The summer holidays have started on a depressing note for me and my family. Besides Delhi facing one of the worst heatwaves, our annual plan of going out of town has gone for a toss. For us, the attraction of this vacation time has always been one long and one short trip.
But the recent spate of deaths of vacationers in travel-related accidents in the past one month has left us numb and dampened our spirits. We haven’t even decided where to go, as the mode of travel has become a big concern.
Should we travel by air (suppose the aircraft overshoots the runway), train (suppose someone removes the fishplates), bus (suppose it touches an overhead electric wire) or by car (suppose it misses a turn and falls into a gorge)?
While for us adults the discussion revolves around who tampered with the rail tracks or whether the pilots of our national carrier are competent enough have become some important dinner table topics, the young adults are finding it difficult to come to terms with the TV shot of a rescuer carrying the body of a young girl from the mangled remains of an aircraft and the picture of the twin sisters who died in each other’s arms on their first-ever train ride.
While the head of our family has always suffered from aviophobia, the juniors are now showing signs of hodophobia and siderodromophobia.
Getting philosophical and talking about destiny hasn’t helped much. In fact, it has made things worse, as the kids have started connecting all their misdeeds — from breaking the expensive wedgewood and porcelain dolls to beating up the neighbour’s kid during a football match — to destiny. While the rest of the family is suffering from some travel-related phobias or the other, the thought of having everybody at home for the whole vacation is making me develop some kind of phobia — I am not sure what it is as the dictionary does not have a word for it.
The blame game for the accidents is on at all levels. While Mamata Banerjee is targeting Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the civil aviation ministry is passing the buck on to the dead pilots.
Only I don’t know who to blame for ruining my family’s holiday spirit — destiny, perhaps.