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Distant dreams

Dreams of distant hill refuges play a calming effect on fraught nerves...

india Updated: Nov 02, 2005 15:23 IST

I am what is best described as an armchair traveller. A paucity of funds mean that I can hardly buy myself a decent travel guide, leave alone a full-fledged travel itinerary. Yet like most parched souls in the scorching summer months and beyond, the dreams of distant hill refuges play a calming effect on fraught nerves.

So I sit with a worn out and tattered guidebook and surround myself with broad sheets of travel supplements brought out by the newspapers. While glancing longingly at advertisements and frowning at their prices I can come to the most obvious conclusion, so obvious in fact that I need not even mention it. Though my editor says that one does not need money to travel and admittedly I find that to be hugely encouraging. But for the moment as matters stand a journey out of town is but a dream.

Others are, thankfully not so unfortunate. And before this piece begins to take the shape of a personal grievance at it all there lies the silver lining — in the shape of the aforementioned advertisements. One might not notice it in a single week but with the passage of time the mind becomes sharper and one recognises that most of the photographs in these ads are morphed. How otherwise would the same shot of the same hotel from the same angle have, on one week, the image of a lofty mountain right behind it and on another, a cheerfully shimmering lake, or rolling plains. It used to baffle me, now no more.

But that is not all the entertainment that these ads provide. Consider this: “Hurry rush now!”. The offer on hotel rates states the price of Rs 15,000 valid till November 15. Surely then it must be a special reduced price offer? Well it ain’t! For those in the know-how prices are slashed up to a third after this ‘offer’ period. A neat trick, but has takers nevertheless.

Then there is the case of the routine ‘bonanza’ offers. Higher than usual prices, the same facilities as before and a ‘Dusshera bonanza’. So what is the bonanza all about? Ask that to the manager and you know the answer: it’s a bonanza for them not us.

The matter does not lose steam even beyond that. One classified had this special offer for parents: “Pay for one child, get one child free”. How generous! If that doesn’t put a dampener to one’s carefully laid travel plans nothing will. Or perhaps I am wrong.

Stop beside the highway for some chilled beer to wash off the accumulated grime of a long journey and what welcome you for a respite might be too much to handle for many. The board above says ‘Child Bear’... and I thought it was a shop selling liquor.

I am led to wonder now if it is better to stay indoors away from these misappropriations. The adventurous mind will only dictate that somewhere beyond fake claims, mistaken spellings, and wrong grammar the beauty of a place is not determined by how it is described. Rather it is a personal experience that ultimately matters. And I must agree.