This post is written on the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge2019.
C FOR CAMBODIA:
This South-East Asian nation is known for its Hindu legacy preserved in the ruins of Angkor Wat, and the terrible tyranny under Pol Pot’s reign. Its friendly people, serene Mekong river, tasty Asian cuisine, and lovely beachside landscapes have also begun to pull in the crowds.
I visited Cambodia in March 2015, on holiday with my husband’s family. My in-laws prefer to relax on vacation, so we parked ourselves for 6 days in a gorgeous erstwhile colonial French villa, in the sleepy beachside town of Kep. Our days were divided between the pool, beach, delicious freshly-prepared food, books, family bonding and sleep. The local crab market, a boat cruise to a nearby island, and massages on the beach; were the highlights of our stay.
We also stayed at the capital city of Phnom Penh for a night, where we visited fantastic museums, and enjoyed the colonial hangover the city was steeped in. Of the memorable moments from this trip, here’s the one that really stands out.
CREATION OF A CARE-GIVER IN CAMBODIA:
This was my first trip with my husband’s family. The group included my parents-in-law, my brother-in-law with wife and two kids (aged 11 and 9), and my sister-in-law with husband and two kids (aged 5 and 3). I was just about settling into being a ‘Chawla’, and children hadn’t been discussed or planned at this point.
As we got on the flight to Cambodia, my sister-in-law quipped lightly, “it’s good you’ll be living in close quarters with the kids. They’re the best form of birth control- you may not want to have your own after this experience!” I laughed it off lightly, but found myself taking mental notes the entire trip.
The 9-year-old still had nightmares, and often climbed into her parents’ bed; both sets of parents travelled with a suitcase full of medicines to counter any medical emergency; the younger children had to be constantly entertained and often the day’s itinerary would be tailored around activities they’d enjoy; dal-chawal recipes had to be Youtube’d to show the Cambodian cooks in residence; sunburn, mosquitoes, and sea-sickness took on a whole new meaning. However, I also keenly observed the cuteness and abundance of unconditional love that only children can shower on you, which led to the first flicker of a maternal instinct.
On my return, I was significantly more clued in to parenting practices than before. Much to my surprise and delight, I conceived two months later. Far from being the best method of birth-control, my sweet nieces and nephews proved to be the opposite 😉
Come back tomorrow for the letter D and another story!
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*Unless specified, all pictures are taken on my phone. Copyright belongs to nooranandchawla.
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