, in that, both of them have become tech savvy. One afternoon Ayaan told me, “Tata, firstly it is not ‘I Pod’, its ‘I Pad’ – secondly, I have not been using it the whole day, I have used it only for one hour.” All their stories, games, puzzles and a host of other children’s entertainment avenues are now available on the I Pod. There was less demand for Tata’s stories. Both were quite content using their I Pod and falling asleep on their own after a hard day’s play. Ayaan, Samara along with her cousin Isha were a riot – and the trio became uncontrollable when joined by their new found friends from JVV – Sambhav and Saarika – another pair of twins. One very adventurous neighbour used to invite all these children home to play- a very courageous act indeed.
Figure 8 - Rain dance
In addition there were visits to Vishweshwaraiah Museum, Cubbon Park, Planetarium, Swimming pool etc.
Figure 9 - Illusion - Vishweshwaraiah Museum- grandson on a platter
Figure 10 - In the Mysore zoo
Figure 11 - Boating experience
Being on the ground floor provided the children with unlimited access to open ground – which is in abundance in JVV.To them; the entire colony was Tata’s garden and forest. The open grounds were a boon, as they spent less time indoors – they played hard, ate well, slept soundly and more importantly had a whale of a time.
Figure 12 - Playing with grass
Figure 13 - Playing outside the house
We also celebrated the first year birthday of Agastya and Aarin in Hotel Jayamahal Palace. The children once again had a fun filled afternoon in the pool, running around the abundant open space in gay abandon and generally extracting value for the money their father had paid.
Figure 14 - Birthday party in the pool
Today’s children are very smart. One day DD called out, “Ayaan, come and meet an aunty who is here to see you.” – To which he replied while continuing to play, “Is she interesting?” Samara once said, “I am to have only one scoop of ice cream – but, if you don’t mention it to mama, I will have the second one.” They learn faster, are very observant, terribly inquisitive and overall much more intelligent than our generation – evolution, I suppose. They are very comfortable with words like – amazing, cacophony, flabbergasted, disgusting and use them in the most appropriate context.
During their stay with us, our life was like a roller coaster ride – full of excitement and action happening around us 24/7. Never a dull moment – it was fun filled and high intensity bonding. As planned, DD and her children finally left for Mumbai on 06 July 2011.Their departure left us staring vacantly at the walls, there was a sudden void and heavy silence enveloping the house. The two of us were suddenly left aimless.
Every evening we now sit out in the patio, sipping a drink, gazing at the stars and dreaming about their next visit.
Long live the institution of grandparents and grand children.