A week or two, max. And then it's vacation time in Mumbai.
The burdensome Board exams wind up and so do the other less-dreaded end-of-year ones in each school and college. Time for kids to throw their books away. My son is planning a bonfire.
"Wait," I screech," let's see your results first! "
Who cares! that's another month or two away. In the meantime, it's time to wipe off the worry lines and ... holiday!
"Why don't you go to foreign?" suggests the travel agent. "Best time. Recession, hai na ? Everything's going empty. Very cheap!"
Hmmm... that is very tempting. The kids are grown up enough not to need their hands held every minute. And we're not so old that we need to pack walking sticks too. Yeah, maybe it is the perfect time.
So the process starts. Where do we go?
"Europe," booms hubby. "Let the kids see another culture." Er... that's what they do see every other day in the movies they watch and the Archie comics they devour. Not to mention the fast-food they reach for every time we go out.
"Can we go somewhere cold," pleads my daughter, wilting in the summer heat.
"Ha!" smirks my son, "who nearly passed out on Rohtang Pass? " snigger, snigger, snigger
But I'm fine with Europe too. We developed a soft corner for the European countryside ever since we holidayed there on our honeymoon eons ago (no, we didnt sing on the slopes of Switzerland) . Heck, I'm fine with anything, just so long as we're going somewhere !
Okay, visa time and back to the travel guy.
"Hmmm... problem hai, sir. Do you have relatives in the countries you're going to? Or friends?"
"See, you have to give letters from someone living there. Or you have to have a confirmed hotel booking. If you want, I can book. We have peoples in all countries. No problem."
Yes, problem. Yes, very big problem! Britain is the only place where we have relatives who can vouch for us just passing through with no intentions of hanging on.
What about Bavaria or that beautiful little b&b cottage in the Swiss Alps where I had set my heart on staying?
And the Romantic Road! I've been dying to travel down that road ever since I heard its name.
And Salzburg and Munich and Paris !
"Mey-dom, see, I told you. No problem, just book hotel now. I will do it for you. Or go on group tour ..."
Noooo ! I don't want to stick to any schedules and routes and dates. I'm on holiday!
I want to travel as the fancy takes me. Pick up my bags and set off when my traveller's legs start to itch. Put them down and vegetate when my mood says so...
If I book rooms and tickets, then where is the fun of travelling?
I want to travel down intriguing roads, stop when I see a beautiful landscape, wait to talk to the locals... not rush to the next dot on the map just because I've a confirmed booking there.
So, it looks like Europe is out. And my worry lines are back in.
As an afterthought, though, I just realised that at least the cancelled plans have saved us another worry ... how we're going to pay for this grand holiday!
But ... does this mean there's no place "foreign" which is okay with our kind of travel? Where you don't need to know where you're going to be the next day?
How sad! I wonder what Marco Polo would've thought of that !
(The image of the poster is from the collection of David Levine . He's got a fantastic collection of travel posters. Go check it out! )