Bringing home the holidays

Bijoy Venugopal
vacation duirng covid 19, world coronovirus outbreak, coronavirus death, coronavirus travel, travel during travel, indian express news

WhatsApp groups are in overdrive dispensing advice on how to make the most of our confinement. (Source: Getty Images)

I wish I were marooned on a balmy tropical island when this cataclysmic event befell us. But wishes are horses, and mine are stabled in a two-bedroom flat in a Bengaluru suburb. In February, I was staring at amid summer vacation and making furious plans, zig-zag-ging indecisively between the Seychelles, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. I spent hours on Skyscanner, Tripadvisor and Airbnb. My wife and I redecorated the house in anticipation of the daughter’s homecoming from boarding school. We booked tickets to attend a slew of April weddings in the family and planned out the whole summer, every long weekend and holiday pencilled into the calendar.

Suddenly, it looks like it’s going to be a long vacation from vacations. WhatsApp groups are in overdrive dispensing advice on how to make the most of our confinement. These prescriptive conversations are driven by parents galvanised by the terror of having the children home early and, in all likelihood, indefinitely. It’s been only two weeks of isolation and we’re running out of ideas and patience. And, the time spent together, the quantity of which we usually have so little, is all we seem to have.

Work-from-home was supposed to make things easy, but the boundaries between work and life have blurred, and most alibis don’t sell (how many bathroom breaks can you take?). Sure, you miss the coffee machine and the pantry snacks. Having to prove you’re working takes the zing out of playing hooky. A friend confessed today that he attends conference calls on mute and spends all day practising the guitar. He only jumps in at the mention of his name and picks up where he left off.

How many more days of this? If statistics and projections are anything to go by, it’s going to be a while. What if the travel lockdown lasts a year, maybe two?

Chin up, because who knew there could what she’d missed. That got us to relate the stories behind the pictures and videos. We started to dig deeper. Was there a souvenir in the house that we associated with a trip? Maybe folk dance, or a song or movie? An earworm that refused to go away? Maybe, it was a book we were reading then or unforgettable phrases from conversations with people we had met.

Out came more keepsakes that the wife has forever accused me of hoarding. Maps and tickets tubs and museum brochures. A small stash off fragrant frankincense from a souq in southern Oman. A strand of dry seaweed from a Maldivian beach.A deskside pencil from a haunted hotel in Ottawa. A fridge studded with magnets from everywhere we had not even been. Our home is a veritable scrapbook of travel memories.

I rummaged through my travel treasure chest and produced my coin collection. Currency notes, still smelling of foreign lands be so much blue in a Marchsky? The more-and foreign hands enriched our stories. We laughed over how we had been millionaires for a week in Indonesia, rich with rupiahs.

Andhowcouldweforget food and drink? The bar cabinet has Singapore Sling, Seychelles Takamaka rum, and Alpenbitter from Switzerland. On our grocery shelf,teas from Sri Lanka and coffee from Bali sit alongside pastes and mixes, spices and masalas from around the world. Dinner plans have become really exciting.

In the course of hectic brainstorming, we realised we had discovered the secret of time travel. It meant that we could go forward in time,too. We could travel to destinations we had always wanted to go. Virtual museum trips, imagined evening walks
with Google Street Maps, and diving into Instagram feeds of marooned travel photographers who now have all the time in the
the world for post-processing.

This is going to be a vacation like no other.