After what seems like eternity, turns out that only a day and a half have been gotten through. I still have 1.5 days of this long weekend. By policy, I mostly stay put and rarely venture out during long weekends. Long weekend == trip days are pretty much a vestige of US living. Most travelling is done during off-peak seasons away from the crowds. After all, what are leaves for? At least in the US you had to accumulate them to visit home. But I wonder how I’d have managed that if I had continued living in the US. Would I still be visiting every year? But then, that’s a whole different story.
For one thing, it is hard to imagine what and where I’d be if I had continued there. I wonder how much the moving back and living in Bangalore has changed me. I do miss the cricket there, and Mt. Rainier, but there is the year-round tennis and the Bullet, apart from family. I guess it has been mostly positive.
But I digress. Getting back to traveling, planning has become such that I avoid any traveling within India during the summer months of April and May, October, and the end of December. These are usually standard travel times for most families which usually means lots of crowds, lots of waiting and sky-high prices. This has also meant that any traveling is now done off-peak, 1 or 2 months this side or that of the main peak season.
Long weekends are also festival weekends, which usually means that one has to be around home helping with stuff. But festivals have generally been stressful times. It usually involves Amma worrying about the preparations and the food that needs to be prepared at least a week before, and driving every one nuts with her anxiety. And this stress usually feeds into one or the other mishap which would screw up the whole preparations, with the additional effect of feeding next year’s anxiety. Even otherwise they involve a lot of formalities and the need to follow protocol, more than just eating and having fun.They do get happy, but only during the PM, when we are done with all the formalities and can just get to the holiday.
For the main religious ones, we were dragged off to the grandparents’ place, where one had to be extra cautious to fly under the radar. Any attention to oneself was bad, and it wasn’t easy. If bananas were being passed, someone would remember to pester me about the fruits. (I’ve never really liked bananas much. They induce an involuntary puking reaction.) Any misdemeanours were publicly ‘celebrated’ with much sarcasm during these occasions. Deepavali had its own share of stresses. I never really loved the noisy crackers. I still hate them. One got only 2 pairs of new clothes the whole year, one for your birthday and the next during Deepavali, so there was something to look forward to there. But the early morning wake up, and bath have always remained good memories.
Yes, they were all minor, and grown up I can look back at them and laugh. But then, I wonder how much all that meant when I was a kid. How much all that affected how I grew up and my current tendencies or behaviours. After all, we aren’t really machines, who react ideally to specific inputs. Maybe I should have grown a thicker skin, but I doubt that would have been possible. I am not the only cousin with such memories.
Now, most festivals are exercises in excess and that itself puts you off, be it the large Ganeshas presiding over movie songs playing on the loudspeaker, which eventually get dumped in the lakes, or the increasing noise and smoke during Deepavali. The Pooja days mean that I have to clean the vehicles and get them all plastered with veeboothi. The former usually gets me stressed out to ensure the cleaning is correctly done(not often happens), and the latter makes me not want to use my vehicle. It just feels like someone else’s. Plus there is also the dried up flowers that need getting rid of.
Food is probably the only saving grace. Be it the kozhakattais during Chathurthi or the assorted sweets during Deepavali, the cheedais and murukkus during Janmashtami, they’ve always been something to look forward to. Oh well, here’s to the festive season. Hoping for a less stressful time.