On a sudden whim, we decided on Thursday, to make a quick trip to Disneyland Paris 🙂
Our onward trip was rather uneventful, except for the fact that I (un)wisely decided to take only my old dabba (not so good) camera and leave behind hubby’s new one!!
Once we boarded the train, the tummy let out a rumble, so we opened out the aloo parathas that were meant for dinner (!!) and gobbled them up, quite oblivious to the glares from fellow-passengers 😉 In fact, I wanted to open even the Achaar and Yogurt (but I wasn’t carrying any of the former, and the latter was a HUGE tub, and even I felt embarassed to dip the paratha into it ;-))
As we reached, the weather Gods decided to make our trip rather memorable. We looked out of the train, to find, that everything to our left was Bright and Sunny and absolutely beautiful 🙂 ! While, everything to our right was CLoudy, Dark and morose 😦 🙄 Then, a light drizzle, followed by slightly heavy rain, and in a few minutes, LIGHTNING!! Luckily, the sky cleared up just before we reached our destination – Marne-la-Vallée.
We had read mixed reviews of our hotel on the internet. So our expectations were not that high! Thankfully!! The room was clean, no doubts, but it was Teeeeeeeeeeeeny Tiiiiiiiny!! There was one little sofa-bed which, once pulled out, left no space to even walk around the room! The bathroom was huge, which was really nice. There was also a tiny kitchenette, which pretty as it sounds, was also rather useful. Typical South Indian that I am, I actually carried a little rice cooker, paruppu-podi (and yogurt ofcourse, which is my staple diet :razz:)
Saturday morning was rather strange. As we ate our minimal breakfast (yummy croissants with jam) – and I say ‘minimal’ because the hotel didn’t provide fruits or cheese! – a thunder storm had broken out!! It was pouring…and we weren’t quite equipped for it!! All we had was one umbrella between the three of us (but the smart Mommy that I am, I had packed a raincoat for the Brat).
Anyway, we brave soldiers marched onwards to the mini shuttle that took us to the Disney Park. The local store made some massive business that day via Raincoat sales!!! So we donned our disposable raincoats and went all around the Park. We took a ride in the little train. The MAP looked rather daunting! What with all those mountains, forests, little rivulets and all. But soon, we realised the actual Disney Park wasn’t all that difficult to manouvre around.
It was amazing, how clean the park remained even with all the rains. There was no litter, no dirt… it was actually magical 😉
In a couple of hours, the rains stopped, and then we had a ball!!
We went on several rides. There was one Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, that spun us round and round. Then, there was this other Merry Go Round. Remember the ones we find on beaches in India? Same thing. Just a little more colourful and cleaner. For a change, instead of hubby and me taking turns, all three of us went on the ride together!! The brat sat on the horse in the middle, while we were on either side. I loved this part!! And to my luck, obviously, when the ride stopped, my horse was high up in the air, and I struggled to get off it!! I am so glad I didn’t fall and make a fool of myself, which I am normally bound to do!!
There was this Big Thunder Mountain Train-ride.. which was a breath-taking experience. The train was super speedy (as my brat calls it) and the carriages threatened to THROW us out horizontally!! The train went through tunnels that were PITCH DARK and steeped really high/low in turns!! We were all screaming our lungs out. At one point, I actually thought one of us would just fall into the ravine beside the little hill!! But this was the most memorable ride of all 🙂 Little R loved it 😉
There were beautiful parades, of all the cartoon characters… Pooh bear, Piglet, Tigger, Mickey and gang, etc…. Infact, I got pretty emotional when I saw all the fantasy Princesses and their respective Princes. I’ve lived on fairy tales all my life, so to see them in ‘pseudo-reality’ was rather moving 🙂 Call me crazy, if you like, but I did get senti!!
We also went in a Maze with a little castle at the top. From our prior experience, we have no luck with Mazes. At Hampton Court palace, we actually forgot to visit the maze!! At Leeds Castle, we did enter the maze, but 30 minutes down the line, we had just made three trips to the ‘EXIT’ and not reached anywhere near the centre! Now, this Disney Maze, for a change, was really quite easy. We found it in about 20-25 minutes and were rather thrilled as we reached the centre!!
