Tuesday, July 13, 2021

How To Do Revenge Travel Right During A Raging Pandemic

If you think the universe is conspiring against your holiday spirit, you’re absolutely right. But does that mean you deprive yourself of the thrill of plotting and planning your travels! Of course not. 

Image courtesy - Google 

Everyone’s ‘dying’ to go on a vacation. Why else would they land in Mussoorie in droves, pack themselves like Kumbh devotees at Kempty falls and harness their stupidity to turn a waterfall into a wave! Before you can choke on your nimboo paani and sputter in horror, the viral video has given anxiety pangs to all. 

This is just a few weeks after your eyes popped out and fell on the ground when you saw frightening visuals of a traffic pileup of holiday makers rushing off to Himachal like diarrhoea within hours of the lockdown being eased. 

There’s this much trauma your anxiety ridden heart can take. The poor thing has just started limping back towards normalcy post a traumatic second wave. Your steadfast notion, that memories of SOS calls for oxygens beds and overflowing cremation grounds will be enough to keep people in rein, has drowned itself in Beas. 

Of course you want to go on a vacation too but minus the dying part. Locking yourself at home to stay alive has been no fun especially when the weeks stretched into months and months stretched into an eternity. Your pre-Covid life from the last century along with the resident lizard that’s trying its best to come under your feet look at you mockingly. You are too bored to snarl at them as you float around aimlessly from one room to another in one of the many kaftans that you’ve bought online. They call it loungewear these days. 

But try as you might, you just can’t muster enough recklessness to head off to the hills to mingle with maskless warriors impatient to usher in the third wave!  

Too bad you are not a locust.  You could have munched your way through continents with swarms of your relatives, friends and boyfriends and laid eggs without a care in the world and a vaccine passport. Instead here you are laying on the bed and staring at the lizard that has now learnt to climb the walls. 

Look, we know you’ve been bookmarking properties in the hills that keep showing up in your Facebook feed. It gets difficult to control your eye twitch when you look at your friends’ vacation pics on Instagram. Just the other day your husband caught you bawling loudly and wiping your nose on your kaftan sleeve. 

Every time you doze off, that lovely property in Landour haunts your dreams. Your eyes glaze over when you fantasise about sitting on the balcony overlooking the misty mountains, sipping adrak chai that the caretaker has made. The bliss of doing nothing in the hills trumps over doing nothing in your apartment anyday.

We get it, things are getting unbearable and you feel like a caged hyena in a zoo. You’ve often mulled over running off to a remote village tucked away in the Himalayas. But didn’t you just read about a friend’s ordeal who got stuck in their quaint cottage for weeks because of a landslide and had to survive on shoots, leaves and insects in their dirty underwear! 

If you think the universe is conspiring against your holiday spirit, you’re absolutely right. But does that mean you deprive yourself of the thrill of plotting and planning your travels! Of course not. 

What if we tell you can still go on a vacation without risking RIP and a wonky WiFi! Sounds too good to be true, right!  Here’s what you can do.  Remember how you pile your shopping cart with expensive AF dresses and then abandon it? You can do the same with booking rentals at exotic locations. 

How about the beautiful cottage on stilts in the middle of the lake...May we suggest the 2 bedroom hammock in the lush forests that has no motorable roads? You can spend a few blissful days making a spreadsheet of dozens of properties. Then you can waste enough time reading reviews, watching vlogs to narrow them down to the final five. Just make sure they all have easy cancellation policies.

If this doesn’t entice you enough, how about inviting yourself to your friend’s apartment on the 52nd floor! When you step out on the balcony after the third bottle of wine, you will feel on top of Nanda Devi and the screeching traffic will sound like chirping of birds. 

Or you could drive down to Delhi in rush hour and pretend you are stuck at a traffic snarl at Parwanoo. While you are at it, you can make calls to an imaginary hotel and tell them to keep soup ready because you won’t be able to make it by lunch. 

Haul your suitcases that have been collecting dust in the loft. Stuff them with your vacation wardrobe. Pack a bigger snack bag. Get into the car with your family and squabble endlessly about which music to play for the long drive. Don’t do laundry for weeks and then whine about the endless wash cycles, the vacation weight, and the plants your maid didn’t water properly while you were away.

Remember the journey is more important than the destination and planning is even more exciting than the vacation itself. 

