Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Vacation Ritual


picture courtesy -  kulverablog.net

We all need a break from being busy. So, we take vacations. Where we get even busier and return exhausted. If I have travelled thousands of miles, braved airline food, wailing babies and co-passengers with smelly feet, I might as well squeeze in as many activities as I can till I am ready to drop dead. Your vacation is futile till you can’t tell Babli – your neighbour who bragged non-stop about her heavenly stay in a 5-star resort in Krabi – that you also did paragliding, swam with dolphins, fought off a shark and discovered a hidden island. That should see her turn green as fungus.

A vacation has four stages – when, where, I can’t believe I am here, and phew I’m so glad to be home.

When

Deciding when to take a break is governed by a lot of factors. If you have school and college going kids who are still not embarrassed to be seen with their parents, you plan your getaway to coincide with their holidays. But only after they have attended summer camps designed to turn them into moon-walking, karate-chopping Einsteins and coaching classes for entrance exams to courses they have no interest in.

But if you are foot-loose and fancy-free, you wait for the symptoms to show up. These include restlessness, driving your colleagues insane with ‘I could so do with a break’ whining and extreme envy as you browse through the 692 pics that your ‘just-returned-from-Leh’ friend has posted on Facebook.

Where

This is usually dictated by ‘10 places you must visit before you die of boredom’ listicles that you love reading while pretending to work at office. Alongside vacation pictures shared on FB or Instagram by friends you’ve never met. And a long hard look at your bank balance and all the outstanding bills you have piled on your table. Gone are those days when people could throw darts on the world atlas to decide their next holiday. The passionately patriotic Indian these days keenly follows prime ministerial itineraries to draw inspiration for new destinations.

And nations oblige. Mongolia, flummoxed by the influx of eager Indian tourists, is all set to start a chain of Jain vegetarian restaurants in their country. A Swiss escape to Mount Titlis with pics of Sonali Bendre and Aishwarya Rai in their restaurants is so out of date.

The preparation phase of a vacation is exciting. It takes considerable creativity to imagine everything that might go wrong while travelling (snowfall in summer, loosies on board, sudden craving for theplas in Heidelberg) before deciding what to stuff in your suitcases. Many women spend days cleaning and polishing windowpanes and scrubbing their bathrooms clean before she heads out, so that she can come back to a considerably less dirty house after her sojourn in distant lands.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Finally, The Writing is No Longer Clear on the Wall

As a young girl I yearned to wear glasses. Perhaps I thought it would lend gravitas to my ten year old frame. Unfortunately for me, I had no fairy godmother who could wave her magic wand and make my eyesight weak. So, I had no choice but to be self-reliant. First I had to convince myself and then my parents that the writing on the wall was far from clear till I didn’t get to wear spectacles. I’m not sure how genuine my headaches were. But every time I’d open a textbook, especially Math, I’d be seized with a debilitating headache. It took a considerable number of re-enactments, each with increasing intensity to convince my parents to take me to the doctor. The doctor only too happy to treat a phantom ailment sent me for X-Rays and check-ups with fancy names. I had the unique distinction of going for medical check-ups with a spring in my step, a song in my heart, only to return home crestfallen when the reports said everything was more than okay. I would curse my normal eyesight and console my nose-bridge that her specmate was gracing the wall of some store, waiting to unite with her and vindicate her lonely existence.

I can’t quite recollect what came first. My headaches that gave up on me after many failed attempts to convince the world that my eyesight was as weak as my math. Or me resigning myself to my 20x20 vision that would be the first one to read bus numbers while waiting at the stop. All I know is, when I landed my first job that required me to work long hours on the computer, I promptly got myself a stylish pair claiming to be anti-glare glasses. My younger brother didn’t waste much time in losing them while trying to impress girlkind at large with his newly borrowed intellectual look and I never found out if my anti-glares were as good as its claims.

But one thing was clear, I could now blame my genes for this innate need to impress others with intellect without uttering a single word while peering solemnly from behind the glasses.

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