Chetna Ori : On Being an Expat Mom
We live in a world where geographical boundaries are blurring, and living outside of the country of your nationality is a very common practice - whether it is for education, employment or in the case of Chetna : for love <3
Chetna was born in Nowgong (Madhya Pradesh, IN); raised all over India (read : army kid), and now lives in Mauritius, with her lovely husband, Ajay and 5 year old baby boy, Milan. We got her to speak to us about being a parent, and raising an Indian child outside of India.
Milan wears the Leafy Forest Big Boy Shirt
Miko Lolo : Have you noticed any major differences in the parenting style in India and Mauritius?
Chetna : One major difference that I noticed is that here kids spend most of the time within their homes/family and don’t mingle around with other kids. Playing outside with other kids is as if very much missing, in most cases. Also, parents seldom scold or check their kids and let them do whatever they want to. I guess because they seldom spend time with kids as both parents are working and kids are left with nannies/caretakers or at daycare.
Milan wears the Blue Blooms Shirt
Is there something you feel like you really struggle with, being an expat mom?
For me, it's only the language (French) which fortunately Milan picked up quite well, and his father also is French-speaking. For that I have to depend on them. Otherwise nothing major.
How do you approach teaching Milan about Indian culture and traditions?
We often talk about India, read books on mythology and definitely we celebrate festivals like Diwali, Holi, Lohri, etc and we try to celebrate adapting all the details so that he can get the real feel of the festival. We also have a small puja ghar at home and Milan joins in for prayers. Also doing some yoga. Most importantly I speak with him in Hindi so that he stays in touch with it and can speak and understand Hindi.
Milan wears the Citrus Short Kurta
Are there any specific magazines, books you read, shows, movies you watch, or songs that you listen to with Milan, to help him understand the Indian culture better?
He loves listening to some Punjabi songs mainly because of the catchy beats and our age-old Hindi songs for kids like 'nani teri morni ko', 'lakdi ki kaathi', 'chanda hai tu' (he loves this one as I have been singing this ever since he was a baby), and many more.
On a scale of 1-10, how protective would you say you are?
Hunnnn... that’s a difficult question! As any mother, I am strongly protective of him. I wouldn’t let anyone harm him in any way. But at the same time, I encourage him to take risks and do things like climbing a tree without help, fall, get dirty, and so on. He has to learn and grow stronger. Now I don’t know how would you rate that!
Do you find it easy to let Milan be independent?
Yes, more or less.
One life lesson you wish for Milan to imbibe early on?
Don’t get fooled by people (which no one ever really learns), and don’t copy anyone. Be yourself.
How different would you say your childhood was, to Milan’s?
Very different in almost everything. We used to play a lot with the neighborhood kids and we'd be going to anyone’s place at any time. As such we had almost no boundaries. Which is not the case now. Though in Milan’s case we are lucky that he is still not with a mobile phone, iPad, TV and such gadgets. We used to get all the hand-me-downs from our older brother, sister, cousins, but in his case, he gets everything new (no choice as he is the only kid, hahaha). Special treats were so rare in our days... now a thing like a cake, or candy is available so easily. Now they have so many varieties of toys. Too many things.
What is your favourite pastime together?
Doing all kind of masti, can’t be explained!
A song you both love listening to?
Nani teri morni ko mor le gaye...
& a short conversation with Milan :
Miko Lolo : If you were given one superpower, what would you choose?
Milan : A dragon! (so excitedly)
What is your favourite class in school?
The medium section (his class, lower KG)
What is your favourite thing to do on a holiday?