Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Maya returns one year on....

Exactly one year ago, a three year old girl called Maya, with a mop of strawberry blond curls padded along the tiled floor of Bangalore Airport, away from India, and towards England. She clutched a balloon in one hand, her Daddy's hand in the other and a head full of experiences of her year in India.

And now, one year on, does she remember anything when she pulls out some Indian clothes from her dressing up box?

Or when I serve up a meal of  palak aloo and chapattis (the only Indian food to pass Maya's lips the whole time we were there)?

Or when I put some Indian music on?

Or when I light incense?

Does she remember anything at all, or have these memories fluttered from her head like long-forgotten butterflies?

Well, I decided to ask the little lady herself and find out....

Maya is now a very grown up four and a half year old school girl. Here she is on her first ever day of big school back in September, with little sister Lily:

When I posed the question to Maya, if she remembered anything about her time in India, she replied 'I remember the park.' The park in question was a patch of grass opposite where we lived, a bit pathetic really BUT to us in fume choked Bangalore, it was a little patch of green and peace. Every afternoon, when the sun had lost its strength, we would join the throngs to 'perambulate' around the paved exterior of the park (we were told on more than one occasion that we should skidaddle out of the central grassy bit as it was riddled with snakes!), Maya generally on her scooter and Lily taking her first tentative steps. Here's a picture of one of the many early evenings we spent in this park, often accompanied by an eight year old called Malama (who eventually inherited Maya's scooter) and her little sister...

There was a spot in the middle of the park where families often congregated and a large rock which the children enjoyed climbing.  Maya liked running around the rock

and sitting on top of it, pondering her kingdom from the top of her castle. She's still an observer; a thinker.

The other thing she said she remembered about her time in India was Aanya, her friend from Kidspace Montessori School. This doesn't surprise me - the two of them became great chums and Maya still enjoys making the below photo into a jigsaw puzzle that I had made for both of them when we left Bangalore.

When I asked Maya if she remembered anything else, she said 'No.' 'Really? Nothing else?' I coaxed. 'No,' she said again, 'That's It.' Conversation closed. Oh. I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed....silly, isn't it. There were far more important things to talk about in Maya's world, such as the upcoming Nativity Play at school, or what colours she was going to use for her new picture (Maya's latest obsession).

I let it go, but a while later I pulled out a small album I made of our time in India. I started flicking through it, and Maya, always wanting to know what I'm doing, peered at the book. 'Oh!' she exclaimed. 'I remember
that....and that...and that!' As I turned the pages, she pointed out various things she remembered and scrunched up her nose at the things she did not. 

I'd like to share a few of Maya's remembrances with you. As well as the park and her friend Aanya, Maya remembers...

Lily's yellow Rajesthani dress with the sequins
tropical flowers floating on water
fishing with Daddy in a lake
Ganesh, the elephant God
the gaping holes in the pavements
the colourful sarees
a beautiful Kathak dancer
eating from a banana leaf
learning chess with Daddy in Mysore at the Green Hotel
the jungle
Lily's 1st birthday
Maya's 3rd birthday and her tiger cake
the flaming red gulmohar trees
baths in buckets
sleeping on the train
school sports day, as it turns out, Maya actually remembers a huge amount. It made me think though, are these real memories? Well, yes, they are. They're just prompted by images, as so many things often are for us. 

It's hard to believe that this time last year, my little girl was singing Tweenkle tweenkle leetle star with an Indian accent to die for, wearing bangles on her wrists

and bindis on her forehead

 and experiencing her very own India from her Daddy's back

 and needing very little coaxing to wear utterly gorgeous outfits like this

(If I ever suggest she wear any of her old Indian clothes now, Maya gives me a priceless 'You are utterly barmy' look)

Here's the little lovely now...

and here she is again (yup, she ain't camera shy)

A fantastic four year old who loves colouring, tap dancing, yoga (seriously!), books, bedtime, things being 'just so' (at parents' consultation, her teacher commented that Maya's favourite thing at school is 'the rules'!!, baked beans on toast with grated cheese, train journeys, singing and the cream off the top of the milk.

And so, it's the end of adventuring Maya for now. But take a look at this photo:

You see the little nugget in the strappy yellow sundress, looking across at her big sister? This is Lily Catarina, and she still looks at her big sister...for inspiration, for songs, for drama and for chuckles. Yet she couldn't be a more different character from Maya. Here is a close-up photo of Lily in India...

(this was after Deepa had got her hands on her to oil to hair and pencil in her eyebrows!!!).

And here is a close up of Lily now, aged two and a half years:

Lily's been waiting in the wings, you see, to take centre stage on her Mama's blogging patform. And although we haven't the foggiest where Andy's work will take us next (Mozambique? Ghana? Kenya? Mali? Madagascar???), one thing is certain - that adventuring Lily will be raring to go. To give you a sneak preview of Lily's character, listen to this song. It's a song called Lily and is by a brilliant band called Pink Martini and whenever it comes on, Lily flings aside whatever she's doing, shrieks 'Lily's song!!' and hurls herself on to the dance floor to wiggle her little hips. She's feisty this one... this space.


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