As India has changed, the way India travels has changed too. See how we did things then, and what happens now instead. Bon voyage!
Then: Waiting for a gift from that one relative abroad. Usually cheap tat, which you’d keep in the showcase.
Now: One fridge magnet from every place you visit. Europe makes nice ones. But they’re Made In China.
Then: Two months in your native place, you nap every day, the kids climb trees, grandpa is happy, everyone gets a tan.
Now: Six-night-seven-day group tour of the foreign destination of the moment. English-speaking guide. Adventure activities. Indian food.
Then: Quick multiplication tables in your head when you saw the prices of anything abroad.
Now: There’s an app for that, plus you can use your international credit card.
Then: Manali/Alibaug was lovely, let’s go back.
Now: Pick one international destination. Visit. Tick off list. Start with another place.
Then: Budget travel meant picking a place where an NRI relative had a house and spare bed.
Now: Backpacking, youth hostels, Air BnB, Couchsurfing and yes, the NRI relative’s house too.
Then: Two-page school essay in June on How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
Now: Live, unwanted updates on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on How I Am Spending My Summer Vacation.
Then: Nashik = Sai Baba.
Now: Nashik = Sulafest.
Then: Guidebooks, huge maps you could never fold back the same way.
Now: Internet listicles, and GPS.
Then: Let’s not go where we will not like the food.
Now: Veg options practically everywhere, Indian restaurants abound.
Then: Same kindly neighbourhood cabbie took you to the airport.
Now: Ola cabs booked and ready. Driver Samir is on his way.
Then: Modest State Tourism resorts, with “bed tea”. What? Hot water in the morning only?
Now:Four-star plush resorts with buffet breakfast. What? No bathtub in every room?
Then: Mr Sharma went to Bali, so we must go too.
Now: Let’s go to Croatia. No one I know has been.
Then: Tour operator lists six sights in this place. We see all six and come back.
Now: Customised food tours, nature trails, heritage walks, music festivals and shopping holidays.
Then: Airline tickets look like chequebooks.
Now: Web check-in.
Then: Does the hotel room have a TV?
Now: Does it also have free WiFi, and enough plug points for phone charger?
Then: Collecting postcards.
Now: Collecting air miles.
Then: Trunks, one big ugly suitcase, rolled up green bisterbunds.
Now: Hardtop coordinated check-in and carry-on luggage that conforms to airline standards and has the US-wala TSA lock.
Then: Being able to disconnect on holiday.
Now: If you have a smartphone, no chance!
Then: Requesting the kindly local or fellow tourist to take one family photo of all of you.
Now: Selfie stick, panorama mode, multiple shots and smile-finder on your cellphone.
Then: Wish I could be on holiday forever.
Now: I want to be a travel writer.
From HT Brunch, March 22
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