Dragon Rider, Horse Whisperer & Stroller Mesmerizer

Couple Struggle and look for Stroller Counselling

Life for Londoners took an amusing turn on this cold day in April as they watched a couple struggle with collapsing a stroller on the London subway. The usually good team hit unexpected snags and delayed pedestrian traffic as they moved over to the corner to enable rampaging Londoners to proceed during peak commute times. When interviewed later, the harried looking couple apologized for the trauma it caused fellow commuters. Fellow commuters, when interviewed, said the act was among the best shows of comedy they’d witnessed on an earnest and stern working day and many said they planned to laugh over the whole thing at home that evening.

In case people missed the fabricated news item – there it is. The unfortunate couple mentioned is us and the stroller was not ours. Being parents twice over and aunt/uncle multiple times over gives us a certain over-confidence when it comes to handling strollers. I mean how hard can it be? There is a lever there – push it down along with the button here and down it goes. Collapse – small and easy. Then you tuck the beautiful thing under your arm like an umbrella, competently hold your baby in the other and stride forth with your shoulders straight and your chin set to face the challenges of the World. Right? Wrong!

Just as we were leaving for a spot of sight-seeing about town, the brother and his wife(bless them) handed us their stroller and nudged us on. ‘Go on – it is small, quick and easy’ Ours being in the garage still, we gushed our thanks out and carried the stroller down 2 flights of stairs. I then pushed the thing about and it went. It took me a few minutes to realise that strollers have personalities. You read of horses and dragons training their riders – The Dragon Rider, The Horse Whisperer. No one talks of The Stroller Mesmerizer – but they should.

Just goes to prove that looking innocent and standing by the door isn’t always what it seems. It did not seem to like taking directions from a new stroller pusher. So, it would exert its personality and show you whose boss. I’d try to make it turn left to cross the road or something and the stroller would want to do nothing more than observe the pebble on the right. We coaxed and cajoled the beautiful green stroller and strolled along the beautiful streets of London (I find complimenting a stroller works.) I must also come clean and say the stroller was not the preferred mode of transport for the one person capable of sitting in one and half the time, the stroller gulped and set aside its pride and ferried assorted bags instead of a baby.

Marengo(Napolean’s illustrious war mount) would have been upset if Napolean got excited by a pig, when he was doing the important work of ferrying his rider into battles wouldn’t he?

It was the same with the stroller. I mean if I were a stroller and my rider showed visible signs of excitement at a painting of a horse while sitting on me, I’d be pretty upset which is what my little one did. Which is why I don’t entirely blame the stroller for acting up the way it did. But boy! Did it give us a shock? There we are: charging along the subway looking to catch the blue train home. Just before we took an escalator down, we stopped to fold the stroller. I hung the baby under my arm and pulled 3 bags from the stroller and hung them on various spots of my body.

The husband then tried to collapse the stroller. I watched him for a few minutes and then started doing the best thing in the world. Giving directions.
Just collapse it.
There must be a lever on the right.
No? Then, there must be one on the left.

The key thing to do while giving dumb instructions is to ignore the exasperated looks of the receiver. When beads of sweat appear on a cold London evening, you know you got to help. So, I upped the stupidity quotient of the instructions.

Check under the seat.
Maybe, the rain shield is blocking the folding mechanism.
Here, let me hold the stroller while you look under the wheels.
Does this one have a gear? It did say Sports Model.

Pretty soon, the daughter decided to get in the action. So, the three of us pushed, grunted and shoved. I took on more movable parts of the stroller apart for convenience and the daughter saw something bend. So, we all heaved and pushed. We got the thing to collapse after 12 long minutes and were still left with the rain cover, the cup holder and something else in our hands separately. We turned our heads to find a commuter smiling at us and saying, ‘Oh you know – you needn’t have gone through all that, you could have just taken the elevator there and rolled yourself right on to the train.’

Duh. Next time. There is always a next time.

