So today I am writing to you from the Ashram. Yesterday evening we safely arrived back home with our baby girl Apra. In the afternoon Ramona and Apra were discharged from the hospital and Purnendu came to pick us up in Delhi. This is how Apra’s first small journey after coming into this world started.
It is a drive of about three hours from the hospital to the Ashram. Of course my German wife wants to do everything very properly and she said that we needed a car seat to bring the baby from Delhi to Vrindavan. We had bought it in advance and Purnendu had brought the seat to the hospital. In the parking lot of the hospital, people got to see something new when Yashendu was fixing the seat into our car. Many of them must have wondered what exactly this was until finally it was installed according to the instructions in the manual and we could place our daughter into the seat.
We started in the afternoon and Yashendu drove carefully in direction Vrindavan. Our Apra actually already travelled a lot before her birth – by car, train and even plane! Now, on her second day out of the womb, we were on the way. She is already a real traveller like her parents!
As every newborn baby, she spends most of her time sleeping and that she also did, cozily in her seat in the back of the car, Ramona next to her and I next to Ramona. We had decided before that we would divide the journey in two parts so that Apra’s small belly would not have to wait for so long for another round of food. After our stop, Apra fell asleep peacefully again and we could continue.
She really slept very peacefully until we were about twenty kilometers before Vrindavan. At one point she started waking up and noticed her surroundings. She must have been thinking ‘What is this? I am sitting here, all tied up and there is nobody to take me in their arms!’ She started crying loudly. I asked Ramona to just lift her up for a short time. Yashendu, anyway driving carefully, slowed down a bit more and Ramona unbuckled her and got her out of the seat into her lap. The moment she was in the safe hands of her mother, the small one stopped crying. The loving touch of her mother reassured her that the world was still fully fine and she was taken care of. Within not even five minutes she was fast asleep again and Ramona placed her back into the seat.
With this, I remembered an incident of the year 2005, when Purnendu visited me in Germany. One of my friends was driving the car and her child, a few months old, was sitting in the car seat behind me, next to Purnendu. Suddenly the baby started crying out loud. Purnendu could not stop himself from unbuckling the child and lift her out to calm her. He took her in his arms but the mother started protesting loudly. ‘You cannot do this, put her back!’ When Purnendu answered ‘But she is crying!’, the mother answered ‘She has to bear this, it is not allowed, put her back!’ Obviously Purnendu did as she requested.
I remembered this incident yesterday, told about it and said to Ramona ‘This is India, the Indian highway, the car is driving very slowly. I know, with a very German attitude you would not take her out but I just cannot leave a two-day-old child crying in the seat!’ My child is half-Indian, my wife has spent a long time in India and among Indians and we agreed that we cannot be very German about this point because we cannot bear hearing and seeing our tiny baby cry like this. Your reaction is of course a question of different cultures, of how you grew up yourself and how your mind developed. This is how I know I definitely react different from how a typical German might react.
The remaining journey went just as smooth and when we arrived in Vrindavan, the whole Ashram family was waiting to welcome its youngest member. Everybody was waiting excitedly, from young to old, and everyone greeted us and of course our little one with much happiness.
I know many phone calls have come for congratulations and I was often not available. There are many mails for this purpose or others. I tell you the truth however, we arrived yesterday evening and until now, whenever I want to read something, I can concentrate for a minute or two and then my mind goes to my daughter. I get up and see where she is and what she is doing, I take her in my arms or just watch her. I cannot keep my mind of her and cannot keep myself away from her. So I hope you all excuse me and understand if I may not be available to take your phone call or reply any mail. Give me some time, I will definitely phone you, write to you and be in touch. Thank you for your congratulations and wishes!
On the first day I shared my daughter’s first smiling pictures with you and today, on the third day I feel that her smile is even more shining. I am happy to share all these experiences and feelings with you. You know that I am a very expressive person and as at this stage there is nothing more important in my life than my family, we have agreed that in the next days, weeks and months, there will probably many more diaries about our baby, about babies in general and about parenting. I don’t claim that we will be perfect parents or that such a thing even exists but I will share my thoughts and how we are raising our little one.
Right now, Apra is sleeping in my mother’s arms and she is calling me. I have to go.