Last week as Margaret Keenan in the UK became the first person anywhere in the world to receive the Covid-19 jab, the end of the deadly pandemic seemed to finally become a reality. I received multiple messages and calls from my friends and family in India congratulating me as if I was the one receiving the vaccination.
As the holiday period approaches, it is a time when people would ordinarily be booking travel and planning to be with their loved ones. This year though, a few may travel to be with loved ones but many are wary of risking others’ well-being – the pandemic, ofcourse, is still not over!
Earlier this year we saw people’s plans being postponed, whether it was a holiday or indeed their weddings. But then there have been sad news of loved ones dying, not just in the mature age group but friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues in their twenties, thirties or forties. So in the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a number of backyard and intimate family weddings as also anniversaries, birthdays and occasions that would typically see a grand party. What a contrast from destination, themed, high budget weddings to simple exchange of vows followed by blessings from elders.
Last year, the running theme of conversations at social gatherings with friends was how everything was so expensive that it was hard to save anything. But this year, one notices people investing in home refurbishments, buying a new home or simply just increased savings. This past year has also left many without jobs and some businesses have suffered, even closed down. Everyone, irrespective of their circumstance, are looking ahead to the year 2021 with hope.
If I were to ask you, what you’d do or who you will go and see once the pandemic is over, I am sure you have on the tips of your fingers a list of loved ones. Your bucket list of places to visit, things to do, adventures to embark on and experiences to be had! There will of course be a few of you, who are much happier in this quieter, contained version of life, suddenly discovered – I certainly am. Long nature walks, early to bed, early to rise routine, reading that pile of books that remained stacked up gathering dust; picking up a hobby and refurbishment projects are also the new normal. One does miss the warmth of company, of personal touch rather than a technology enabled video call. The simple gesture of hugging someone to greet them is now a thing of the past, at least for the foreseeable future.
Flicking through channels on television or entertainment online, there are the usual holiday themed family movies being watched. I am a sucker for these films and yes, I do watch them and cry a lot. It makes me miss having a family. It makes me miss being with someone special, sharing that hot chocolate and simply the comfort of having someone around. That’s what it is like when you are home isn’t it? You don’t necessarily talk to everyone all day but the comfort of having them all around is special. Cooking together, debating over differing opinions, feeling frustrated about the generation gap and the usual banter of a household – something that people living away from families will have missed so much more this year.
Holidays used to be about travelling, exploring the world and creating bucket lists. But now, they are simply about being with family and making memories, together. For, who knows between this holiday and the next, there may be a pandemic that tears our worlds apart!
is the London-based UK Head & Representative at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and an active Indian diaspora campaigner. In this regular column for ‘iGlobal’, she will focus on issues that deserve spotlighting within the Global Indian community, referencing her personal experiences.