When the children were small, the top treat was to be allowed to tag along with me on my errands. I liked to take them one at a time – partly to avoid the inevitable squabbles more than one child in a car is a guarantee of and partly because I enjoyed the one-on-one time with each of them. (And also, why should Ravi get the house to himself???)

Now that they are all grown up and only Moy Moy is at home, we continue the tradition whenever we can.

Moy in her wheelchair, just come down the ramp, at the open door of the car

Here she is ready to be scooped up and helped into the front seat.

You can’t see it, but it was an easy move because we have a ramp from the door to the driveway.

Let me assure you: that’s the last ramp we are going to see until we return home an hour later.

I don’t like to do complain-y blogs, but believe me, an outing with a person in a wheelchair in Dehradun is  . . . oh, just use your imagination!

Or not. Just look at the photos of Moy’s Sunday outing.


Storefront for tailor shop - glass doors, eight marble steps leading in to the shop

First stop: Jassal Tailors in Panditwari. Mr Jassal is an old friend and there was a time when he used to make Moy Moy’s school uniforms.

It would have been fun for her to meet him again, but – well, have a look.

Can you see the white marble steps beyond the glass doors? Eight of them. Impossible.

So Moy Moy sat in the car and waited while I dashed in and gave Sardarji the pants I wanted to get altered. Lucky she doesn’t need a school uniform anymore.


Huge woodpile - no space to move except for one guy in blue filling a sack with logs Next stop – firewood!

I only recently discovered that one can buy actual logs in Dehradun. I’ve been making do with scrap wood I found being sold by a kabari wallah, along with old bottles, bits of plastic and other odds and ends. It was fun to buy it because his shop was such a beehive of purpose and endeavor, but the wood was full of nails and paint and strange chemical resins and fumes.

So I was thrilled to find this place, a bit further down Kanwali Road. And yes, there’s barely enough room for the guy who sells the stuff, but it would have been fun to bring Moy Moy inside. Not happening.


Errands, errands. Next I wanted to buy a small ball for Vijay and Lakshi. I’d found a piece of plastic pipe which I thought would make a great tunnel for them to play with – but a ball was required.

I’d seen this store a few days ago and thought they’d be sure to have just what I was looking for – and how nice it looked! – until I saw it with Moy Moy’s eyes.

Toystore shop front - five steps to climb to get in the door


Car on the side of the road, rag-picker girl with a sack going past


Once again, I raced in while Moy Moy sat and waited in the car. They didn’t have the ball anyway, but when I returned to the car, I was struck by the double exclusion I saw in front of me.

Moy Moy couldn’t get in because she can’t walk, and the little girl with the sack – who, just like us, had been out for firewood that morning – well, she couldn’t get in because she couldn’t get in.

Just like for Moy Moy, that wasn’t happening.

Why is that? Can anyone explain exclusion to me? Can anyone explain why we think the world works better when we leave so many people out, so casually, so brutally, so callously?

Tell me again

When I’ve been to the river

And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst

Tell me again

We’re alone and I’m listening

I’m listening so hard that it hurts.

Leonard Cohen

Bright red poinsettias forgeround, Himalayas, background


We decided to go to the Forest Research Institute to get a little perspective from the trees and the mountains and the flowers in-between.

That helped. You might even say it worked.

I mean, we’re used to this, right, Moy? This is nothing new. It happens every day and we can’t let it get to us, can we?

These flowers grow however they need to to get their light and water and air. Their stems are spindly and bent in all directions but they keep climbing, they keep growing. Nothing gets in their way.



View from the back of Moy's stroller, up a long vista on a forest road

We set out down the long road home, armed with the wisdom of the red flowers, the blue skyline, the young range of mountains still settling their seismic plates, still working out their ancient quarrels with the earth. This is an active earthquake zone.  You haven’t heard the last of us.

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