Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 21, Dated May 29, 2010
|Illustration: SUDEEP CHAUDHURI
This is the point when you wonder why selfhood in modern life is tied irrevocably to
work. This is the morning to sit down in the dark, still-curtained house for a pity
party. The pleasant aches of sloth or long walks haven’t yet changed into that sharp
pain in your mid-back yet. That’ll happen on Wednesday evening, when your
cheerful holiday persona is a distant memory. All those resolutions — to learn spanish,
to join yoga class, to not be pressured into yuppie fetishes like spanish and yoga
— will fade by then. You’ll grit your teeth and say: “That was another country. Besides, the wench
is dead.” By Wednesday, the carefree wench will be replaced by a humourless workhorse.
But that’s three days away. Right now the cool sheets on the unmade bed surrounded by
suitcases are tempting. The clock can’t hector you into rising and you contemplate when and
why work became inevitable.
Ask Tony Perrottet, author of Pagan Holiday, whether the ancients felt this way. Perrottet
gleefully retraced the Roman tourists’ steps — one of the earliest civilisations to turn safe
travel into leisure. Perrottet used a backpack of ancient texts and a second-century highway
map on a 20 foot scroll and found some things don’t change in millennia — bad hotels, annoying
guides and shockingly bad food. Also, post-holiday blues.
The other thing that hasn’t changed since the Romans is our desire for tacky souvenirs and
holiday memories. Only now, every moment is recorded and painfully uploaded. sometimes it
feels like only losing your camera will allow the sepia haze necessary for a ‘crazy time’ — recollections
accompanied by headshakes and eyerolls. Only
then will holidays settle into self-contradictory memory.
Did we not visit the temple? Did we go in January? Was
i that drunk at Tequila Joe’s?
|You remember that
holiday as one in which a
friendship wilted. But in the
picture you’re both smiling
But allow time to do its glorious damage. One day, in
spite of incessant archiving, you’ll be startled by a photo
in an untitled folder. You remember that holiday as a
nightmare — in which a friendship wilted. But in the picture
you’re leaning casually against each other, smiling.
A picture falls out of a book — the first holiday your mother
took after dad died. You remember how hard you tried
to show her a good time without making it look like you were trying. A picture of a nowfavourite
hotel you stumbled upon in a moment of penury and daring. Then the picture will
again be an object of reverie. in this issue you’ll see some very famous faces in unfamiliar
ways — ordinary, happy and on holiday. We are overexposed to photography but we promise
— a picture can still break your heart a little.
it’s to that end — poignancy— that holidays are packaged today. Purveyors pile up activity,
romance and history and promise it’ll all be ‘memorable’. Destinations are now status markers.
Everyone knows that pesky girl who insists she was the only one in the group of ‘losers’ who ‘did’
Gangtok properly. All of which — besides the expense — can make holidays seem far too much
like work. Thankfully, despite our avarice for uniqueness, in india where every 50 km offers a
baffling new world, the possibilities of ‘undone’ destinations are endless. in this issue our writers
share 20 secret and unlikely holiday destinations, from Cherrapunji to Beemapalli
is this the morning after your holiday? Or the week before? Or are you considering the grim
outlook of a summer without a vacation? Allow us to tempt you. Welcome to TEhElkA’s summer
special, which holds within it the two essentials of a holiday — memories and possibilities.