It’s that time of the year again when AC manufacturers are set to make a killing. Everyone around is going to be cribbing about the daunting heat outside and find excuses to stay indoors. Yup, you know summer has set in when you are inundated with those pesky forwards on WhatsApp which asks the sun to reduce it brightness and the sun in turn retorts with an advice of taking care of the environment. Or, well if you have friends with a good taste in WhatsApp forwards, there’s Dermi Cool who springs out of hibernation on your television screens every summer.
Well, enough of being cynical about summer. The first thought that flashes in my mind on hearing the word “summer” is the two months of bliss during our school days which we used to refer as summer vacations. Not that I hated school, in fact I don’t remember ever voluntarily skipping school, but the prospect of spending my days playing cricket with friends, reading Tinkle and Mickey Mouse comics and gorging on delicious home-made food was too hard to resist. The visits to the golawaala to slurp on kaalakhatta icicles and lemon soda to replenish ourselves after playing in the scorching heat, returning home drenched in sweat and making the folks at home run behind us to have a bath, devouring jackfruits like there is no tomorrow and playing WWE trump cards with friends and all of us aiming for absolute supremacy. Ah! The good old days have faded under the pressures of building a career, worrying about academic performances and looking and preparing for summer internships.
It’s not just restricted to that. Summers are when life, and not Facebook, gives you a major throwback in life. Vivid memories of visiting my native place in an AC coach of a train are captured in a secure spot somewhere in my brain.Those days of innocuous intentions when no one was a stranger. Sharing food that you packed from home with your fellow travellers and taking a bite of their food is one distinct memory; after all the food from the neighbour’s house always tends to be sweeter! When you would introduce yourself to the elderly uncle at the adjacent seat and you learn that he is an ex-army man and you would inundate him queries about his life as an army officer, the wars he has fought get inspired by his anecdotes and admire his valour. Or you could happen to meet someone your age, with similar interests and paint the town, or in our case, the bogey red. Often at the end of the journey, you would end up exchanging addresses and promise to stay in touch as pen pals. The train bogey would feel like one huge family straight out of a Barjatya production. And how can food be kept oblivious to travel? Since my native is in Kerala, we used to be served a sweet dish of fried banana in the train which was motivation enough for me to coax my parents to travel by train than flight.
Thinking about it, summers are a great time for travel bugs to indulge in their favourite leisure pursuit. Beaches are a top favourite among travellers during summers and what better place than Goa for revelling at beaches? And if you think Goa is too clichéd, there are many other options. If you’re the one who prefers the mountains, you have the much sought after Ladakh to immerse yourself with Buddhist philosophies or the serenity of Kashmir. If you want to take it international, you have the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan who’s got your back. For the hippie traveller, you have Rishikesh in Uttarakhand with yoga, spirituality and adventure in abundance. Those looking for a dose in pristine, rural cultures along with travel, here are some interesting homestays across South India: Hello Sunshine