Travel along with filmmaker and mother, Arwa Mamji, as she leaves her life in Mumbai behind, to jet set across the world and experience new things, all with her baby girl. Here are a few anecdotes from her experiences
Arwa Mamji is a traveller. After her daughter was born, she changed gears to live slightly off centre. She is a filmmaker and writer and, runs a blog called postcardsfromamama. wordpress.com. She loves black and white photographs, is most comfortable in running shoes and is stingy about cleanliness. She is always looking out for new ideas for great stories and is truly, madly, and utterly in love with cinema.
How do you pack your entire life in a suitcase when you plan to travel for an entire year? If you are travelling with a child, this process becomes even more challenging. When my daughter turned one, early this year, my husband and I decided that we had to make fond memories of her childhood, rather than get caught up in the rut of routine life. Both of us have been travel junkies, so travelling was the easiest answer to living a fulfilling life.
Anyone trying to pack up their house and life for a year away from the life they know, with a child along for the right, who thinks it is a piece of cake, has another thing coming. It is not! It is extremely exhausting to make endless checklists, just to making sure you are not forgetting anything important that your child might need. Trust me when I say, the amount of stuff a small human requires when she travels, was definitely a wake-up call.
My initial checklists for my daughter included the most natural items such as her medication, toiletries, diapers and stroller. Though we wanted her to experience every place in a holistic sensory fashion, I, like any Indian mother, made sure to pack some basic food staples.
The first leg of our trip was Europe. Our first stop would be a quaint village called Brainele Chateau, tucked away in Belgium where we have some family friends. It turns out that the Europeans take their summers very seriously. When we landed in Amsterdam to take our connecting flight to Brussels, the serpentine queue for immigration convinced us that we would miss our flight. Fortunately, we were ushered into the faster queue thanks to the infant in my pouch. The baby was in my sling as the stroller was not given to me at the gate of the previous flight. When we landed at Brussels airport, our worst fears came true. None of the bags had made it to our final destination. We felt helpless, exhausted and anxious, but after registering our complaint with the lost baggage department, we left the airport. Luckily I was carrying a diaper bag with some extra food, clothes and toys for Zooni. This helped us sail through the day before all the bags finally arrived.
Now, we were definitely off to a rickety start. But, we really couldn’t foresee what would happen next! The subtle cultural differences hit me bang on my head or actually on my daughters chin. It is customary in most Indian households to remove your footwear at the entrance of your home. We are amongst those Indians. But in Europe, it is the norm.
The night after our bags arrived, I dressed my daughter in her pajamas and I put on her socks as the floor was a little nippy. I was laying the table, when I heard a loud bang. The next thing I see is blood oozing out of my daughter mouth, and her weeping hysterically. My heart was pounding while I was trying to be calm and composed. After fifteen minutes of bleeding and crying, we decided to rush her to the hospital.
After inspection, the on-call doctor told us that the cut on her chin was very deep and he would need to stitch it up. All the communication took place in French—a language that I only socially understand. She was taken inside the operation room and I was outside hearing her wail, and feeling helpless.
We had planned to travel to south of France. With my daughter in this state, I was in no frame of mind to embark on a 9 hour-long ride to Provence. What was most challenging about the journey was the fact that it would be obligatory for her to sit in the car seat. Though we had trained her, after her fall I was afraid she would not take well to it.
But like the sun rises everyday and fills our world with sunshine, Zooni woke up with a smile next morning as if nothing ever happened to her. This gave us the courage to continue with our our travel plans and experience the beautiful lavender fields in the Provence region of France. | MB