Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Park and the People

The Neighbourhood Park is one of the central themes in Puttachi's life. It is a very well-developed park, one of the many in our area, but this stands out for its beautiful landscaping and unique design. It is not too big a park, just the right size, I would say. And it is the closest to our home, and so Puttachi gets to go to this park every day.

There was a time when we would carry her in the sling and walk around the park. Then came the era when we would half carry, half hold her hand as she attempted to take unsteady steps. Then we watched her carefully as she took steps on her own. And now? Now we run after her as she sprints towards the children's play area in the park. Yes. Yesterday's little baby now plays on the swing, goes on three types of merry-go-rounds, and slides down the slides.

Puttachi is an extremely friendly child. Her walk in the park is interspersed with "Hi"s and "Hello"s and hand-waving and smiling at random people. All strangers. She has a special liking for couples who huddle together on the benches. New couples, veteran couples, happy couples, quarelling couples - our girl has to stop and talk to every one of them. And she invariably leaves smiles behind.

Her walk is also interrupted by her squatting suddenly to look at an ant, or a fruit, or an oddly-shaped leaf, or even a smudge on the walking path. Only dragging her away serves to break her concentration.

There are many, many children in the park too. Puttachi delights in talking to them. She carries on a conversation with every child, whether they want it or not. Some of them respond in kind, some get alarmed at Puttachi's advances, and hide their faces in their mothers' dress. There are different kinds of parents too. Some of them stop to talk, and we exchange data like ages, number of teeth, and latest activities of our children, and there are some garrulous types, after fifteen minutes of talking to whom, I will be privy to details like how long the labour was, and why the child wears Huggies and not Pampers.

Then there are also parents who look like they have just swallowed a spider, and who drag their child away while s/he is attempting to make conversation with Putachi. I don't understand these types, but well, to each his own.

And there are these over-friendly adults, who come right at Puttachi, and without any warning or by-your-leaves, snatch her up and start cuddling her or covering her face with kisses. The poor thing gets shocked and uncomfortable and bawls. People!

And then there was this 2.5 year old boy who came to Puttachi and started patting her cheeks. His parents told him, "Cute baby, allva? Give her an Umma." The boy dutifully bent down, and before we could even react, gave Puttachi a big wet sloppy kiss... on her LIPS! The parents looked at us proudly as if their son had bestowed a huge honour on us, but the moment their backs were turned, S~ took out his handkerchief and wiped Puttachi's mouth clean :D

Then there was this chubby little white child, about a year older to Puttachi, who skipped and hopped her way towards Puttachi. "Say hello", I prompted Puttachi, but she was busy scrutinizing the child's blonde hair. Meanwhile the child's mother came up from behind her and said, "Say Namaste!" And that left us feeling slightly embarassed. "Hello", as opposed to "Namaste"! I went home and taught Puttachi Namaste that day.

Elderly men and women are particularly friendly with Puttachi. The grandmothers smile and nod appreciatively while asking about her age, and express delight at what a quick child she is, and tell their friends, other grandmothers.. "The kids these days....." Grandfathers, on the other hand, are silent admirers, they just reach out with a walking stick while Puttachi stares in fascination at their mufflered heads. One old grandfather gives Puttachi something each time he meets her. The first time, it was a few coins, and yesterday, it was a mint, which I immediately confiscated.

Puttachi loves the park. And she gets to go twice every day. Once in the morning, and once in the evening. When she wakes up in the morning, I feed her a little something, after which my father-in-law takes her to this same park for the better part of an hour. After she gets back, she promptly comes to me, says "Bow Bow!" and "Kaaka", implying that she saw a dog and a crow at a park, which, in all probability, she wouldn't have. But well, that is the routine. And then I feed her a second, heartier breakfast.

Well, this morning visit to the park has ensured that she has a set of morning friends too. Sometimes these morning friends meet us in the evening visit to the parkand talk to us. Just yesterday, a man who was passing by, jogging, stopped and said, "Puttachi! Fancy seeing you in the evening too! Oh you are her parents" He gushed on. and this kid looks up and bats her eyelashes at him, while I am still reeling with shock at a stranger calling my baby by her name. Then this man told us, "She comes to the park every morning with her grandfather. She is very popular in the park, you know!" "No, I don't know! Are you talking about my baby?" screamed my brain, while outwardly, I was smiling and nodding. My 1 year old daughter already has a life of her own, of which I am not a part! :)

One thing about life with a baby - there is not a single dull moment!


Abhipraya said...

My my is she an active child or what. And with those big bright eyes it won't be hard for her to make more friends :)

It is always a delight to read your posts about Puttachi. Especially on dull day it invariably brings a smile!

Sumana said...

Oh wow it is nice to read about puttachi and feels like i have known her from when she was born. She is adorable. Like her parents she belongs to a friendly lot. One thing good about the park is they get to interact with so many different personalities along with play. Have fun.

Veena Shivanna said...

Hmm.. This park thing is just nice alva? These days, more than him I look forward to get there. It fun watching all the kids and our son enjoying.
I could relate to most of the things you said.. The play and the people around the park!!

hmm.. that kissing part , I think people should understand. I have infact noticed parents teaching them to do it on every other's face and motivating them to do it. Wonder why?

Have a great time with Puttachi..

Manasa said...

Puttachi is a celebrity on the blog and in the park too :)

Small kids love to see/play with other little kids of their age. They always want want to roam around rather than sitting at home.

jottingsnmusings said...

