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Two incidences in the recent past have made me realize that how our public infrastructures are not that mother and baby friendly as they could be.
A mother’s biggest nightmare, uh no let me say, one of the nightmares, while travelling with a baby is that he may decide to poop anywhere anytime leaving her in quite a shitty situation .These days when I have to go out with my baby, one of my prayers is “please god let him poop while I am still at home” .
But these prayers don’t work all the time. And that’s what happened when I was on a morning flight from Delhi to Pune last week. My four month old rockstar is a morning person as he often relieves himself just when the rooster does the cuckdooo cooo somewhere outside my society ( yes somebody has a rooster…still) at the break of the dawn. Keeping this in mind, I had very strategically booked an 8.45 am flight, thinking that by the time I board the flight he would be all fresh and happy.
But alas the baby chose to mess up my plans quiet literally, when he did his business right when we landed at the Pune airport.
So there I was, pacifying my much irritated baby and desperate to get him out of those soiled diapers. I hurried straight to the washroom -before anyone else got the whiff of what was wrong (pun intended) -in search of a diaper changing table or any surface that I could lay the baby on. But there was nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I rushed out of the bathroom and spotted an airhostess. I explained my situation and the kind woman told me that there was something similar to what I was looking for in the staff bathroom. I felt relieved and thanked her profusely. While on my way to the washroom I just couldn’t help but wonder that why an airport would not have such a simple facility like a changing table. Does the airport authority also pray “please god don’t let the kids poop in our premises”
If it does, then I guess I just broke their spell of good luck.
Anyway coming back to my story, just as I entered the ladies washroom, imagining a sofa (that’s die hard optimism for you) or at least a table waiting to embrace my baby while I did the needful. But to my surprise I found a thin marble bench. Yes, that is what the women employees probably relax on while on their breaks- unless they got too comfortable!
Armed with my backpack and the baby dangling from my arms, I wondered how I would lay him on a cold slippery marble without him getting adventurous or impatient. Both the cases could prove fatal. But a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.
After the deed was done, I came out of the washroom feeling relieved and grateful for the existence of a humble marble.
I left the airport with a happy baby, but with a mind full of questions. Why does the airport not account for mothers travelling with babies and their impromptu needs? Is the airport subtly trying to tell travelers to GO DISAPPEAR once the journey is over? I would never know.
The second time I experienced such helplessness was when a few days later I went to Reliance Mart, to stock up on the household stuff. And needless to say, I took the baby along who was well dressed and well fed.
But he wasn’t happy for too long, as just as I entered the supermarket, he became cranky. And it wasn’t long before I realized that he was hungry AGAIN. Babies can do that to you. One moment they are all full and chirpy and another moment they are famished and wild.
And there I was, yet again in a sticky situation. Thinking out loud, where do I feed the baby? With no restrooms in sight I had no other option but to sit awkwardly on a thin concrete structure- the kind on which college sweethearts often plank themselves regardless of how discomforting it can be- and bottle feed him. Much to the curiosity, surprise and general entertainment of other shoppers. But does a mother really care for such glances when the baby is wailing with hunger?
These incidences have unveiled the ignorance and shortsightedness of people who construct these public spaces. Gone are the days when children could be left at home with other family members. But now as most people live in nuclear families, couples do not have any other option but to take the kid along almost everywhere. Different lifestyles and situations have given birth to new problems-problems that can be only solved with new solutions.
But until that happens, I on my part am living the adage, necessity is the mother of all inventions, to the hilt.