Posted on December 10, 2013
We took Kavya on her first visit to California when she was a couple months old, to Hawaii when she was under 2, and she’s always adapted to the local time pretty quickly. She sees sunlight and is down to just go with it. But time is usually on our side. Our visits being at least a few weeks long with some down time before she has to get back to a world of tedious routine.
This time we went to California to go on a family trip to Disneyland over thanksgiving for just a little over a week. My birthday was the day before we returned, so as soon as we arrived home in the morning, Sona had a full day of work at The Bump, I had a creative writing class to teach, and Kavya had a full day at school. It was the first time I felt absolutely knackered.
Travel played a significant part in my childhood, and I’ve always considered jet lag a non-issue, an unsexy part of travel that you just have to deal with. Like filling your car with petrol, or buying a metro ticket. My parents’ strategy in dealing with it was to quickly adapt to local time, which is a much easier thing to do when you’re living in a place and have weeks to acclimate.
When we’d travel from England to Africa, or Dubai to India, even our holidays were month long affairs, with plenty of time to get used to things. In the U.S. Navy, where I served for eight years, we were expected to be functional for a full working day, sometimes right after a long flight or getting off a cramped submarine or ship.
And no matter what level of mayhem went down in the evenings, you had to be dressed and present for muster at 7 in the morning. Growing up and throughout my 20s, jet lag was never something I put any thought into. Now, everything is about strategizing, and ways to get things sorted. This trip, I tried exerting my authority as Papa onto Kavya, who is now 3, by sternly telling her, “I forbid you from getting jet lagged,” but it hasn’t worked out as well as I’d hoped.
Normally, we have at least a day to get back to routine, but it was my birthday, so we decided to take an extra vacation day and deal with the consequences when we got back. The strategy we attempted to employ to ease Kavya back to the mundane world of routine when we returned from the Thanksgiving Disneyland Trip, was to keep her on New York time.
This whole jet lag strategy went up in smoke almost the second we arrived at my parents’ place. By any rationale, Kavya should have been tired and ready for bed. It was 11pm in California and 2am in New York. And Kavya was running about like a fully charged electronic toy.
Sona loves calculating time differences and giving running commentary before the jet lag commences. It’s like she’s live tweeting the jet lag. Once she tried to gyp me out of a hot, aloo paratha breakfast our first morning in India because it was 11pm in New York. That was the only time I questioned my marriage vows. Aloo paratha is a very sacred thing. I mean, as are my marriage vows. All three of them.
My Mum made me a cup of herbal tea from fresh peppermint she’s got growing in the back garden, out of an oven that stopped working. Kavya starts prancing about, first with the tauntingly titled game called, “you can’t catch me,” then demonstrated a series of yoga poses on the carpet for daadi-ma that she’ been learning in her yoga class at school. One of them is rooted in traditional Indian mysticism called the table. Another is the bridge, under which a troll lives.
The next morning, Kavya wakes up at 6:30 and demands to know why everyone else is sleeping and being “lazy bones.” She jumps around on the trampoline in the back garden and runs through the yard all day, barely pausing, so by 6pm she is out cold, which is 9pm New York Time I quickly calculate. Operation Jetlag is going splendidly.
She wakes up at 5:30 am the morning after that. In the evening, my sister and her children come over and everything goes to hell. Since they’re close in age, they start yapping it up, playing all day, and at night they lie in bed together, having one giant slumber party, where nobody goes to sleep until there’s been a lot of drama with accusations of pushing, not listening, the improper telling of a story, and other such matters of great import.
Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you just have to chill out and let jet lag do it’s thing. It’s a saying. Look it up.
What are your strategies for dealing with jet lag on short trips versus longer ones?