Learning to chill, cooking up a storm
We went from booking 6-night-7-day-5-stop packages, to finally learning to chill. There are now long-weekend escapes to Jordan with friends, getaways to Croatia and food trips to Japan.Updated: Dec 29, 2019, 23:53 IST
For anyone looking back at how we travelled, the decade won’t be a postcard or framed photo, it will be an Instagram post. We travelled abroad a lot. India Tourism records show that international departures stood at 12.9 million in 2010. They jumped to 26.3 million in 2019.
We went from booking 6-night-7-day-5-stop Europe or South-East Asia packages with Indian meals, to finally learning to chill. There are long-weekend escapes to Jordan with friends, getaways to Croatia, food trips to Japan, shopping holidays in Spain, even travelling for a match, race or gig. We’re bypassing the tour operator more than ever, relying on AirBnB, Uber, Yelp and Google Translate instead.
“This is a generation that prefers to invest in intangible memories rather than objects,” says Shannon Fernandes, co-founder of Vagabond Experiences, a six-year-old company that organises local and international activity-themed trips. “There’s the belief that one’s daily life is not fulfilling enough, travel is the getaway to find the answers, the self, the truth.” This is also the decade when travel became performance art: we shared pinch-the-sunset shots on WhatsApp, we pored over packing tips on YouTube, we posted mid-dive slo-mo Boomerangs on Instagram and added 450 unsorted photos into the MyHolidayPix folder on Google Drive for friends and family.
Domestic travel increased too. “About 70% of our tours comprise women who have made solo bookings, joining strangers on a trip,” says Fernandes. “They trust word-of-mouth more than an online safety rating.” For many, it’s the first step to making future trips on their own. And just about everyone wants to be a travel blogger.
If India’s first decade of the century was about gourmet pizza, al dente pasta, New Zealand lamb chops and salmon something-something, the 2010s put out a wider buffet.
Parsi restaurants blossomed. Asian menus had less hakka-schezwan and more dim sum, baos, ramen and sushi. We deconstructed vada pao and pao bhaji for a bit. We abandoned sizzling brownies for liquid nitrogen ice-cream at weddings. This was the decade in which high-quality baking (breads and cakes) was available outside of a hotel. Cupcakes and macarons became new favourites. Cake shops became hangout places. We ordered cronuts with our freakshakes because we saw it on Instagram. We’re still not over red-velvet pastries.
Across the world, if you were hip, you tried clean eating. This meant anything from giving up gluten, becoming vegan, going organic, ordering smoothies, drinking almond milk, chugging kombucha, cold-pressing, cutting out sugar, going paleo, fasting intermittently and/or faking a love for kale. You probably also tried fresh avocado for the first time this decade - on toast or in a guac.
Restaurants figured out that eating out was no longer just for the nuclear family, with Papa holding one menu and ordering for the table.There were Tinder dates, same-sex dates, single diners and start-up dudes who just wanted coffee refills at breakfast meetings. Office gangs splitting the happy hour bill between 22 people. Anyone with Zomato Gold quickly learned how to exploit meal deals.
Ordering in became easier, as delivery services sent over even single portions, so you could eat at your desk or as you binged Game of Thrones at home. It didn’t mean that people stopped dining out; it means we are cooking less often.
Beef was banned in Mumbai, which learned to make do with buffalo meat. In the West, Asian and ethnic cuisines got sophisticated. It wasn’t unusual to make reservations three months in advance, d fly to a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain, Thailand or Denmark. Did Indian food finally make a splash abroad? Indian restaurants in India still do not make it to global lists of best restaurants. Those that earned Michelin stars in the US have lost them or dropped in ratings. Perhaps things will come to a boil in the coming decade.