Sunday, 16 March 2014

Building A Home of Happiness, With Moments of Togetherness#Go further to get closer

The title of the contest left me immersed in my thoughts for some time, “Do we really need to go further to get closer?” At first I dismissed the idea of writing on the subject as I thought closeness is not dependent on the location. But as I lay on my bed in my nocturnal dialogue with myself amidst the background music of snoring of my husband, I started pondering over as to how the family vacations away from home affected the relationship of family members.
Even if you think holidays can bring you closer, why you need to go further? After all, a holiday is a holiday. I understood soon as I recalled family holidays to our parental home or attending a family function like wedding.
Visits to hometown means socializing with the relatives and friends who your children would find as extinct as dinosaurs. Your mother/mother- in- law (tick whichever is applicable) would chalk out your plan for visiting chachii, mausiji, mausaji ki bahan ke devrani etc.etc. Though you are not at all keen to meet these aunties, you have to fulfil the plan to make your mother/mother-in-law happy. By the time you return home after visiting so many relatives, all you can talk to your spouse is the unromantic topic of cure for indigestion or acidity caused by drinking too much tea. On top of it you have to give up your good night’s sleep to accompany your child in his frequent visits to restroom, caused by overeating of pooris/Halwa on the insistence of chachi/mami/mousi. Leave apart closeness, you are fighting with your spouse over whose turn it is to wake up for the child.
The situation during family functions like wedding is more miserable. If you want to talk to your spouse, finding him/her would be as difficult as finding a unicorn. You have to find a sensible child who in turn would find another child who recognises your child and convey him your message to find out his father/mother and tell him/her to attend his cell phone as the ring is not audible due to background noises.
Normally on visit back home after such holidays, you would feel like carrying a label on your forehead “Shikayaten yahan drz ki jati hain” (Complaints are registered here) as the journey is filled with allegations being labelled by your spouse regarding the food being of worst quality (as if you had cooked it), the unruly behaviour of children of relatives (As if you taught them to misbehave) etc. . So, moral of the story is though visit to parental home or family wedding is highly enjoyable, they are not ideal if you want to get closer.

When I think more about holidays, it reminds me of family vacations throughout India including beautiful places like Goa, Laddakh, Andaman Nicobar, Kerala etc.. No doubt we enjoyed them very much, but at the same time I am reminded of the visit to Nainital with my sister’s family, when a telephone call forced my husband to cut short his leave and return to attend to an urgent meeting fixed at a very short notice. I am sure that the telecom revolution in the country has proved to be so much of a blessing for none other than the workaholic bosses who can summon their subordinate from any corner of the country with an official expense of one rupee on a telephone call. The subordinate has no other choice than to cut short his leave and report to duty leaving the fuming wife and whining children behind.
So,  while I pondered over these unpleasant memories, I decided to recall my best holiday memory and I didn’t have to give a second thought to it, as I knew it was my maiden foreign visit!!!!!! My  visit to Switzerland, which is my most memorable holiday.

I was in great dilemma whether to accompany my husband, when he got a chance to visit Switzerland on an official visit.  I was in a decisive state of mind even though it was my long cherished dream to visit a foreign country (that too Switzerland), but at the same time, the thought of leaving my children behind was sinking my heart. My husband  convinced me not to take children along as he felt that rather than enjoyment, foreign visit would be more of a burden for the kids, especially as we did not have any idea what we were going to face. My mother-in-law also supported him as she promised to stay with the children in the period of our absence and I knew that she would take care of kids better than us. Finally, I decided to accompany my husband, a decision which I never regretted even for a moment.
At the starting of our journey, we realized, how pleasant it was to travel without carrying a baby bag containing diapers, wet tissues etc., the stuff we had become used to carrying. Also, rather than bed time stories, we could have discussions on any topic on earth without having to explain a toddler the meaning of each and every word.
The journey was filled with fun and joy never experienced before. We enjoyed each and every moment of it.
On the very first day of our visit, we decided to explore the city of Geneva and left the hotel with a map. We asked the way to lake and were waiting for the bus at the bus stop. We burst into laughter at our own mistake, as the bus came on the other side of the road and left. Though we knew that there was right hand drive there, we had automatically stood at the wrong side of the road immersed in our conversation.

There are many such memories, like once when I was annoyed with my husband while going to a tourist spot and threatened to go back to hotel. My husband also got annoyed and turned back. After walking a few steps, he stopped, held my hand and returned back, saying, “No! We have spent so much of money in this visit! We are not going to get this chance again! We should postpone this fight till we get back home!” My annoyance vanished at such an innocent reasoning for stopping the fight!
Be it running together to catch the train or searching the stores with maximum percentage of sale to buy gifts for family, we experienced the joy of togetherness in these small acts.
Thanks to the high rates of international roaming and the hassles associated with getting it activated, we travelled without it and realized that it was a blessing in disguise. Though we arranged a local SIM card there, only family members had access to it, so the time spent on phone calls was restricted to 5-10 minutes at the most as against a usual two-three hours a day back home, again thanks to high rates of international calls (phone conversations reminded the calls made from STD booths in 1980s, when only one liner questions were asked and one word replies were given). Also, the TV channels played on our hotel room TV did not interest us the least, so we found it better to talk to each other rather than watching TV.
When we were returning home, we were eager to meet our kids, whom we had missed badly, but at the same time we also felt that this visit had enabled us to share some very special moments of togetherness.
Our visit to USA and China followed the following year, for which we didn’t give even a second thought on going together without children.
During these visits also, we gathered many sweet memories, which we can cherish lifelong. Being a strict vegetarian, I had problem with food served in China, but at the same time, I realized the advantage of having non vegetarian husband, something I had never realized back home. I didn’t eat anything there until my husband tasted it and certified it to be vegetarian. I was also touched to see that even after being a non-vegetarian, how much he respected my vegetarianism.
A very special memory of US visit is travelling through British Airways. Though the journey was long (with a two hours stopover in Hethrow), comfortable seats, friendly cabin crew with their impeccable service made this journey feel short. The pure vegetarian Indian food served was very tasty, which made the journey even more pleasant. In the flight, I was impressed by their wisdom, as the  Hindi movie Dostana  was on the watch list during the flight, which is shot in Miami. Incidentally, that was also our first destination in the US visit. The movie is still very close to our hearts, as it reminds us of our US visit.
After completing my walk down the memory lane to recollect all my memorable holidays, I ended my journey  with a smile remembering my foreign visits. As I analysed those moments, I realized that going further had actually brought us closer, as we had plenty of time sans work, TV, telephone, kids, relatives, worries, stress etc. to spend with each other. The time flied in talking, laughing, arguing, getting annoyed and then resolving the dispute within few moments.
I now do not have any doubt that the tagline is so true: “Go further, to get closer”!


This post is written by me for British Airways and Indiblogger

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