Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Holidaying at Home

April 22, 2020, 9:00 AM IST  in The WriteClick |India | TOI


As a diligent husband, I’d planned the family holiday well in advance, for once, and applied for leave from15th April to 30th April 2020 with the destinations too zeroed down two months prior to the D-day. What was left was only the flight ticket. Ignoring the relentless reminder, I’d decided to do it in the ensuing weekend. Then came the news; of flight suspensions and national lockdown for 21 days. I was so near to creating a personal record of successfully planning a vacation well in advance, a task which I am regularly reminded, I am the only man left in the world yet to do that. I did cancel my leaves but not the family vacations.
A couple of years ago, I was, one evening returning from work with a sense of Male chauvinism all too imminent on the looks in my face, which was done on purpose, and throwing the booked tickets on the sofa next to where the home minister sat, I said, “Now who wants to go Goa next week with me. The fare is on offer, non-refundable though. But who cares right?” She suspiciously looked at me and took the tickets and in a minute threw back at me. The tickets had Goa to our place the next week and our place to Goa 2 weeks later. The to and fro destinations got interchanged. So, literally, we will have to book a ticket to Goa first in order to use the tickets I just booked. The fact that we went by train, which was another thrill altogether failed to amuse her when it comes to planning for vacations. She is excellent in doing these ‘holiday planning’ but insisted on my doing for reasons I suspected many. I dreaded that to the extreme. That was why I was trying so hard this year so that I could set the records straight and be done with it once and for all.
While ‘Mommy and the kids’ plan on many things for the vacation, I have just one thing- in fact two things; two books to immerse myself in, away from the stresses and dresses of office-works. Fast forward to present and I have finished 3 books and ‘Mommy and the kids’ have recorded plenty of songs, cooking videos and memorized many rhymes. What a better holiday than this? I said to myself. ‘You don’t get to go office while the leaves remained intact; spent time with the family for 21 days free of costs and no transportation and shopping expenses incurred, unlike any other vacations.’ But all these, only when the TV remains switched off.
Once the TV is turned on, the feelings of being on a vacation with family vanish in thin air, even as one develops a strange feeling of being some important personality put under house-arrest. The facts are too real to ignore and you suddenly realised for the first time that the outside world is full of negative things and depressive news; everything opposite to vacation vibes. And for once your loss in thoughts in the tiny confinement of the four walls of your room becomes a blessing you have so far never latched on to have been endowed with it.
Now that the lockdown gets extended for another 19 days, I do not have to worry about the financial expenses for flooding and lodging. But one concern does occur. How long is this going on? It is not the dislike for lockdown that is troubling me. On the contrary, I firmly believe that it is the best thing we have done so far in this fight against the disease. My concern is something else, one which displays our selfish human peculiarity; of devaluing the significance of anything in excess even if that means holidays. I am sure, on my first day of work I will be missing staying at home with family and devouring books but right now, this mind and body long for just one thing- the end of holidaying at home and the return of all things to normal even if that means me having to plan for the holidays all over again.

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