We are in that time of the year when every conversation at parties and elsewhere, too, will eventually get down to the question: ‘Where are you going for this vacation?’ And don’t be a fool by replying that you have planned to visit your grandma in the village. Firstly, there are no more villages left. Secondly, your grandma passed away some 15 years ago.
Ha, ha, I was just joking. Anyway, if you are to be taken seriously by your friends and acquaintances then you have to certainly take a vacation trip to some fancy place. But these are not good times for the economy, by this I mean, our personal economy. There is hardly any money to travel to our offices, so expensive vacation holidays are out of the question, unless of course you happen to be the reigning don of the underworld. In which case you will forever be vacationing in exotic locations and hence would not be reading this.
So what is the way out for non-dons like you? Well, all is lost. You need not take a vacation trip, but you can certainly create an impression as if you had. And you can still induce the sense of stomach-burning envy in your neighbour, which, you will agree, is the true, and sole, purpose of any expensive and luxurious activity.
The first thing to do when you want make a strong case that you had been out of the country is to have typical airline tags sticking out your suitcases. But this should not be difficult to establish, as Indians, by a general consensus, never tear off the airline labels, no matter that their last flight travel dates back to Rajiv Gandhi administration. Indians, if they have happened to travelled by air and have a suitcase or bag with the airline sticker, will prefer to take that even if they are just out shopping for vegetables.
So the suitcase evidence, by default, takes care of itself.
Then comes the place that you are supposed to have travelled to. Then again, no sweat. There are well-established patterns and you just follow the rules.
Attire: When you are deemed to have returned from a trip to America, you have to show up in ill-fitting shorts and a pair of Reebok or Nike even if the occasion is your own wedding or funeral. This strict dress code can be breached only when you are taking bath.
Language: Just remember all the misspellings from your school days. Also recollect all the gauche usages (ain’t, gotten) for which you were asked to write impositions running into several pages in your class. Get them all together and use it in your conversation. American lingo is all that and many others that grammar books shun.
References: When you are shopping in Big Bazaar or Spencers, you have to inevitably thread into your conversation the name of Walmart. The general feeling that one gets from those returning from America is, America is located inside Walmart.
If you are eating in a local restaurant, you must be smart enough to invoke the name McDonalds.
England: This is a place, which claims to have given civilisation to the rest of the world, still has cast-iron monarchy in place. The hallmark of British royalty is a succession of Queens and princess who, if they were slightly dark in complexion, will have a striking resemblance to actress Gandhimathi. Even in the event of a unexpected quirk that saw a passable beauty like Diana becoming a princess, normal service was quickly restored by Prince Charles, who, sticking to the admirable ‘ugly only’ tradition of the royalty, eventually opted for Camella Parker Bowles, whose looks can be replicated if Kumari Muthu were to asked to don women’s dress. If you are to establish that you have just come back from England you have to talk of the British monarchy and the beauty of Thames. But nobody will be interested in listening. So there!
It is a hoary city and it has many interesting historical events surrounding it. But don’t even talk about it. Paris is not so much a city that has to be explained in words as it has to be shown in picture. The best to show Paris is to show a picture of the Eiffel Tower. You may be hiding in a nuclear resistant bunker in the depths of the earth, but if it were somewhere in the vicinity of Paris, then Eiffel Tower should be seen in the background. This is an internationally laid rule. Eiffel Tower is a beautiful monument that stands a tall testimony to the universal fact that despite evolution and advancement in all fields, it still doesn’t take much to fool people. Eiffel Tower, if you want to contract terminal vertigo, is a good place to visit. Otherwise, you can just download a photoshop-equivalent software and incorporate an Eiffel tower picture in a photo of yours. Voila, you have returned from Paris.
The good thing about east Europe is people here are by and large ignorant about most parts of it. This is due to the fact the places there have spellings that are not technically possible. Take for instance, a country like Hungary. Szekesfehervar. Hodezovasarhel.
Nyergesujfalu. These are names of some of the important towns in that country. Budapest was apparently chosen as the capital of Hungary solely on the basis that it was only city whose name was possible for a human to pronounce. Then there was Czechoslovakia. Any country that had ‘Z’ following ‘C’ in its spelling always had difficulty in remaining as one entity.
So my general advice is, don’t talk too much about East Europe. You don’t have physical faculty to even utter those names, leave alone making a case that you had been there.
Okay fellows, times is running out and I have a friend waiting for me in a restaurant. Tonight I am going to order for cockroach soup, which needless to say will confirm that I have just come home from a trip to —–take your pick —Japan/China/South Korea.