BENGALURU: This time last year, when Wuhan’s true potential was still an unknown quantity, one of the most important decisions (in those days of innocence) before us was: Where do we holiday this year? 2020 was a unique year, it had rhyme and rhythm, it marked a new decade, and was meant to be celebrated. No doubt, there were millions like us, charting dreams and plans.
So after the New Year resolutions were shared, discussed and scoffed at, came the big question: Where? The la-di-dah lady, with upper crust pretensions, declared that she was done with domestic destinations and it had to be somewhere exotic, so please open up those purses. The young man, grappling with board exams, would poke his head out of his books with his two-bit too.
It was a mission of sorts: we all put pen to paper, scanned websites and maps, checked out airlines and visa regulations, calculated and recalculated costs...Bali? Maldives? Food trail? History tour? Europe? Mediterranean cruise? Dubai Expo 2020? Even the shortlist was pretty long.
But that was not to be. Our plans, which had barely made it to the drawing board, melted away. Travel seemed like a distant impossibility, the world was locked and barred, and if we could get our groceries, we were content. The best-laid plans of mice and men... But dreams are free, so are voyeuristic voyages, and they could do no harm. Those bitten by the travel bug will vouch that the travel itch can gnaw away at peace, and wanderlust demands it be sated.
Were we going to allow the virus — that tiny bag of protein with strange protrusions, afraid of soap and heat — to get away with this murder of normality? No, sir. The logic being that sometime, somewhere, the virus is going to get everyone, the planning began again, though far less ambitious. And we were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise and an equally awe-inspiring sunset, both uplifting experiences -- as the sun rose with a warm golden glow, it brought hope; as it dipped, a brilliant orange, it set the sea on fire and promised to return. Both reinstated our faith that all would be well with the world again.
The first tentative venture was a friend’s farmhouse (we could be in control of our surroundings), the second to neighbouring Nandi Hills to catch the sunrise. Conservative elements warned that we were being foolhardy but we argued, who would spend a night up on a chilly hill in the middle of October? Our presumptions were upturned — there was a virtual traffic jam up on the hill and many more hardy fools like us!
That emboldened us into a Goa trip – bags all bundled in, armed with Fastag and Google Maps, we were ready to hit the country roads. Another surprise awaited us there, resorts and hotels were packed and it seemed that anyone and everyone was out on the beaches. Fear had long been abandoned, and the ‘work from anywhere, study from anywhere’ gypsy trend had only served to boost tourism. Ditto on Malpe beach. All going to prove that nothing can suppress the human spirit. It’s unstoppable: throw lemons and it will probably lounge on the beach and sip lemonade. Little wonder that the virus is on the retreat.