So with the kids’ school having closed for the rest of the week, I’m faced with the prospect of having them home full time for 5 straight days. Such a thing has never happened before in living memory – which means, not in the last six months at least. Ever since they started pre-school last October, they’ve been out of the house for at least some time every weekday morning. Of course, there were the summer holidays. But in those halcyon days, I still had their Shaba-aunty, my cure-all for any rwins-centric issue. She had a baby boy less than a month ago, and has been on maternity leave since the end of June. In fact my domestic help scenario is at an all-time low right now. I’d delegated the entire lunchtime rigmarole – of heating, serving, overseeing, screaming at, and cleaning up of girls, dishes, and horizontal surfaces in a six-foot radius etc etc – first to Shaba-aunty, and later to her sister, our cook, NJ. Just this week, though, NJ announced that, due to various other part-time jobs, she would be unable to handle the lunchtime rigmarole. I think she didn’t enjoy it much, anyway. So the entire weight of the lunchtime rigmarole is squarely back on the sagging shoulders of yours truly.
On the past several weekends, we have ended up taking the kids out somewhere practically every morning, because they’re such a handful to manage at home. I worry, vaguely, that we’re making them even more restless and excitement-seeking than they already are, but it is so much easier to keep them engaged and happy away from home that I push away long-term worries in the interests of retaining my short-term sanity. Amit has a holiday this Friday (yay!) and has promised to take sole charge of them kids on that day, so that left me with only today and tomorrow to worry about. (And the weekend, of course, but that’s three whole days away, who can think that far?)
Considering that we’d spent all of Saturday loafing, with great success, and that Sunday had been only a little less full of loafing, I decided that it was now safe to venture out in public alone with them. I had a couple of errands to run: I had to pick up the Registration Card of my new car from the Residency Road showroom, and I felt it was also high time I paid a follow-up visit to Mayo Hall to find out the status of our khata application (you can read the previous thrilling installment here). I could have driven out, and used the Garuda Mall parking lot as I usually do, but I decided that, with school closed, the chauffeur (that would be me) needed a holiday too. Besides, the twins actually enjoy going by auto. So by auto off we went.
It was a great outing. Of course, I found, to my great dismay, that our particular room at Mayo Hall had shifted to some far-away and obscure location. There were only a couple of people, a computer, a desk, and a truckload of files remaining. To really appreciate how little that is, you need to be well acquainted with public offices in general, and Mayo Hall offices in particular. While the kids ran around the cavernous hall and brought a smile to a couple of people’s faces, I enquired somewhat desperately about our khata. A polite and quite helpful gentleman, the same person who had accepted the application over two months ago, in fact, said that he’d try to find out and get back to me.
“It’s difficult for me to go so far to just find out,” I explained, indicating the twins. It never hurts to play that card.
“Oh, that new office, you’ll never find the place at all,” he assured me cheerfully. But he took my phone number and said he’d let me know by afternoon.
I’d promised the twins beforehand that, if they behaved well, I’d get us all a snack at the end of this little expedition. Thinking that we had finished our work, Mrini embarrassed me at this point by saying, loudly, “Mama, it’s lunchtime, I want my chicken.” It was just about 11 a.m., and I shudder to think what everyone around must have thought of me. I rushed the girls out of there before they could think of anything more incriminating to shout about.
Next, we took a short detour to the State Bank of Mysore in yet another futile attempt to get stamp paper. Then we walked to the Hyundai showroom, where I got my RC without any difficulty.
Now for that chicken. Since it was still quite early and restaurants wouldn’t be open yet, I took them to Nilgiri’s, where we shared a curried chicken pie, and I had a cold coffee. At a nearby table, a group of college girls were celebrating a birthday with cake and cellphone photographs. The twins were engrossed enough in their event to momentarily forget about their food. I wondered whether they would be obvious enough to earn themselves some cake, and, sure enough, they soon did. They shyly mumbled “happy birthday” and “thank you” and then proceeded to gobble the cake as though they hadn’t seen food for a week. Then we went to wash our hand, which had icing all over them, and Tara managed to dismantle a cupboard in the handwash area! I got them out of there quite quickly after that.
At the Residency Road, MG Road intersection, several of the Big10 buses were lined up. I was sorely tempted to take one of them – the kids have never been by bus, and they would have loved it – but I didn’t know where they would go. Two had signs in Kannada, and the one that had the sign in English as well wasn’t going anywhere near home. I should have asked, but in the end I lost my nerve. It’s probably been close to 20 years since I went on a local bus in the town where I lived (it’s different, of course, as a tourist). So we came back uneventfully by auto and we were home by noon.
It was more than an hour later that I realised that it was probably the first significant outing with the girls that hadn’t involved a toilet break! So they are growing up!