Think like Nike. Just do it. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Cancelling Enid Blyton Will not Make Racism Go Away

The Cancel Culture Is Mostly Performative And Brings About No Real Change

Britain, a nation best known for its shameful imperial past and then conveniently forgetting they colonised over 200 nations, stripped them of their wealth, enslaved its people, made them fight their wars, now wants to cancel Enid Blyton to cleanse its heritage. I had to spend a large amount of my time counselling irony from climbing the Tower Of London to jump off it.  Sure, Blyton’s portrayal of black characters was problematic. They were depicted mostly as criminals. Sambo, the Little Black Doll, is hated because of his “ugly black face,” and doesn’t even have SRK and  Fair and Handsome  to come to his rescue! But I still couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at the  ‘cancel culturists’ and wonder about the kind of glasses they are wearing that prevents them from seeing Enid Blyton was a product of her times that valorised Winston Churchill. This is the same man who referred to Indians as beastly people with a beastly religion. Described Palestinians as barbaric hordes who are little but camel dung without a hint of shame. I’m sure Enid Blyton chose to be blissfully unaware that Churchill was no better than Hitler, both having masterminded a carnage as brutal in the name of white supremacy. 

So why just stop at demanding the removal of blue plaques for Enid Blyton and Rudyard Kipling, commemorating their historical significance! Cancel blue plaques for the entire nation that has yet to return Kohinoor to us and  left us with Victorian morals that deems almost all human desires as immoral and a stuffy bureaucracy that prides itself in red tapism. Though I still think their most unforgivable crime is plundering so many nations for their spices and still making shockingly bland food. 

I feel terrible for Ms Blyton. Imagine having to battle the guilt of dying five decades too early and not being able to apologise for being so unkind to black dolls! I am now having to revisit all my childhood memories that’s still stuck in The Enchanted Woods, idolising Nancy Drew and getting cheap thrills from Amelia Jane’s antics and expunge the black parts from it. Though I am not sure if my well meaning aunties who never missed a chance to tcch tcch about my dark skin during my growing up years and then look soulfully at my hopeless future were influenced by Enid Blyton’s evil machinations against the coloured lot.

Since political correctness demands I cancel her as an author of any merit, I am now trying my best to be pissed off with her. I am so mad at her for instilling a deep desire in me to look for kind old men who looked like Mr Pink Whistle, whose only mission in life was to help children in distress but not before plying them with lemonade and other goodies.  How dare she give us Moonface in The Magic Faraway tree who stuffed his mouth with big chunky toffees and was then unable to say anything but ‘ooble ooble ooble! My molars still haven’t forgiven me  for plying them with half a dozen toffees and then trying to have an intelligent conversation with my creaky ceiling fan!!

She really had no business giving wings to our imagination and making us look forward to the library period in school so that we could borrow some more books of hers  and take flight from our dreary middle class upbringing. 

Image courtesy- Google 

As a children’ writer who primarily wrote for white kids, had she educated them on racism and xenophobia along with English values, we wouldn’t have to put up with generations of racists who think it's perfectly okay to turn brown skinned people away from their restaurants. We wouldn’t have to wonder if the museum staff was especially rude to us because of our skin colour or bad manners. But be perfectly okay addressing men and women from the North East as chinkis! And laugh loudly at Sardar jee jokes. 

Maybe it’s time we all accepted that oppressed can be oppressors. The victim can also be a perpetrator. 

Many of the former colonies of the British empire like the white settlers in New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, America slaughtered the indigenous to take over their lands. Indian society still thrives on oppression of its marginalised. 

Yes, change is how we evolve as a society. Adulting is about discovering your favourite kaku is an insufferable sexist and that your childhood idols were flawed. But this growing culture of cancelling anyone who doesn’t ascribe to your worldviews and pouncing on them in droves and shaming them is doing more harm than good. People have forgotten how to be authentic and are now focussed more on saying the right things. And when their true personas emerge, their actions seldom match with their politically correct bytes.  

Some of the greatest minds of this century were flawed. Their contradictions were shocking and difficult to come to terms with. But does that mean we negate the influence they’ve had on shaping our present and popular culture? Of course not! 

Cancelling Enid Blyton and her likes is mostly performative - a modern version of Gladiator games.  It pretends a few blue plaques revoked can make racism go away, though in reality it is still thriving. It manifests in news headlines, rich countries refusing to share vaccine technology with poor brown nations. It exists in the white savior complex, a popular trope. Focus on that instead. Recognise you are no better and leave the dead alone.