Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Flashback to over a decade ago.
It's a chirpy Saturday morning. Dad just got back after his daily badminton game. Mum's trying to tempt me into waking up by circulating flavourful breakfast aroma all over the house. When that doesn't work, my sister empties a bottle of water on me, and runs away to seek the impenetrable haven of Dad, where I can't reach her.
As we slowly approach noon, the discussion becomes more intense by the minute. Do we drive to Lonavala again, or do we find a new getaway? Mum finds an incredible resort just a few kilometres outside of Pali, and seeing as our ongoing Ashtvinayak Darshan (eight Ganesha temples scattered across Maharashtra) had been disrupted to explore newer, farther places, we settle on picking it up again. Everybody is in the car in the next hour, the kids book a room on the way, and we're off to yet another weekend family retreat.
This is how almost every weekend from my childhood looked like. Last-minute plans, little arguments about if it'll be a beach getaway, mountain retreat or a temple visit, rushed packing - which was more throwing the first clothes that we saw in my school backpack, less careful consideration; and driving through unknown, unexplored roads, relying on technology and good Samaritans to help us reach our destination. For all of that effort, it's funny how I hardly remember any of the hotels or our destinations, just the mornings and the drive there, and an overwhelmingly powerful sense of familial bliss.
I loathed missing even a day of school, so we'd often return around Sunday night; exhausted, but content. I never understood how a hurriedly planned day and a half could be as refreshing as the weekends turned out to be. All I know is, after cleaning up and going to back to the everyday life, we'd huddle around watching TV, with Dad commenting on how the poorly scripted comedy soaps are bringing down the country's intellectual capacity, and Mum shooing him away to get ice-cream for the kids - just to get a moment's quiet, furtively glancing at me with a mischievous sparkle in her eye.
I'm not entirely sure of the reasons I'm writing this down. Perhaps, I just want to preserve the moments most precious to me; so that when another decade later, I'm tangled in business calls and daily chores and real life, I stumble across this, and remember how euphoric existence can be, beyond business calls and daily chores and real life.
I could close with a contrasting description how we live today, but something tells me I don't need to, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Out of curiosity, I looked up our year-wise ranks in the Happiness Report that everybody has raving about lately, and I was not surprised to find, that after a monotonic decline, we have dipped 38 places from where we were in 2013. Co-incidentally, that's probably the last year we took our little weekend visits, before pre-boards and academia caught up with me. Uncanny?
So, I'll leave you with a William Blake excerpt, one that been on my mind a lot lately:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour