“I feel like an eskimo,” says Ashim, a budding photographer. His declaration doesn’t stem from the fact that he is experimenting on a livelihood in the Rockies in Canada, but that he is sitting at the Chandigarh airport, ready to board a flight with his COVID-19 protective gear on.
Welcome to pandemic travelling 2020.
You are not only given a face shield and a hand sanitizer sachet, but also a cloth version of the PPE kit. No more magazines, chocolates, and if you please eau de toilette kits. Safety comes first and last, but travel we must. With the world at a dead-end, the ideal holiday destination seems like a lifetime away. When nations around the globe shut their borders to try to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19 infection, travel and tourism were among those industries that were hit the hardest. March arrivals slumped 57 per cent, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
But now as time is progressing and we shed our fears and inhibitions and embrace the new normal, who wouldn’t mind a break to the mountains or the beach or the countryside or anywhere? Let’s delve into the holiday plans of some city slickers. Akshit Sharma, an entrepreneur in Chandigarh says: “I want to fulfil my dream of visiting the Arctic Circle by taking a trip to Greenland — certainly one of the best holiday destinations in the world. Greenland is the perfect place for a scenic boat trip that will take you across various icebergs and let you have a refreshing encounter with whales, walruses, and many other sea creatures. It’s going to be one of the best holiday destinations in the world with longer days and shorter nights, giving you more time to indulge in fun activities in the daylight. It’s like a dream right now but it’s there. Bad times don’t last forever, the sun shall rise every day we just have to wait for our turn.“
Amid the many takeaways from the pandemic, the most humbling experience undoubtedly has been the patience it has instilled in each one of us, especially in the hands of nature. It was needed. Kanika Singh, a psychologist and counsellor opines that each one of us has gone through a cycle of denial, struggle, gradual acceptance and surrender. “It is after the surrender that it’s left upon us to hone ourselves or wait and watch. The silence brings the answers. I personally hadn’t really valued the hill stations closer home, but there hasn’t been a day when the whistling of the pine trees haven’t rung in my ears, and now a trip on the weekend will be treasured more than a flight to any other part of the world. The survival and safety instinct will shadow the need to experience any pleasure.”
Going by the social media updates, the pandemic seems to have rekindled our relationship with the hills. Harnoor Bedi of Ludhiana declares, “After Covid, I want to travel to Tbilisi which is the capital of Georgia, a country that has been one of the least affected in the world by the coronavirus. The country reacted quickly with measures that kept the epidemic at an extremely low level. So, it is the safest and the most beautiful option. For me, history and culture are the main attractions. Winding through unexplored territories in different parts of the world is my idea of a holiday. And with Covid, we have all had our fill of experiencing familiarity.“ True that!
Whenever the glitterati do meet, the conversations are now going to revolve around who had a holiday home in Goa or the hills. Who managed to go through? Who survived? How much was the tranquility loved? And why not? We move with the times or the time moves us. Whatever the case may be, we are all ready for a vacation when Covid decides to finally bid goodbye. Or so we hope. Until then, dream on… and wait… we shall wake up to this dream becoming a reality soon. Very soon.
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