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Selecting a day to visit the Jama Masjid in Delhi cannot be better than the holy month of Ramadan. The ambience of the whole mosque and its vicinity is a sight one just cannot miss. Hearing the call to prayer after people do the iftaar, the breaking of the day-long fast, and the delicious eateries available nearby are quite a thing to catch up. Being a crowded area, it takes one a lot of effort to reach there specially with children. But, after dropping the plan for the past two years, I finally made it this month with my husband and my 2-year old son. Surprisingly, my socially shy son was all out enjoying himself there.
Well, apart from the whole aura of the place itself, one of the things to boost his interest in that particular visit was our choice of taking up public transport to commute. Yes!! It was our choice to take him in this hot and humid weather to travel by bus and auto. I know most of you must be thinking that we are some kind of aliens who have mustered up the courage to take our toddler in a public transport because with children, it is mostly considered an inconvenient option. And I agree with it too. Yes, a car is far too convenient to travel from one place of the city to another. Life seems easier when you have lesser things to handle and that is why, everyone looks for a more comfortable option. I believe firmly in all these points but I also want my son to experience everything, big or small; be in comfortable and uncomfortable situations and learn to handle them. So for us, though comfort of my child is one of the priorities, but, it does not stop me from exposing him to the harsh realities (this time; the weather in Delhi) of life. I believe that things can be and must be handled in a balanced manner. I do not want my child to grow up seeing the pictures of an auto rickshaw or a bus just in a book and not ride in it.
Similarly, I have made it a point to make my child experience what a long train journey is. (As long as a 30-hour journey). Do not mistake me. When he was just an infant or till one year of age, we did prefer to take the air route. But now that he is growing up and points out a train in a book or a bus, I do not want to curb his experiences to ride in these just for his comfort. I know in some cities like Mumbai, local trains are a part of everyday life. Practically, I feel it is impossible to avoid these and limit our children's capacity to take up things in their stride. So, even though we can afford to book a plane to my in-laws place whenever we go, we deliberately do not.
Some of you might be thinking of how harsh we are to our child but the fact is we are just training him to realities that he will have to deal sooner or later in life. I will give you a very funny example that happened when we were in the bus back from Old Delhi last week. Thankfully, my toddler is toilet-trained almost to perfection. So, we have stopped using diapers. Only when we go to places where there might be inconvenience to find a toilet, do we use diapers. So when we were returning home by bus, my child started becoming restless as the nature's call was calling him and he was adamant at getting off with his jeans. We had to literally tell him to do it in his diaper but he won't. We had to distract him a lot and since he did not want to pee in the diaper, he controlled for some 10 minutes until it was time and he did it in his diaper. He also cutely informed us of the same. When we reached home, we were able to tell him that at some places, toilets are not available readily so, he needs to use his diaper for now at those places. We also counted such places like a bus, an auto rickshaw, a car etc. He also cutely asked me whether there is a toilet in his grandparents' place. I told him that at every one's home, there is a toilet but only in certain places, there may be no toilets available. I personally feel that this was something that we all face whenever we are outside as public toilets can be a pathetic sight to go in. This was a practical lesson that I feel proud to have my child experienced at such a young age.
Other than that, he loved the way doors opened and closed automatically in the bus. He was making the sound of them opening and closing even when we returned home. He loved how the auto rickshaw was open from both sides letting in natural air unlike in a plain or an air conditioned car.
In short, I was really pleased that my son was quite happy that day deriving pleasure from the simplest of things and also learnt the most important lesson of his life, so far. #KhuljayeBachpan