Mr Grumps goes wild over a 72-hour holiday that consisted mainly of sitting in the car.
I took a short family holiday last week. No, I don’t mean a family with height-challenged relatives; it was a break from what some of those same family laughingly refer to as my ‘work’. It was meant to refresh, rest and recreate, and I am reliably informed that in a few weeks I will probably feel that I have refreshed, rested and recreated. But I have to recover first.
The plan was to bid goodbye to civilisation for 72 hours, go where no internet had gone before and avoid television and speed breakers. Ah! You know what happens to the best-laid plans. They gang aft agley – or, to shake off the vernacular and put it in English, they often go awry. I think poet Robert Burns said that, although he cannot be blamed for the various aches and pains that driving away from civilisation can lead to. For one, there is no such place. You cannot, it seems, get away from the internet, television and speed breakers. They greet you at your destination with wicked smiles and expressions of both triumph and pity.
As children we were told that there is someone who sees everything (to discourage us from telling lies or dipping into the cookie jar); the internet is probably the modern version of the all-seeing, omnipresent rule-enforcer. You can’t run away from it. So why don’t you ignore your messages, you ask. But is that possible? When the phone informs you that a message has just landed, only those with the foresight of Odysseus, who tied himself to the ship with ropes to hear the sirens without reacting to them, can even hope to ignore it. And I had forgotten to carry the necessary rope. Or the ship, for that matter.
But that was not the worst of it. If you are taking a 72-hour holiday, there is one thing you must not do. And that is travel for 36 hours. Twelve hours up on day one, 12 hours down on day three, and 12 hours exploring in-between, looking for wild animals in their natural habitat. Perhaps all the animals are such masters of camouflage that the promised tigers and elephants stood around disguised as trees and tall grass. We did see a butterfly – but I can’t confirm that it was wild.
If years from now, my grandchild asks me, “What did you do on your 72-hour holiday, Grandpa?” I can only answer: “I sat in a car and sat and sat and sat.”
Next time the tiger can be the one to visit. I’ll ask the animal to first make an appointment and call on me at home any week that has noWednesday in it.
Suresh Menon is a writer based in India. In his youth he set out to change the world but later decided to leave it as it is.