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January 4, 2014

Stress and effort of planning a holiday, living through it and then unpacking and returning to normal routine deserves another holiday. When we were children,unlike kids today, who have ‘friends’ all over the globe but are lonely and who spend their spare time and holidays attending ‘hobby’ classes and organised camps, we visited our grandparents or favorite uncles/aunts. There were an assorted group of kids of all ages- cousins and even friends and very few adults. We played games, climbed trees, played pranks on neighbours, fought and bonded without heeding the hot sun or biting cold. We slept under the stars or on rugs on the floor, we ate huge  home-cooked meals.                                                                                 The adults were needed only when someone was hurt or ill. Sometimes, we went out for treats. The adults told us about their lives which gave us the slices of history which were not available in textbooks. My family had migrated from Pakistan to India after partition in 1947. The stories of the royal family of Punjab, the freedom fight, the hardships of partition and the rebuilding of lives made for very interesting bedtime stories.                                                                                           However, the holiday that stands out in my memory is the one I shared with my best friend after we both finished our MBA. My friend’s father was in the army and posted at Madras (now Chennai). We traveled from Punjab with her grandmother and father by train and were met by her brother and his friend in New Delhi. The journey to Chennai took 2 nights and one day which we spent eating, sleeping, reading, talking and laughing.                                                          My friend’s family was very warm and welcoming. Everyone was so relaxed and always teasing each other. We would walk down to the Marina Beach, which was a treat for me since I had always lived in landlocked Punjab. Despite the hot and humid weather and the strange smell from the river Adyar, we loved Chennai with its wide roads, beautiful buildings, women wearing brightly colored silk sarees. Sometimes we visited historical places, beaches,temples and other places of tourist interests and I shopped for Kanchipuram sarees for my and my brothers’ weddingsDSCN0635 DSCN0188. My friend’s mother is a superb cook and she would make lovely treats for us. What touched me the most was that she had breast cancer and was undergoing chemotherpy but she never let it affect us. It was my one and only taste of army life.                                                                                                                         Now that I am grown-up myself, I realise how big-hearted it was for our hosts to open their homes for us. These days  people crib about the financial burden or the loss of privacy when anybody comes to visit.


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