What six-year-old Zeke Zidaan Warsi and three-year-old Zene Zoe Warsi enjoy most during the holidays is bathing their dog Tass, getting themselves drenched in the process, and then lying next to their pet on the terrace to dry themselves.
Keep ’em busy: Maria Goretti does not follow a very strict summer vacation activity schedule for Zeke and Zene. Yogen Shah
Their mother Maria Goretti laughs out loud as she conjures the image and says, “They think it’s great fun.”
Goretti used to spend her own holidays at her grandparents’ house in Vasai, where about half a dozen cousins and their mothers would congregate at the big house on a farm. She has many fond memories—including one of dangling from the branch of a tamarind tree that stood near the well. “The branch was right above the well. We’d swing on it and let go to fall straight into the water,” she recalls. Another memory is of waiting with a bucket for the ice-candy man. Life, she says, was uncomplicated back then.
The same pleasures are not possible in a flat in Versova, Mumbai. “I’d love to give Zeke and Zene the unstructured holidays that I had but it’s difficult to do that when you’re living in the heart of the city. They are awake for at least 12 hours a day and they can’t be sitting on the couch doing nothing,” says Goretti.
Hence, planning a routine becomes crucial—though she says her experience shows you can never have a “plan” when it comes to children. “One fun thing a day”—that is the target.
During holidays, breakfast is set out on the terrace to give it a “picnic” feel. Goretti involves Zeke in cooking one snack a day. He’s allowed to stir the pasta or lay out a sandwich. He enjoys this so much that Goretti is enrolling him in a children’s cooking class for the summer.
As the elder child, Zeke has a more structured routine than Zene. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he goes for Kapawara classes. Kapawara is a Brazilian dance-cum-martial arts form. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, an instructor comes home to teach him to play the keyboard. On Thursdays and Fridays, he goes to the Raheja club to learn tennis. And on Saturdays, along with six of his friends, Zeke learns yoga from his mom.
Zene, on the other hand, spends most of her time playing with her neighbourhood friends. She has only one class, art, which Zeke too is part of. Goretti is looking for another activity for her but hasn’t found anything exciting yet. One must-do summer activity for both Zeke and Zene is to watch all the children’s plays that are performed at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu.
The idea behind sending the children for classes, says Goretti, is not to give them an “all-intelligent” summer but to keep them engaged with activities that she is sure they will enjoy. Besides, “I need that breather so that I can be myself and then go back to being mummy,” she says.
Goretti is against having a strict “summer activity” routine. “If I give the impression that something is part of a routine, then the kids are going to pester me if it doesn’t happen when it’s due.” The trick, she says, is to maintain a degree of inconsistency. For instance, Goretti shows them a movie (a Disney DVD) sometimes once a week and sometimes once every fortnight. Zeke and Zene know that movies are not part of a weekly holiday schedule so they don’t fuss if they aren’t shown one.
Another tip: “Have a bunch of good girlfriends with kids the same age as yours. It makes life much easier.”
World Art workshop
Children are taught various styles of art such as Madhubani and puppetry. They will also be briefly introduced to the works of painters such as Van Gogh.
When: 30 April-30 May
Age group: 2-8
Charges: Rs150 per class
Where: Worli Sea Face, Mumbai
Ravinder and Jasmeet Kaur of Yogazoo conduct classes for children. One-hour classes are held once a week. Younger children are taught more play-oriented exercises, while older children have a stricter routine.
When: Mondays and Tuesdays in Lokhandwala and Wednesdays and Thursdays in Bandra.
Age group: 2-14 (two groups—2-6 years and 7-14 years)
Charges: Rs1,200 per month
Where: Lokhandwala and Bandra, Mumbai
Roma Shah takes one-on-one piano classes and children are introduced to music notes, familiar tunes and songs. The sessions are once a week and for one hour each.
When: Flexible timings
Age group: 7 upwards
Charges: Rs300 per session
Where: Napean Sea Road, Mumbai
SUMMER ACTIVITY CLUBS AND CAMPS IN MUMBAI
The Indian franchise of Children’s Technology Workshop is conducting its first astronomy programme in India. The programme contains two components, ‘Flight and Rocketry’ and ‘Ace of Space’. ‘Flight and Rocketry’ teaches them the theory about rockets and ‘Ace of Space’ teaches children about the stars, astro photography and how to make a telescope.
When: Until 4 June; Monday-Friday
Age group: 9-14
Charges: Rs3,500 for a 15-hour session, Rs6,500 for a 30-hour session
Where: Prarthana Samaj, Vile Parle; Thakur Institute of Aviation Technology, Kandivali
The tour involves staying in Solang Nallah village, trekking deep into the valley to the campsite at Dhundi for a two-night stay on the banks of the Beas. Snow-trek to the source of Beas—Beas Kund. Other activities include rappelling, river crossing and skiing.
When: 17-25 May
Age group: 10-15
Where: Solang, Himachal Pradesh
A five-session workshop on how to make scrapbooks, door hangers, photo frames and collages. The workshop will be conducted by Kreating Keepsakes, a studio dedicated to custom-making photo albums and scrapbooks.
When: Flexible timings; 1 hour, twice a week
Age group: 4 upwards
Tots N Teens Dance Academy teaches children the basics of dance and then goes on to teach them freestyle, hip hop, salsa, tango and cha-cha.
When: You can choose between regular, weekend and vacation batches.
Age: 5 upwards
Charges: Rs1,200 onwards
Where: Jer Baug, Byculla East
Summertime with Prithvi
Prithvi Theatre conducts several workshops through the summer for children. These range from playing with clay to acting classes.
When: Until 6 June
Age group: 6-16
Charges: Fees range from Rs1,500-2,500
Where: Prithvi Theatre (Juhu); Akshara High School (Kandivali West), Shishuvan School (Matunga)
Wild Brats Nature camp
This is a residential camp for children organized by the Bombay Natural History Society. Children learn about forests, wildlife and conservation through activities and games.
When: 1-3 May
Where: Conservation Education Centre, Goregaon East
The institute is dedicated to handwriting and calligraphy classes, so children can pick class days and timings as per their convenience. The institute teaches two levels of calligraphy and each level requires 15 one-hour sessions.
Age group: 7 upwards
Where: Rushabh Apartments, Andheri (West)
Children can learn French in 10-day workshops where they will be introduced to French grammar and basic conversation.
When: 2-12 May
Age group: 8 upwards
Where: Mumbai Central East
Children can either go to the institute for guitar classes or avail of Kalamandir’s home-tuition facilities. The classes are held on Saturdays and Sundays for 1 hour each.
Age group: 10 upwards
Charges: Rs1,500 per month
Where: Andheri (West)