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As the summer holidays for kids draw to a close in a week’s time, something that I am awaiting with a bated breath, I can’t help but look back at how my own summer vacations transpired in my childhood years. Yes, bouts of nostalgia are hitting me frequently even though I am in my late thirties only. Looks like age is catching up :).

Yep, summer vacations meant lugging bag and baggage and the entire family of 5 to my maternal grandparents’ home. We spent almost the entire vacation in that house with my grandfather, maternal uncle, aunt and my cousins. There were other relatives too who stayed in the vicinity. The times were so much fun in those days. Luscious mangoes in large drums soaking in water, musk melons and water melons awaited us every day. The hot gulab jumans from the halwai in a large earthern kullad — can’t seem to forget its rich, sweet and luscious taste even now. And so many other treats not to forget all the pickles that mom churned out. We would climb up shahtoot trees, pluck mogras and custard apples, admire the delectable varieties of roses, hang around with the maali and gorge on homemade gur. We kids would quarrel, make up and again quarrel and find time to play in all this. We were blessed to have huge lawns and also play area where we could yell and scream and yet not disturb the adults. As long as we kept to ourselves, the adults left us and our mischief alone. We were out of the house and their hair.

I distinctly remember the joy on those rare occasions when my dad and uncle would also join our cricket matches. Oh yes, girls and boys played together. My uncle also loved flying kites, and we fought over who would hold the charkhi. Even when we moved out of UP, we tried to keep up with this routine for as long as we could. Now with my grandparents gone and also my uncle and aunt, I haven’t visited my nanihal for more than 2 decades but the memories are as fresh as rose dew.

Compare that to the vacations of my kids. The sizes of houses have shrunk and so have the playgrounds and parks. Where are the trees to climb and pluck fruits from? Yet, I see many women I know taking off on month-long holidays to their hometowns with kids in tow.  I guess, both the husband and the wife could do with some change :). For women, it is a great opportunity to put up their feet and put behind the harsh routine of daily lives. The whole rigmarole of cooking, cleaning, planning, sending the kids and husband to school and office respectively,to get some good old-fashioned pampering from their parents and feel like kids themselves. This option is only open to women who don’t work professionally or like me can work from anywhere :). Those with desk jobs can’t take so many offs. Yet, I cannot do this. For one my mom passed away, so that feeling of maayka is sorely missing. Dad is welcoming, but he works even after retirement. Since all us siblings work, the vacations are not the same anymore in any of our homes. Kids meet and have fun but feel a bit constrained in smaller spaces. Also our vacations have now shrunk to below a week. We are so comfortable in our own homes and settings that we begin to get antsy elsewhere. I for one, need my own system to work. I hate working on laptops that I have to do when I travel. I have become so intolerant to harsh weather having been spoiled by a decade of living in Bangalore, that is the only home I know now.

So yes, vacations for kids are more about summer camps than about reconnecting with their extended families now. This year, I decided not to put both of them in summer camps. Let them monkey around, sleep late, get up early, do what they wanted.  It was a brave decision considering that both of us work from home. But it worked out! The elder one ganged up with other kids to play cricket or football. The sessions extended for hours together. The younger one either participated there or did his own thing. Either way, I got more time on hand to complete my work.  It wasn’t easy but hopefully they had more fun! And now the annual routine is staring me back in the face. The same getting up early and rushed mornings. Sigh!

What are your summer vacations memories? And if you have kids, how do you keep them engaged?

Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net

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61 Thoughts on “Summer holidays — the magical days of childhood!

  1. It was just the same at my granny’s place for us! Grandparents had a huge farm with buffaloes. We used to have a gala time bathing and feeding the buffaloes, picking up vegetables from the farm and then swimming in the big water tank which was also on the farm. In the evenings, we used to have orange candy /milk bar from the ice-cream vendor, who used to get a size-able business from us everyday!
    Things have changed dramatically now…
    True, we are so used to our comfort zones that staying away from home for long is simply a no-no!