Never awaken a sleeping tiger cub…

Every time I step aboard a flight, I admire the space utilization measures the flight designers have taken. I am not sure that aero-dynamic designs appeal to me as much as the food trolley cart design or the way those trolleys slide neatly into closets designed for fitting one. If it was possible for a machine to compress us all into capsules and place us in an economy seat; I am sure the airline industry will be the first to embrace and implement such a strategy. The food trays, the trash compactors, the restrooms – they all seem to be tailored just about your outer seams. I think they expand and contract too. I mean when I go alone into the restroom,there seems to be just enough elbow room for me. When I go with my baby to change his diaper the same closet somehow takes on more space to allow for an inquisitive infant springing forth from my arms to ‘explore the surroundings’ and still not eject us out the door.

The most recent trip with my family to London and Scotland were done with the following as hand carry:
Daughter : 1 count
Infant son: 1 count
Diaper bag: 1 count
Backup diaper bag items in suitcase: 1 count
Spare clothes for all involved: x+3 count (I may be partially OCD, but I have seen a baby with nothing but a diaper on my travels because he wet his dress and vomitted on the spare one within 3 minutes of the flight taking off)
Stroller : 1 count
Car seat: 1 count
Laptops: 2 count
Book + Kindle etc (I am optimistic that way)

I can’t begin to explain the hash we made of things before settling down. The husband would deftly shove the suitcase in bin 2 , then pile our coats before placing the laptop bag and hang on the bin handle to close the bin, only to find that 10 minutes later, I’d want the backup fruit from the suitcase lodged at the bottom of the whole pile. The poor man may have grunted a couple of times, but it was lost in the melee. We were clearly spilling over our surroundings with just one person’s food. To think they served a whole flight full of people without tying bibs on anyone; not to mention spilling food on themselves or anybody else is amazing.

Another point to consider is that usually in flights, I rely on a combination of books and in-flight entertainment systems to tide me through the tortuous international travels, but this time I could have travelled on a bullock cart stowed in an airplane and I might have had had an easier time managing my little one. At one point when he slept, I squished myself into the seat without waking him up and tuned in to the in-flight entertainment with disastrous consequences. This I tell you after standing at the back of the flight near the restrooms for 2.5 hours continuously. So, you can imagine how relieved I was that he fell asleep. The details are still foggy, but somehow while plugging the ear-phones on, my sleeping little one managed to tie his shoe lace into the whole thing. This is the exact moment when the stewardess thought would be a great time to serve food. So, now I had the exit row seat with the in-flight entertainment screen pulled out, a sleeping infant with his shoe laces inexplicably tied to my headphones, the bassinet carrier open for placing my food tray on and a glass of juice in my hand. A more peaceful domestic scene one cannot see on flights. The stewardess flashed a partly sympathetic- partly ‘Good – now stay that way’ smile at me and moved on with her bulky trolley.

Then, the baby kicked in his sleep. I wonder whether you’ve seen these you-tube videos with card packs flopping down. Some poor soul spends hours building a castle of cards and then pulls one card off the beginning and the whole thing flops down nicely. It was like that.

Peaceful scene -> baby kicked in his sleep -> Kick tugged at ear phones and flopped earphones on eyes -> Eyes temporarily hit with ear-phones involuntarily moved hands spilling o.juice on adjoining areas,but deftly avoiding sleeping infant -> Avoided sleeping infant, but hit husband just when spoon with dal and basmati rice to hit tongue -> Basmati rice flying in flight with varying degrees of speed for the accompanying dal.

A loud silent roar erupted from the husband, but he managed to contain it. One does not awaken sleeping tiger cubs even if one’s basmati rice flies into the overhead bins of nearby flights.

To cut a long story short, we emerged victorious, if slightly dirty and stained from the flight. Anyone wanting to see me or my family are most welcome to come and visit me at home. I am happy to entertain!

PS: I loved this picture of the sleeping cub – so here it is.

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