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Homeward bound

Holidays are not about family gatherings anymore, they are now confined to weekend getaways.
By Aruna Rathod | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 10, 2008 07:55 PM IST

When was the last time you heard of a family heading for their hometown during vacation? It must have been during your childhood.

In those times, perhaps because of the lack of options we would land at our family homes every summer.

"I remember the long walks with grandpa through the woods, climbing hills, gorging on mangoes and swimming in the river," says Jayesh M, marketing professional, whose hometown Ratnagiri is famous for its beaches and mangoes.

"It's sad that I can't offer the same to my child as there is no family left in the village now.

"We have to resort to weekend trips at hotels. My son has missed out on the village experience - the food cooked in earthen pots, the smell of firewood and the boiled red rice," he sighs.

Best of both
For most of us holiday options are now confined to weekend getaways at resorts or squeezed-in trips like fivenight-four day-stays designed by travel agencies.

Renuka Thomas, an entrepreneur, however, has the best of both the worlds. "I visit my mom in Kerala at least twice a year. This way my kids get to know about our roots and they also get a feel of small town life. We also have annual trips to foreign locations," she says.

Real experience
Weddings and family functions were also an occasion to bond. "We would meet distant relatives and celebrate the occasion. As kids we used to love all the fan fare, the food, the naach-gaana," says Jayesh.

But in nuclear families with working couples who have a comfortable income at their disposal, holiday packages are the preferred option.

"We are aiming at families who can spend over Rs 25,000 for a weekend and we provide the best atmosphere, food and facilities," says the marketing manager of a five-star hotel chain. "During the summers we give the best deals to Indians because it's the vacation season," he adds.

So for those with high incomes, Rs 25,000 is not much of a price for a five-star experience and of course, it adds to the status.

But there are some families who still manage to make the annual visit back home. "I book tickets three months in advance to go to my hometown, Udupi," says Ananthraman, a chartered accountant, adding, "I don't get a long leave so I drop my wife and kids at my parents home and then pick them up after three weeks. I think this is the real experience. It's much better than enrolling your kids in summer camps."

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