Coronation

“Hey you, Pick it up a bit more. Oh, come on, lift it up. I can’t see the pin of the scale” My wife was urging me to lift the heavy suitcases higher.

She continued “By the way, your weight has increased. No more fried fish for you”.

“Huh” I reply.

“We are three. That means 90 kilos in the cabin bags and other 7 kilos each in handbags. Total of 90 plus 21”.

We both struggled with the addition.

“Which school did you go to?” she asks me mocking my exceptionally good math skills.

“Get a calculator” I shout, precariously and daintily balancing myself on top of that “borrowed and forgot to return” weighing scale, my hands trembling due to the enormous weight, while she tried to fit her tiny head to check the weight on the weighing scale.

Woo. Such good times! I long for such conversations with my wife.

Well, the above conversation was played out, twice every year, when we went for our annual vacation. Carefully planned suitcases, filled with rubbish to the brim, were given to me to weigh and that, which seemed like a mundane task then, now seems like such a sweet memory.

Oh boy! Do we always value things when we lose them?

Last week, the world celebrated World Tourism Day, and the flood of pictures and blogs on my social media opened my gates too. I spent half a day reminiscing of the vacations we have had so far. Being a lousy photographer, I had to rely on my diminishing memory to relive those moments. I went to the travelogue section of this website and read through each one. Whether it was the boy’s trip to  Pondicherry- https://pinchhofsalt.com/2019/12/06/pondicherry/, or a family vacation to Soans island – https://pinchhofsalt.com/2019/10/13/soans-island-basrur-karnataka/ , vacations are great indeed and great teachers too.

I remember once, in Istanbul the taxi driver dropped us at the edge a never-ending flight of stairs, got the money from us, told us to enjoy our vacation, and left. Verina and I had to lug our suitcases down the stairs and all I did while lugging those heavy bags was curse the Turks. I cooled down only after the lovely lady from the café taught me how to drink Turkish coffee the right way.

Never malign a whole nation for some rogue behavior of one of its citizens.

A vacation begins much before the actual departure- the planning, the budgeting, travel and accommodation bookings, sometimes visa procedures add up to the fun of a vacation. I leave all of this to my wife and I do the single most important thing we both do while on vacation- RESEARCH ON CUISINES!

If it is a trip back home, a list of “wants and don’t wants” will have already reached both mom and mother in law respectively, through WhatsApp. If it is elsewhere, I will have read every inch about the culture and cuisine about the place we would be visiting. Thanks to Sundar Pichai’s webpage, information is at the fingertips. Don’t know how accurate.Information nevertheless.

Food has always been the main driving force behind our vacations- the cheap beer and delicious pork dishes of Pondicherry, delectable Kati rolls and puchkas of Kolkata, the fish fry on Chennai beaches, Kebabs of Turkey, pork sausages of Prague, the delicate thin slices of Schnitzel from Vienna or finger-licking homemade dal and chicken tandoori from Muthakka in Soans island.

Times change! 2020 has been a tumultuous year for many and if I am not wrong, each and every one of us is in need of a good vacation. We all do. Don’t we?

My wife and I decided to go on a vacation too, sans all the pre-vacation procedures. We decided to do it locally.

The United Arab Emirates is a beautiful country, with a lot of small pockets of civilizations, randomly scattered across the country. Protected by gorgeous beaches, the country has the second-best beach in the world. I always rate our beach at Halealve, the best. 😊 . I think these are the only two beaches I have been to. The food here is good and restaurants are open with strict restrictions. The northern side of the country is lined with lush green farms and amazingly notorious wadi’s- valleys, which are dry in summer and flood during the scanty rainy season, often without notice. Most people have the perception that the UAE is only about glitzy towers and flashy cars- which is so wrong.

PC: Sunil Mathias, Dubai
PC: Sunil Mathias, Dubai
PC: Sunil Mathias, Dubai
PC: Sunil Mathias, Dubai

Along with family and close friends decided on a trip to the Wadis. At the onset of winter, this would be the ideal time to explore the unexplored. The adrenaline of the drive was getting higher as the day approached. My wife prepared a load of sandwiches that would last the entire winter.

Alas! The second wave struck.

The coronavirus kicked our vacation right out of the window. The sandwiches did not last the entire winter, as they were forced down our throats, whenever possible. They were delicious, especially the one with shredded chicken, and pickles.

The only long vacation we have had this year was from our bedroom to the living room, and the only exploration I have had is when I found a brown tile, which did not match with the other white ones in my study. There was a pile of books, neatly wrapped in a DHL bag on the unlucky tile. I realized then that this bag was supposed to be shipped to India, before the pandemic. OOh, it was a long time ago! No wonder the tiles were resembling the landscape of the desert!

The vacation during corona times is what I call CORONATION, the title of the article.

The pandemic I think is good for local tourism, which probably is much needed to boost the spirits of people and also the plunging economies of most countries. If there is one thing these unprecedented times have taught me, I would sum it like below

Explore within- within our countries, within our houses and within ourselves.

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