As we sat to refresh ourselves over coffee, there was this HUGE tea-pot from which a little Rabbit would pop out every few minutes. I put R on it to take a photo. After which, there was this other Indian family, with 3 boys all climbing the tea-pot. One of them was standing at the very tip of the spout and YELLING OUT LOUD to his parents to take a pic before he fell down!! The parents were busy drinking something and chatting away happily 🙂 I’m not sure if they even got a picture of the heroic stunt 😯
By end of day, we were poooooooped!! We got back to the hotel, to eat our precious ‘curd-rice’ 😉 and crash into the lumpy sofa-bed!! 🙄
Sunday was Hot Hot Hot. We were also tired from the previous day’s excitement, so we spent the first couple of hours, in the Disney Village (window-shopping) and went on a quick ride on a beautiful Hot Air Balloon. It was stationary though..meaning, it was tied down to the base by a thick rope. Made me wonder.. what if.. the rope snapped and we went far far away… gosh.. it was both scary and fascinating.
We spent the second half of the day at Disney Studios. This had many shows – animation, live puppet shows, etc. etc. And yes, we had a good time at all these. Especially a Motor Stunts show, which I vehemently opposed, but ended up enjoying thoroughly.
Yeah, so back to our DDLJ in Real Life scene!
It was 6 pm, and our train was to leave at 7:34. We decided to be extra cautious, and reached the station by 6:30 itself! And waited. And waited. AND waited. There were no signs, and all the announcements were in French, which neither of us knew!! (The only thing we know now, thanks to R, is ‘Bonjour Come Es Stas’).
At about 7:15, little R had a bad fall – right on his face – cut his lower lip really badly – and was bleeding and howling with pain and shock!!
And in all that chaos, at around 7:25, the departure board announced that our train was to depart at platform 3. we were right at the gate. But… the gate was closed!!!
So we ran – literally ran – with bag, baggage and a screaming child – to the other end of the station – and tried to get through the other gate. And guess what? Even that was closed!!
Then we asked the Info guy, and he pointed out that we had to ‘check-in’. And as we discussed what we ‘should have ideally done’, we saw our train slowly chugging away!!
The Helpdesk however, on seeing R’s lip wounds, suggested that we catch the local subway to Paris city, change to another train, and then take the Eurostar back to London.
We were left with no choice!! We again ran ran ran all the way to the ticket counter, managed to get onto the subway and counted every minute as the train slowly slowly slowly pulled into Paris.
After a heart-stopping and breath-taking one hour, we finally made it to Gare Du Nord station. And guess what? It was 9:05, and the LAST Train to London was to leave at 9:13!!! And, to top it all, there was a serpentine queue for immigration and security check!!
I tried to get some sympathy from one of the female staff, thinking she would understand our situation with the missed train, baggage and wounded baby!! She was rather unsympathetic though.
Then Hubby worked his magic on one of the staff, who finally helped us jump the queue. And by this time, it was already 9:20. We were sure that by the time we completed our check-in process, this train too, would have left!!
Anyway, we continued to run, run and run. So there was my SRK running in front of me, carrying the brat, who was by now, screaming his life out, in pain, shock and sorrow!!!! And me, running right behind, panting, almost about to throw up (sorry for the graphic description) and carrying a trolley and two backpacks and some other junk that I could have easily just left behind!!! The staff watching on, had a taste of DDLJ 🙂 Just that, instead of a lovely Kajol, all they got was a panting fatso 😉 and screeching baby 😯 !! A couple of the staff actually said ‘Don’t worry, you have time!’
And you know what I realised after this incident – Kajol was carrying an EMPTY suitcase!!!! 🙄 Cheats!!
Like my friend commented on FB, ‘ordinary people huffing and puffing, with REAL luggage, is not romantic at all’!! 😦
And just as we jumped into the train, the doors shut……..but YAYYYYYY!!! We actually made it!! We reached home by 12:00 am. Exhausted, but so relieved just to be back!! 🙂
So there ended our Disneyland adventure 🙂 And guess what? No matter how awesome a holiday is, there is nothing better than Home!! 🙂
At 28, he was beyond redemption. Drugs, alchohol, nicotine, women, theft… he had done them all! The de-addiction centres offered no more hope.
Her last hope was this pilgrimage by foot. They had covered most of the journey. This was the final leg. The famous dilapidated temple was just across the railway track.
She crossed the tracks and waited for him. He dragged his feet along, slow enough to show how resentful he was of her attempts at ‘rehabilitation’. ‘Try to walk faster..‘, she coaxed. ‘You’re pathetic!!‘ he spat angrily.
She looked crestfallen.
He plugged in his iPod to drown her unspoken words. He had heard enough. He knew what he wanted. To float away on clouds of Ecstasy. And she, was the biggest obstacle! He hated the sight of her. Sad, angry, begging. In turns. All day long!!! Well, atleast, she didn’t cry bucketloads any longer. That was a relief!
Then, she saw it coming. He didn’t. Eyes half-closed, he was swaying to the music in his ears.