  2. Wow those were the days! Every summer, we as children,spent in Mussoorie. We were in Dehra Dun. Mussoorie was just one hours drive. It used to be great fun. Trekking, skating and dncing were our daily activities.

  3. Nani house … and to dad’s village … it was so much fun .. watching nature and feeling it .. those fields … the huge trees and the pipal tree stories of witches by the relatives staying there. Bathing in the gush of ‘Pumping – Set ‘ water … cousins ,cousins and more cousins… so much fun … we used to have !!
    Although I am yet to be a parent yeah I know nowadays its the summer camps .. sometimes the schools organize it… I feel … holidays are meant for fun and no learning please !! the way it used to be for us two decades back !! 🙂
    I have added you on Indi.. now by no chance I will miss your awesome posts !! 🙂

  4. My summer holidays were spent monkeying around in the garden. Picking a mango as and when I felt lik eating one and then going on vacation to Mangalore.
    For my son it is India now, meeting family but no, no gardens or climbing trees for him as now all stay in apartments. 🙁

    • My dad tells me that he loved picking mangoes and guavas in his village’s orchard. Sadly, we never ever went to his village. But his tales are surely fascinating. All city dwellers can only take people around to malls :(.

  5. Hmmm…I had done a post on this sometime back. In my school days, we used to get school concession passes for students. We can go to our native place (for me, Udupi) with a minimum cost. So all the five of us used to go there for a month or so. Can you dream of going and staying anywhere for such a long period or welcoming anyone to stay for such a long time. One week is the most we can tolerate others! For my children, I was taking them to Udupi or my sis in law’s daughter and my sister’s daughter used to come home. So, all of them used spend time together. Summer camps were not yet famous then. I remember my younger son going to cricket coaching class, extra time. He was going to that class on normal days too. Otherwise, it is carrom, chess, table tennis inside the house, scrabble etc. Beaches and other usual places to visit. I don’t work outside, so cook different things all the time! Still those were happy days than now…both are working. One is abroad. No change in daily routine! Nieces are married. Sometimes they come with their kids for a couple of days, over!

    What you did this summer is good. Children are very stressed out, I feel, nowadays. They should relax like this once in a while!

    Take care.

    • Do share the URL of your post. Wow, that’s nice! You got concessions to go to Udupi. Yes, we also played a lot of chess, carrom, scrabble etc.You are right; we are each so comfortable in our lives and homes that adjustments are a strain and we just can’t stay away for too long from our homes. I know, I miss that part too. With both the husband and wife working, it leaves no room for taking long leisurely vacations or entertaining someone. Sad but true :(.

  6. Summer holidays. . . Nani House. . . Lot of fun. . Those days. . .

  7. Oh you just brought back those lovely memories… I wanna run back in time…had to Nani’s place..cousins… roaming around.. licking ice-creams…playing ludos and scrabble..those drums of mangoes..WOW…
    Great u let around your kids do as they wished… a change from the daily routine is necessary to re-freshen.

    P.S. I am from U.P. too.. Which city?

    • Thank you Manjulika. Glad the post took you back to fond memories. My nanihal was in Unnao, close to Kanpur. Do you know where that is?

  8. Beautiful nostalgic post. I wonder as to how you have not visited your Nanihaal for all these years. You have mentioned Custard Apple too and I presume they are Sitafal. Do you have them in Summer?

    • Welcome P.N.Subramaniam hope I spelt your name correctly. We did visit Nainital in our childhood with cousins. And then about a couple of years back, I went there again. It is still so beautiful. I felt really nostalgic. Now you are right about sitaphal or sharifa as we used to call them. Perhaps they were not there in summers but winters. I remember the big tree that was right near the porch and we kids loved the fruit. Maybe, we must have picked them during our Diwali vacations.

  9. You are awakening long forgotten places and fun games!.
    You are making us go back to our summer holidays. We had an entire village to play to , lots of friends, boys and girls. we used to go to pluck mangoes, pluck sugarcane from the fields, uproot fresh groundnut plants and enjoy the juicy nuts, used to plunge in the water gurgling out of pumps( just introduced those days), help my aunts to tie the aboli flowers, help to make pickles, play games in the wooden trays with cowrys….We were one with nature and that helped later.

