We expats live from vacation to vacation. At least we in Gulf do. Its hard work for 11 months battling adverse weather and one month of bliss catching up with family, friends, relaxing, absorbing the sounds and smell of India.
We begin planning quite in advance with the booking of tickets, then the haggling of vacation dates with the employer. With these two decisions made, the rest of the planning starts. Shopping for example. Shopping for gifts to take back home, shopping for self. Usually all the malls shops etc will start their ‘sale’ from April itself and we will be on the lookout for some good bargains. Then if you have a scattered family like mine plans have to be made as to whom to visit and whom to leave out on that particular visit and domestic travel planned. Plans!! plans!!
On the home front too there’s a lot to be planned. Foodstuff get spoiled quite fast here owing to the humid weather. So have to see that nothing is hoarded, the flour and the pulses have to be consumed before the travel. And as most of us will shut down the refrigerator, it has to be cleaned out. As drinking water is bought, have to see that the water bottles are emptied and dried. The furniture has to be covered with cloth as the upholstery really gets dusty owing to the carpet. Sometimes get so weary, by the time we get our boarding pass that just feel like dozing off in the waiting area provided the overhead sound system allow to sleep.
We usually travel first to Mangalore, it being my in-laws place. As a kid I used to love travelling to Mangalore as it had a certain old world charm with its tiled roof houses and lush greenery. In the rainy season it was just awesome, everywhere green and fresh and the smell of the soil was just wonderful. Nowadays there are only apartment blocks, tiled roof house are lost to the outskirts, trees are also being extinct, even the thick trunk trees lining the roads have been chopped off in the guise of road expansion. If its raining its alright otherwise the heat is really something. And power cuts don’t ask. But the charm of meeting family, catching up with all the news, attending the numerous family and temple functions and all the mouth watering food, That all thankfully still exists.
This time hopefully I will be visiting Ukkunagaram. That’s the place my parents reside with my brother and his family. Its the Visakhapatnam Steel plant township in coastal Andhra. Just few days are enough for me to relive childhood days as we used to live in Bhilai another steel township. Just a few days with family without any responsibilities and being pampered like a child again, feels good. Ukkunagaram being a township has a green belt. So can see some trees. Plus want to show my son the way I grew up. Let him run around the grass barefoot, see some cows, goat etc, all the things he misses here.
People talk about the thrill of zero gravity spots or bungee jumping. For me the prospect of open windows, an expanse of greenery through it and breathing in some fresh air is thrilling enough.