Are you a parent who travels back to India often with your kids? Or a teacher who will be discussing children's summer travel as school starts? Read on about this fun travel story from a fellow South Asian author, who went on 19 flights last summer!
Guest Post by Kavita Bafana
Born and raised in NYC, my parents made it a point to travel to India every summer for three full months. Growing up, we didn't attend sleep away camps or laze by the local pool with friends. Instead, we flew from city to city in India, meeting as many family members as possible and soaking in the culture, peppered with classes on henna decoration, Indian dance and languages. These trips shaped who I am today and, though I didn't appreciated it back then, today I feel especially thankful that I know another country besides the US so well.
Now, at almost 40 with a pair of 10 year old twin boys, I feel the urgency to make India alive for them. For my parents it was about meeting family, grandparents and maintaining those relationships, for me it is about introducing my boys to the Indian cultural palette and experiencing the differences between the East and the West. We have made traveling to India every other year a priority and hope that India somehow finds a special spot in my children’s hearts, like it has for me.
Last summer, my twins and I took 19 flights and traveled to over 10 cities worldwide. While in India, we got soaked in a Mumbai monsoon, hiked up hills of Maharashtra while visiting Pune and Satara, surfed the seas on Pondicherry beaches, learned about the Sun Temple in Chennai, watched a polo match in Jaipur and ate idlis in Bangalore. It was a whirlwind of a trip filled with many treasures!
Of all the cities, Mumbai was the toughest for my twins to appreciate. The muggy monsoon weather, space-constrained high-rises and the standstill traffic at all times of the day and night didn't seem that much fun! Since our days were limited, I packed them with visits to family and friends all over town. The boys would yell and scream requesting to stay back and read or play on their electronic devices.
One day, we passed by the sculptured hanging gardens – and the boys were intrigued when they spotted the big Shoe House and animals carved from plants. They wanted to jump out of the car and explore! At that moment I realized I had to show them these simple spots of Mumbai that I may find banal, but they find new and exciting.
So I made a drastic change. I organized an interactive scavenger hunt dotted with historical anecdotes.We discussed arches and domes at the Taj Hotel followed by the story of King George and the British Empire under the Gateway of India. I told them about the geography of Mumbai and the boys were fascinated by the sheer number of people that live and work here.
Most importantly, I shared colorful, enriching, memorable stories of my childhood in Mumbai which captured their minds and hearts. Namaste Mumbai captures this city and its beauty for all kids and generations to come as they embark on their own world travels.
Kavita Bafana is one of the authors of Namaste Mumbai.
Our 10 Favorite Travel Books on India
Looking for a way to keep those memories and conversations about your visit to India? Here are some of our favorite books to explore different cities and places in India:
366 Words series: This series features four cities: Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. See all of them here. These books are basically like a lonely planet guide for kids - except, of course, for the lonely part! Jokes apart, these books are a great resource to introduce children to these cities through visuals, and places that locals love before you visit in real life. Maps and activities keep kids engaged and even makes for an educational experience! (Picture book, 5+ $ 6.50)
Namaste Mumbai: Say hello to Mumbai as seen through the eyes of three friends who go visit the Gateway of India, Elephanta caves, the Queen's necklace and other hidden treasures in their romp through town.(Picture book, 2+ $ 12.99)
Tales of Historic Delhi: Take a walk on the side, literally with herds of lovable animals - tigers, giraffes, peacocks and pandas as your guides through the bylanes of Delhi. A great way to make the city come alive and learn the stories behind the many monuments that dot the city. (Picture book, 5+ $ 7.95)
Taj Mahal: A Story of Love and Empire: A memorial to love famously referred to as a teardrop on the cheek of time, the Taj Mahal is spellbinding in more ways than one. Trace the story of the beautiful architecture of the marble arches, domes, gem stones and gardens of this wonder of the world. (Picture book, 9+ $ 22.95)
A Puzzling Tour of India: Learn about the very many puzzling aspects of India in this brain teaser of a book. Take a trip through the tea gardens of Assam, the rock garden in Chandigarh and even a thrilling boat race in the Kerala backwaters! (Activity book, 9+ $9.99)
Spotlight on India: An easy reader that introduces you to India. It is filled with nuggets of information about different cities, interesting facts on historical monuments and showcases the diverse languages, foods and people of India. Great for classrooms too! (Picture book, 5+ $7.95)
India for Kids: Activity Workbook: Are you looking for ways to entertain and educate your kids at the same time? This workbook is just the ticket! Each activity, puzzle and quiz helps them learn facts and have fun at the same time! (Activity book, 3+, $ 9.99)
Chrisy Bear Goes to India: Join polar bear Chrisy and his family as the journey all across India taking in many different landscapes, cities and adventures! Fun artwork inspired from the real locations make you feel like you've visited them too! (Picture book, 5+ $11.99)
Living In...India: Meet Nisha from Pune who takes you on a tour of her city and takes you well-known places all over India. From meeting her friends and family, sharing meals and stories, this book is packed with history! (Early chapter book, 5+ $3.99)
India: A to Z: Did you know the first book on grammar was written in India? These and other curious trivia make up this fun book which is a great reference guide to names, places, people, animals and things from India! (Chapter book, 10+ $7.99)
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