India for three months: with two young sons, aged eight and six. Are you up for it? Michael Booth and his wife were. And, in an enlightening article for the London Times, he explained how this trip was a life-changing adventure for his family. Here is an excerpt:
We have, then, failed in our original goal of a minimum of two hours’ schoolwork a day. On the other hand, every day has brought lessons in geography, culture, religion and communication skills. Asger and Emil have travelled through Indian history: the full spiritual-profane gamut. They’ve seen the bullet holes in Amritsar; the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi; witnessed a Hindu temple ceremony that happens only once every 150 years; and sat on a maharaja’s lavatory (though there remains a slight confusion between Mogul and muggles in Emil’s mind). They’ve fallen asleep to the roar of traffic and honking horns; to chants from Hindu temples; the Muslim call to prayer; and the whoop and screech of jungle birds. And their discipline is military when it comes to packing and the use of antibacterial hand gel.
They’ve experienced, too, some of the great social polarities of contemporary India — training their toy binoculars on the multibillion-rupee waterfront home of the Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, from the window of our hotel in Mumbai, then swinging a few degrees right to see a sprawling, rotting slum. We’ve visited chilly, glittering malls, then sat in traffic and watched a man wash himself from head to toe from a bucket, whipping off his pants from beneath his loincloth to give them a good scrub on the pavement outside his hut. They’ve played Ben 10 with the children of India’s middle classes, and bought an ice cream from a Krishna Ice Cream cart pushed by a boy of 14, just one of India’s many millions of child labourers. Yesterday, Asger, irritated by a fly, lashed out at it. “No, don’t kill it,” Emil admonished him. “Remember, in India it might be a person.”
If you’re interested in family travel, check out the full story of the Booths’ three-month adventure in India.
Photo credit: Bob Riel