It was nearing. She opened her mouth to speak. But her mouth went dry. She put out a hand, to caution him.
‘Buzz off and leave me alone!!!!’ he murmured.
Alarmed, she looked into his eyes.
Baby eyes that once had opened in wonder. Eyes that had once danced with joy, accompanied by the lilting sound of happy gurgles.
Eyes that had once quite blindly trusted in her.
Eyes that had slowly started questioning her authority.
Eyes that had then turned angry in rebellion.
Too soon, it had become too late! The same eyes had turned vacant, and cold. And when she had tried to reign them in, they had seemed almost murderous.
And then, he finally noticed! His eyes widened in fear. She knew that look. He was almost begging, for her to try to rescue him. One more time.
She needed to think. A millisecond went by. And by then, it was all over!
The grass around the track was splattered in red. A bright shade of red, that she knew was the same as her own.
She clutched at her breast. As if to hold the heart that was slowly and irreversibly crumbling into a zillion pieces.
And in that deafening silence, she let out a loud scream. In relief. Then, she screamed again. And again. In horror. At what had just happened. She pounded the grass with her bare fists. Furious, at the way a beautiful life had been wasted.
Spent, she dragged her tired feet towards the temple. The shrine was closed. She slowly climbed the steps. When she reached the top, she almost staggered backwards in exhaustion. She quickly sat down, and lay her forehead on the cool stone pillars. She imagined the beautiful face of the deity inside the shrine. It shone of kindness.
‘Thank you!‘ she whispered. And then broke into tears. She banged her forehead on the pillar until it bled. Then, she hugged herself tightly. And tried to remember his face. She saw in it, the beautiful eyes that had hated and distrusted, but still needed her.
‘Amma….’ – she would never hear that word again.
Folks, this post is dedicated to all those parents who struggle helplessly with children who fall into drugs and other vices.
To parents who deserve better.
To parents who have loved and lost.
Specially, to those parents, who look back longingly, on a Life that could have been spent so differently, and so much better.
The doors shut, and the surging crowd pushed Ram into a corner of the compartment. The train was packed. He took in a deep breath. And smelt Dior. Mesmerised, he hunted for its owner. There she was, standing next to him, a voluptuous nymph, clutching a red leather handbag. A long gold chain plunged down her neckline, bearing tiny letters in rubies, “Tina”.
She pulled a pink journal from her bag, and jotted something. “You can’t write much on a moving train!”, Ram said, to break the ice. She glared. He flashed a charming smile. Her luscious lips, painted in soft hues of pink, returned his smile and she looked down. Ram looked away. Then, she looked up. And their eyes met, more than once.
The compartment was cramped. A baby started crying. The mother, a rather plump, but pleasant-faced woman tried to pacify the child. “Don’t cry, Darling. We’ll reach soon!”.
Tina tried to concentrate, but the baby’s cries pierced through the compartment. She raised her manicured hand and delicately massaged her temples.
As if to distract herself, she suddenly turned towards Ram and said “I’m an events manager..”. Ram nodded, surprised.
“You know, Jo, the famous actress, is having her first baby-shower ? I’m organizing it!”.
“There’s so much to do! Look at this list!”, she continued excitedly, and showed him the journal.
“Interesting”, said Ram, surprised to see the words sprawled haphazardly, in big, childish letters.
“Its a wonderful event for a woman…” she turned the gilt-edged page…”I’ve even designed Jo’s outfit. Isn’t my drawing beautiful?”
The baby in the compartment wailed. Tina shut her ears. “Babies are such a pain, aren’t they?!”, she whispered loud enough for the mother to able to hear.
“I mean, they just cry all the time. And the dowdy-looking mother! Can’t she tell the kid to shut up?!”
Ram shifted uncomfortably, and looked apologetically towards the mother. And angrily at Tina.
“What?! Its true. Children are demons!”, Tina scowled, looking more ugly than he could imagine.
The mother seemed oblivious to Tina’s rude comments. She lifted her baby out of the pram and rocked gently, until the sobs receded. The baby smiled, a lovely dimple forming in each cheek. The mother smiled back and kissed her forehead.
“Phew!”, said Tina, and resumed her monologue. She wrote down something on a page, tore it out, and pushed it into Ram’s hand. “Call me sometime!”, she said, with a feminine tilt of her head.
Ram looked confused, then slowly crumpled the sheet and pushed it back into her hands.
“Tina, your journal’s attractive .. Only on the outside”.
He looked away, towards the mother and child.
The next stop arrived. The mother pushed the pram towards Ram.
Ram put his arm protectively over her and said “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you when our baby was crying, Meera. I just couldn’t move through the crowd!”