This appeared in Mumbai Mirror yesterday...
We’re all going on a summer holiday….
One of the most annoying tv commercials airing these days, shows a school boy coming home early from cricket practice and cribbing to his father about being the only chap in the group not going on a summer vacation. At this point, a little girl pipes up and says in an irritating sing- song way , “Papa… papa… even I want to go on a holiday.” The poor dad looks a little sheepish, recovers quickly and assures his kids he’ll organize a chhutti for them.His wife ticks him off sharply (yup, right in front of the kids), saying, “Why are you lying to them?” And that’s the cue for the father to grin broadly and inform the family he has switched EMI payments to some other bank. Why do I find this commercial so intensely irritating? For the same reason, I find most lifestyle ads disgusting. There must be countless fathers stuck in similar situations, unable to fulfill the unrealistic demands of their children at this time of the year. There is so much pressure to ‘get away from the heat’ ( like we know any other weather!) , it has become a social disease that claims more victims than a heat stroke. We are bombarded on all sides by peddlers of holiday packages. We fall for these cons We succumb. And if we are left without the option of that face saving vacation, we are doomed.Neighbours one runs into in an elevator , stare pityingly at those staying put, as they themselves load bags into waiting cars… and drive off smugly to the airport. Aaaargh!
As a school girl in Delhi, our summer breaks were car trips with the family, often to destinations that were even hotter than Delhi ( Agra! Imagine!!). We stayed at government Dak Bungalows and ate inedible oily meals cooked by drunk khansamas. But we still managed to have a great time. Yes, even sleeping under discoloured and torn mosquito nets, with blood- thirsty mosquitoes buzzing around our ears. Like Karan Johar stated many moons later, it was all about loving the family.Today, holidays have been converted into competitions. It’s all about impressing the neighbours. And the pressure exerted on poor dads and moms to make sure the kids can boast about a dream vacation is such that large sums of money are being borrowed to placate these brats. Of course, the only holidays worth taking and talking about are foreign ones. Who wants to see India, I heard a kid scoff last week.
How on earth do young parents deal with this nasty zabardasti? Should moms be totally candid with their kids and admit how tight the money situation really is? Should dads be discussing EMI problems in front of innocent bachchas?How should harrowed parents deal with the disappointment of children who expect them to produce funds and plan swanky holidays – just like the parents of their more affluent friends in school and college? Tough, tough, tough. Today’s kids are well informed and cunning. They think nothing of ‘shaming’ their parents into shelling out money for what in the old days were called ‘wasteful expenses’. An older generation of more cautious parents knew how to traipse around such landmines. Not that it placated kids. But at least, kids didn’t make them feel guilty and inept for not whisking them off to Mount Titilis. These days, the bachchalog have become fully besharam! They not only make unreasonable demands but hold the parents responsible for not fulfilling them. The comparisons with Sweety’s dad and Munni’s mom, never end!And kids don’t really care where parents produce that extra cash from – so long as it’s there!
This year’s top ticket destination is Turkey. I am headed there myself. Am I glad I don’t have pesky kids in tow. But what’s the bet, the flight to Irresistible Istanbul will be packed with brats bleating, “Papa… Papa… forget visiting Topkapi … let’s go and see JohnAbraham’s home from Race- 2 .” Abraham’s ‘home’ in the movie was, believe it or not, the super fabulous 560 rooms Mardan Palace Hotel in Antalya Why not? Bollywood has always been the most reliable tour operator in India.The Bosphorus beckons. And I am right there! The hell with those EMIs.