    Wonderful post. Nostalgia . Yes, the city bred kids are missing out a lot on natural atmosphere and fun filled activities. But , I see many parents go out of the way to inculcate interest .

    • Thank you Pattu! How beautiful those memories are. Sadly with passing days, we have lost those memories and places too. I wish I could take my kids back there. It has been so long and now that place I heard is in ruins with no one to look after it :(.

  10. Ah nostalgia! What will we do without it? I remember spending so many summer vacations with our family friends in Almora, Nainital and Ranikhet. I had fun then, as I recall, but somehow now I can’t even stand the smell of “hill stations”!
    I didn’t know schools reopen in June in Bangalore. In Delhi, they are closed from mid-May to early July.

    • I love Nainital. We had gone there in our childhood. And then a couple of years back we went again. It is still a lovely place to go to! More commercialized now but great still.
      Yep, schools close by March end and open on 1st June every year in Bangalore :).

  11. You sure are getting nostalgic.. 🙂 Don’t blame it on the age..I live in nostalgia half my life. :P..My grandpa was a school teacher..so granny would pack bags and cook big can of sweets and come and stay with us. Some holidays, we would go there..as they would have transfers..each alternate summer would be at a diff village..but it was fun..the power cuts..flying kites..I wonder why has it changed so much in 2 decades? smaller homes..no parks..now staying here, many families visit home once in two years…Rushi went to canada to visit my SIL a year, to India last year, this year to my sis’s place and as such I have a big family this time..:) No summer camps here too..

    • hehe Chalo theek hai. I was wondering if old age is hitting me so soon ;-). I don’t know if our children will reminisce as well. Do you think we are creating good memories for them?

  12. Even I have lovely memories like everyone here. That, so much can change is just two decades is something that surprises me. I don’t think of those days . . . They make me feel quite surreal and the reality feels quite grim. I’m yet to have kids and no matter how I try to recreate those lovely days, I will be unable to do so. The smells and tastes of those summers were just magic and now that magic is replaced by another one. Your nostalgic post was a treat, Rachna. For some time, you forced the memories to surface. Now, you’ve left me longing.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    • Awww Susan, aren’t we all in the same boat! Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed by the memories too of the places and people that are gone forever. I often wonder if my kids will look back and reminisce the same way as we do cherishing every small and minor detail.

  13. Rachna we used to go to chennai to my paternal grand father’s place bang in the middle of the city but we had our own share of fun . We used to stop every vendor who passed the street and my grand dad had small change ready to treat us . Mangoes , musk melons formed an inseparable part of the summer of course along with trips to the beach . Plus Mylapore that area is renowned for temples and we used to visit a few of them .

    • Sounds lovely, Jaish especially those fond memories of grandparents. For me, my grandparents passed away some time ago. And the most vivid memories are of my maternal grandfather.

  14. Rahul on May 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm said:

    The post brought a nostalgia of the bygone days when the routine like yours was emulated. Would need another post to pen all the thoughts, Rachna:)

  15. Nostalgia!! Though my summer memories are slightly different (Had no grandparents) but I remember swings, bicycles, Chacha chowdhri, hours and hours of endless plays in the afternoon with my gully gang :-)….Wish my kids could experience some of it…..

  16. Each & every word rings true Rachna.It looks like those days are gone for ever..How i miss them!

  17. Those were some really great days. Ya climbing up the trees was a routine and i wonder how our kids will do that. When I was very little and my summer vacations were on but mom still had some days of school left (she was a teacher), I used to accompany her and then used to fancy the mulberry trees that were so abundant in her campus.

  18. My summer hols were full of paddy fields, mango trees, visits to the temple pond, roasting cashew nuts, enjoying the cashew fruit and generally running around with cousins. With a full time job now, such vacations are not possible now. Also, there is no one at my father’s ancestral home where all this used to happen. Your post brought all those memories back. 🙂

    Yes, kids today don’t have vacations like that. And saying that makes me feel like a nani! But they can’t miss what they don’t know about, right? 🙂 It’s a sad truth.

