Every parent faces challenges with child rearing, and if I thought life in India was challenging before I became a mother, I was living in a fairyland. Put aside the hurdles that all parents deal with – sleepless nights with crying children, tantrums, diarrhoea and vomiting (both of which are more frequent in India) – here are some additional obstacles one faces in the sub-continent.
There are few (if any) decent pavements to push a pram in India. During the one and only time I wheeled my daughter’s stroller down the road from our house, I swiftly steered around turds (dog or human one can never be too sure), potholes, festering garbage heaps covered in flies, mangy stray dogs, and illegally parked cars. At the same time I faced injury from the ear-splitting horns of rickshaws hooning past, and from overloaded bicycles ready to knock me over with one miscalculation of balance. I risked death from low hanging live electrical wires and overloaded trucks leaning precariously to one side.
Regular power cuts play havoc with mealtime, bath time, and bedtime. After a five-hour blackout in my street, our house back-up battery ran out of juice and my young children suddenly found themselves eating dinner in the dark. I ventured outside in the light of the moon to the shed to locate a torch, which our recently fired, alcoholic security guard had conveniently left with a broken bulb and empty of batteries. Phoning my neighbour for help she arrived with a miner’s torch, which I promptly strapped to my head like a pro and guided the kids upstairs to the bathroom. The bath filled with cold water (Indian hot water geysers are powered by electricity) and every time I turned my coal mining head to reach for the soap, inadvertently leaving my children in pitch darkness, they screeched in terror. When I put them to bed I had to leave the miner’s light sitting in the corner of their room to appease their fear of the dark. I crept downstairs, my knuckles turning white as I gripped the unseen handrail, and lit every candle I owned. The house looked like an eerie altar.
I am happy to say that 2013 will not involve any of the above now that I am living in sensible Singapore.