Raveena Tandon and husband Anil Thadani play board games with their children, spend time at the zoo or museum on family vacations and prefer that they swim, cycle or read rather than watch TV.
Let’s go back in time to when you were a child…
(Smiles) Ah, the good old days when you could enjoy the first monsoon showers without your parents worrying that you’d catch a chill. When the hours after school were spent playing cricket with friends…. We also played desi games like saapi, langdi and kabbadi that seem to have disappeared today. We lived in a bungalow that was right on the beach. The other day, my four-year-old son Ranbir went for a picnic to Juhu Beach with his class. After the picnic wrapped up around 9.30 am, he and I walked down to my dad’s (director Ravi Tandon) house. On the way we collected shells and raced down the sand.
Do your children enjoy outdoor sports?
They like cycling and swimming. My seven-year-old daughter Rasha plays football in school. She’s a tall, athletic girl and the sports teacher is waiting for her to grow a
little older before including her in the basketball team too. Both kids are learning Tae Kwon Do too. Rasha is already a green belt.
How many hours of TV do they watch in a day?
Not much during the weekdays as they are busy with school and friends. Play dates usually mean drawing sessions. Rasha won a medal for ‘Artist of the Week’.
Sometimes, if my mother-in-law is watching a talent show on TV, Rasha who is learning Kathak, may cuddle up with her before her 9 pm bedtime. But she’s not much of a TV buff.I strongly believe that couples shouldn’t have a TV in their bedrooms. Children also lose interest in interacting with family members if there is a TV playing. I know it keeps them occupied but I’d rather we involve them in more stimulating activities. Anil (distributor husband Anil Thadani) and I often play board games like Monopoly, Scrabble and IQ House with our kids.
You manage to keep even Ranbir away from TV?
(Laughs) I try but he’s hooked on Chhota Bheem and imagines himself to be Bheem. A friend gifted him a set of arms and armour for his birthday and these days he marches around the house with his shield, swords and gada. My chauffeur, Yadavji, who is like a surrogate grandfather, plays either Krishna or Balram. I’m the good monster, there’s a bad monster too who has to be slayed in an action sequence.
Where do you go on vacations?
When I was a child, every May and October was spent in Kashmir on dad’s shoots. I wish I could take my kids to Gulmarg and Pahalgam, live with them in a houseboat on the Dal Lake, but it’s safer to go to Switzerland now. I’ve taken them to Sentosa Park in Singapore and last Christmas we were at the Disney World in Hong Kong. This March, I plan to visit the Atlantis Water Park in Dubai. Last year, we were in Germany and spent a day in the zoo. It’s one of the largest in the world. Rasha was fascinated by the Berlin museum that has one of the best Egyptian artefact collections. After seeing the pyramids and mummies she wants to go to Egypt. We’re waiting for Ranbir to grow up.
Have they been to Mumbai zoo?
Yeah, on a school excursion. And they’ve also been to Nehru Planetarium and the Aquarium. The other day when I was explaining the solar system to them, I realised another trip to the Planetarium was overdue.
Do they believe in Santa Claus and his gift laden stockings?
Yes. Last year, Ranbir got a car racing game and Rasha Princess heels, wand and crown. She wanted an iphone but the tooth fairy was broke. So I suggested that she earn and buy one for herself. Rasha cleaned out cupboards, dusted the living room, cleared her book shelves and the money from these odd jobs went into her piggy bank. I was proud to see my little girl forgo play dates with friends to help around the house. She was very patient and eventually she was able to buy her iphone that we let her hold on Saturdays and Sundays. I remember that my brother and I would wash our cars every Sunday and dad would give us Rs 10 for each car. It’s important to instill little morals in your child and teach them about values through fables. TV is good but these little lessons are even better.
Any parks you frequent?
Unfortunately, the few parks that we had have made way for malls that I can’t visit since I am a known face. The few that remain are in a deplorable state and our children would need to be sanitized after a visit there. There’s a Dogs and Children Park on Carter Road that we frequent but most evenings I take them to the Otter’s Club. They go swimming, race around the pool or read in the library and suddenly, I’m back to my childhood days.
City parks you can take your kids to:
Victoria Garden, Byculla: Also known as the Jijamata Udyan, this nature park also hosts the Mumbai zoo. It is easily accessible as it’s close to the Byculla railway station.
Hanging Garden and Kamla Nehru Park, malabar hill: This garden with its animal shaped trees is a popular venue for school excursions.
Rao Saheb Patwardhan park, bandra: This park gives some much-needed green cover to this busy street. The park has two playing areas for kids, a walker’s track, a ‘ladies only’ section and a central ground with freshly mowed grass.
Heritage Gardens, Powai: The playing areas are designed for specially-abled kids, who can enjoy their time here. Kids in wheelchairs can also use the swings at this park, a rarity in this city.
Balodyan Garden, Charni road: This is an only women and children park.
Priyadarshini Park, Bhulabhai desai road: A favourite with the SoBo crowd, this huge sea-facing jogger’s park draws both the old and the young.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, borivli: A huge Nature park and forest reserve, you can spot many species of flora and fauna here, including a few tigers.
Sagar Upvan Botanical Garden, colaba: A refreshingly green garden in the middle of a concrete jungle.
Chota Kashmir, Aarey mild colony: You can take your children boating here and pretend you are on the Dal Lake.
Bandra Joggers Park: A nice jogging track with a garden and, it’s been imporatlised in the movie, Jogger’s Park.