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I wrangled three weeks of leave from the boss, to his chagrin. I believe our relationship was never the same again, though maybe that’s just my guilt talking. Later, I realised his indecision was because a) he usually takes that block himself b) he’s a bad manager.

Anyway, it was worth it:

1. My primary reason for insisting on that entire stretch was that I wanted to maximise time with the sister, who I would be seeing after two years, and my newest and only nephew. This proved vindicated. That baby is adorbs. Nene in particularl bonded with him massively. V proved to me that he is ready for another baby in how he took care of this newest addition. Nevertheless, the exhaustion on my sister’s face is effective contraception.

2. For the past few years, my sis-in-laws have been grumbling about how they want to “go somewhere” for Christmas but can’t because we always visit at that time and refuse to go anywhere. The fact is that my first few visits to India with kids were so exhaustingly horrendous (see last sentence of last paragraph) that I embargoed further travel. This time I said yes, and they decided on a trip to their “native place” in Kerala. I was not thrilled for reasons described here.

In the end, it was okay. We rented a house which proved to be good because I could escape from being social now and then. Meeting the extended family was not as stilted as I expected it to be and the younger generation speaks English so I had some people to talk to. I can now remember most of them by name. It was interesting to visit the village and the food was overall awesome.

We also visited an elephant compound where temple elephants are housed. The creatures are amazing but they are tied up which is not.

3. The Bangalore leg of the trip has become easier and easier. My niece stays with us and there’s a cousins kid next door. The kids pretty much run riot all day with us only having to make sure they eat and have a bath. My in-laws are pretty peaceful with me (touch wood). I chatted with my mother in law a bit. I’m amazed at how much she does with her ailing health.

4. Not only had I agreed on a trip to Kerala, I planned a trip with my folks to Alibaug as well. It was good choice as we all got to kick back and relax. We stayed at the Radisson which is a nice property but some facilities are getting dated. What I appreciated was that the staff really are helpful, even though they struggled to keep up with demands. There were facilities for kids – and Nene discovered the joys of cricket.

Unfortunately the pool was a tad too cold. The beaches at Alibaug are a disappointment but we enjoyed a visit to the Kolaba Fort – which can be walked to at low tide but requires a boat a high tide.

I was not thrilled about the four-hour drive but it turned out that I almost enjoyed it. The key to a road trip is a good playlist and sleeping children.

5. The Bombay leg of the trip was the most tiring because we were a lot of people – three kids and a baby- in a relatively small house. We did trips to Borivali National Park, Kidzania and Juhu beach, the latter is clean enough that we let the kids play in the water.

6. Despite my best efforts I had a tummy upset and a sinus infection. I did not even drink alcohol or eat hot chips. The key I discovered is to nip it in the bud by getting antibiotics before it’s too severe.

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