    • Same with me, DC! That ancestral place has no one to really care for it.. So very sad. And yes, they certainly will not miss what they never had. Hopefully their memories will be as nostalgic as ours in a different way :).

  19. Smita on May 27, 2013 at 4:55 pm said:

    Ah! I so miss those days!!! I still remember my Naani’s house and wish to take my hubby & son there one day. (It is not liveable as per my Mom) but there history there which is pretty irreplacable!

    • Same with me. I have heard that the house is in ruins. Somewhere it will break my heart especially when there will be so many fond memories formed there. But hopefully some day I can go back.

  20. Summer vacations for me meant having my Mom at home. She was a teacher and it’s during vacations when we finally had her all to ourselves. She would read out stories to us, make our favourite dishes. And we loved travelling. So we’d traverse the length and breadth of the country and then head to my grandparent’s place at Lucknow.

    • And you must have cherished that. All the traveling we did was mostly to nana’s place in both summer holidays and Diwali time. And your grandparents’ place was in Lucknow. Mine was in Unnao. That is close to Kanpur :).

  21. It was fun.t used to be a joint family of 10-15 members.
    But,times have changed.Family size is gettig smaller.Nanital or Mussorie are a No No for present day kids for holidays…It is Switzerland,Australia deending upon the season.

    • True though we never lived in a joint family but we enjoyed meeting with family. These days with working women, there is hardly any time that one can spend in each other’s house without interfering with their routines. And we still take our children to places closeby — Ooty or Kerala are heavenly :).

  22. First time here and what a lovely post to start reading your blog with .. Your post brought back a lot of memories of vacations spent at Granma’s house and the fun with cousins.. Its pretty sad that these days kids have to contend with summercamps..

    • Thank you so much Bhargavi! Delighted to have you in my space. Am so glad you connected with that post. Indeed those were magical memories.

  23. You made me homesick. Those were good old days. Now kids eat mangoes from Refrigerator.

    • This year kids got to pluck and eat naturally ripened mangoes from dadi’s garden. That was a wonderful adventure for sure :). And then we crib that children think that fruits and veggies grow in supermarkets.

  24. Sweet post. You made me nostalgic about my own holidays. They were special to me because it was a break from boarding school (although I really loved school). And what better place to holiday in than Waynad. 🙂
    And yes — my cousins and I would get together at my maternal grand parents’, every vacation. 🙂

    All the best for the next academic year, Rachna.

  25. I work outside home so unfortunately, my boys will be going to summer camp. I really feel bad not being able to let them while away their time like I used to!

    • I understand that Roshni and that is so unavoidable :(. One does feel bad for them but I guess you will choose a real fun camp where they will have loads of fun.

  26. My daughter is to start school soon, but I completely agree to every word you have mentioned. My vacations meant going to our grand parents and having the time of our life. Our parents didn’t bother if we had food on time and slept nicely. 🙂
    I also believe though it is unavoidable to completely ignore camps, we should choose keeping the interest of the child in mind. Also while planning the schedule we should always keep space for fun 🙂

    http://www.momsters.in

    • Agree Falak! We can’t possibly do away with the camps. We need time for our professional work too. And I could only do it because I work from home. And yes, there are camps that are oriented to only fun. I guess even the kids look forward to going there instead of sitting tight lipped and plonked in front of TV all day :).

  27. Holidays, that too summer holidays are meant for rest and enjoyment and fun and I hate to see so many camps coming up that deprive the children of fun. These summer holidays used to be an excuse for all of us to get under one roof, all my cousins and I can’t stop thinking of the awesome days that we all spent. Ah, Nostalgic.

  28. For a moment, I felt like my own childhood summer holiday stories are written here. Always have ended up going to Granny’s place, played in the streams, climbed up gauva tree, played hopscotch, driven TVS50 moped when I was 10 years, seen movies in small theatres where only benches were there. Those were THE days!! Children of this generation is missing all that fun!! Felt nostalgic ..now lemme go and reminisce about those days…

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