"Aap kahin ja rahe ho?” asked my neighbour, stopping me in my tracks as I sprinted down the staircase. As tempted as I was, to say ‘no, it’s just my hobby to go up and down the stairs carrying my bag,’ I controlled myself and replied, ‘Yes, to work.’ “No, not that. Are you going somewhere out-of-station during summer vacations?” she clarified. When I shook my head, she gave me that look. “Haww… your daughter’s school will reopen soon and you are not taking her anywhere on a holiday?” Now that surely made me feel like a horrible parent. What if my daughter is the only one in her class who didn’t go anywhere during the summer break? What if she’ll hold it against me forever?
I came back home that evening, laden with travel brochures promising all kinds of tours — Europe to US, Kerala to Shimla. But then, it struck me that we had decided to skip a vacation this time for genuine reasons — one simply being that we had been on a brief holiday just before the summer breaks began. Anyhow, the usual expectation that all those with school going children must go somewhere for a holiday during summers, stresses me out. Are you too, facing the same problem?
The other day, I heard a friend who’s a busy vice president of a multinational company crib that life’s hell at home because of the pressure to holiday somewhere ‘exotic’ before the school re-opens. So he has booked tickets for his wife and kids to visit Turkey while he shall join them on the last two days and bring them back. Now what kind of a holiday is that? I wanted to tell him that rather than treating a fancy holiday as a formality, it’ll be more memorable if he took the family to a weekend resort near Delhi. After all, aren’t holidays about togetherness and enjoying each other’s company? Perhaps not, I found out. “The destination is a big prestige indicator,” he explained. His teenaged son, studying at a richie-rich school, couldn’t possibly cite Nainital as his holiday destination while classmates rattled off about the snow peaked Swiss alps. And then, there are my page-3 friends who can’t be caught dead in Delhi during this month — even if that means air-kissing the same people on the London streets that they’ve grown old air-kissing in Delhi parties.
Anyhow, I’ve decided I won’t give myself grief about not going anywhere on a holiday. I just don’t like holidaying in peak season anyway — destinations are too crowded, the sifarish junkies dont spare even the PM’s office for flight/rail ticket quotas, hotels want to ‘politely’ throw you out a minute after check-out time, cabbies over-charge like there’s no tomorrow, even highways dhaabas put water in the gravy to cater to endless hungry souls. I’d much rather go somewhere once the break gets over.
Come to look at it, the purpose is to take a break from the hum-drum of life. If your mind’s not at peace, a swish holiday in Paris is as much a waste as huffing and puffing on Shimla’s mall road, which, by the way, resembles ‘Karol Bagh in ten degrees less’, these days. Chilling out at home, with activities that my daughter enjoys is what I’ve decided to do. Somehow I’m sure she’ll not hold it against me when she grows up.
Sonal Kalra is secretly trying hard for flight and hotel bookings for Europe. The travel agent says all affordable packages are sold out. Do you know of any good deals? Time’s running out. Send your calmness tricks to her at firstname.lastname@example.org .