Oh, you have painted such a vivid picture of the whole scene Shruthi! 'Puttachi in the Park' - I almost felt like I was reading a Malgudi Days story. From one Narayan fan to another, could there be a better compliment? :-)

I wish you could have stopped the lil boy and his kiss though. Kiss on the lips, ugh, hate to think of it even! Anyhow, you will be better prepared next time. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can relate to your experience that the little ones have a life of their own at that young age and we as parents are not a even a part of that life! It happens with with me all the time with my toddler son who knows more people than I do in all the public places like parks,shopping malls, community library and supermarket that we frequent with him all the time. I have seen people approach my son first and give him a friendly high-five and than turn towards me to strike up a conversation.

It is just a phase in the life of a baby/toddler. Everyone loves little babies and toddlers just as those little ones love to say "Hi" and "Hello" to everyone they come across. Once they are a little older they move on to next phase and know who is a family member and who is a stanger and that is the beginning of the end of innoncent age that we all will cherish for the rest of our life.


anoop said...

nicely written.

rajk said...

Hi! Totally loved this post. Like Puttachi was fascinated by the blonde hair of the white boy, my son used to be fascinated with blue/gray/green eyes of the white kids here in the park. Once he was so taken by a little girl's blue eyes he almost poked her in the eye trying to touch it!!
BTW, on the over-friendly strangers, if such a thing happened here, parents could yell "Sexual abuse!". That was something I was told when I came to the US first, "Do NOT touch a child without the parent's permission!!"

snippetsnscribbles said...

Shoooo cute !!! That was a very heart warming post, Shruthi :) Loved it totally :)

..and about that kid kissing Puttachi - totally hated it! And I have to agree with Raj that said here in the USA it is definitely not safe to even touch other children without the consent of the parents! And I think to a large extent, it DOES work out well :) atleast for the parents that do not appreciate this kind of behavior.

M S Raghunandan said...

good writing. keep it up.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Hehehe... so now Puttachi is gathering a bigger fan following than her mother :)

About being attacked by random strangers and relatives -- I totally understand. When I was a kid, I have these vague memories of random huge people (since everyone seemed huge at that time) coming and cuddling me -- my cheeks especially. I used to protest so loudly!

Dhanya said...

wow another lovely Puttachi post :)

Usha said...

Heyyy, how sweet!
Miss congeniality in the making! Her behaviour with strangers comes as no surprise to me considering how she responded to me and that when she was not yet one!
While some of it is genes, it speaks a lot about her parents too and how well they have done by her.(S and S~ take a bow!) Having been exposed to both sets of grandparents, I think she is totally comfortable with older people. Tell me whichh park this is. One of these days I am going to come and sit in a bench just to watch her.

JammiR said...

What a wonderful word picture you paint! I recalled my own experiences of taking little ones to the local park - my 2 year nephew every weekend when I came home from college and later my own son to the riverside where he'd go chasing after the pigeons or delight in throwing bread crumbs to the ducks.

But Puttachi's exploits in the park seem to be in an altogether different league.

Thanks for the delightful blog. have fun and keep safe.

chethan said...

Another lovely update.

Liked the squatting to look at an ant part. well painted.

pumpkins mom said...

you bet, not a dull moment with these kids! kaaka and bow bow haha...cute little Puttachi :)

Mama - Mia said...

puttachi updates are so so amazing!

leaves a huge grin on my face! :)

she sounds like the perfect l'il girl! touchwood!



Kadalabal said...

GREAT simply great narrating all those lovely and other moments at park and I really enjoy reading each sentence. posts written by you are amazing. wait it is not that puttachi will have her own identity you will be referred to as mother of puttachi as she will be more popular in the area. It is my experience too.
diferent people different habits different attitudes true world is big and you have all types here so in fact you see the world as a whole when you walk with kids and more with lovable one like puttachi.keep going keep writing

Shruthi said...

Abhipraya: I'm so glad it has that effect on you :)

Sumana: How sweet! Thank you :D

Veena: It's such fun, isn't it? You will have even more fun as the little fellow grows older!

Manasa: Yeah! She gets restless when it is time for her walk. And oh yeah she is already a celebrity :D

Jottingsnmusings: Whoa! That's a huge compliment! I am totally bowled over :D Thanks!

Vish: All good things come to an end, huh? You know, I can totally visualize your little one high-fiving strangers :D

Anoop: Thank you!

RajK: Exactly. But all i can do is give them cold stares here!

Snippetsnscribbles: Thank you ;:) Yeah, here, it is taken for granted that a child is public property, to be held and kissed! Gosh, think of the poor child! how will you like it if a random stranger comes and starts hugging you? :D

Raghu mama: Thank you :D

Sudipta: HEH HEH.. trying to imagine you with big cheeks :D Oh, don't gape, I have seen your pic on orkut.. muhahhaha!

Dhanya: :D

Usha: Miss Congeniality is such an apt name for her :D I hope she turns out to be as spirited, too ;)
Oh, will give you directions, you are welcome to the park anytime! (look at me inviting you as if it is my property!)

JammiR: Thank you so much :D

Chethan: Thank you :)

Pumpkin's mom: HEh heh.. watch and see, pumpkin will go to that stage any time now!

Mama-mia: Wow, I am so glad you like the updates! :D

Kadalabal: Thank you :)

surya said...

Nice post..

Keep it up


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