Friday, April 3, 2009

Over to Uttarakhand: Prelude

It has been along overdue on my part to go to Himalayas. I couldn't pardon myself for the past six years that my kid has seen the Alps, but not the Himalayas. The reason why I didn't dare to take my kid of 1.5 years to Himalayas is that I was not confident whether the hotels and the drives would be comfortable for a small kid. Very interestingly my parents took me and my brother to Kashmir when I was just 7 and my brother only 2 - very similar to the age of my kid when we went to Europe and didn't have the confidence to go to Himalayas. Does that mean that I'm over protective of my kid and that my parents were casual about us. Well, the answer for this question is not that simple. 

It's very true that my parents took care of us to the best of their abilities and capabilities and resources. Thirty years back India was deep into her license-raj regime and 1980 was just out of emergency and the subsequent failure of the short Janata regime. 1980's was also the period when the divisive forces started becoming prominent across the country. Just a few years after we went, Kashmir became a distant dream for the tourists because of terrorism. Punjab, on the way to Kashmir, also became deadly for quite some time. Overall 80s was not at all a favorable period in the history of India, be it politically or financially. Most of the things that were just commodity items in the west were still items of luxury. I don't know how long my parents would have planned for the flight journey from Jammu to Srinagar, because the alternative route by bus was not something that my parents, even at that time, felt comfortable to do with my small brother of 2 years. Taking a flight used to be a matter of pride for all. It used to be something that we used to discuss among our friends, the neighbors used to feel jealous about and most importantly required enough planning for middle class salaried people. But the fact remains that my parents did not want us to take the 16 hours bus journey from Jammu to Srinagar. With the resources they had 30 years back the most they could afford was to take the flight. Perhaps I also did the same thing when I planned for a Europe trip rather than going to the Himalayas - the only thing that changed in between is the economic condition of the middle class and salaried people. So initially I felt bad that I'm getting too protective of my child, but then when I realized that even my parents were equally protective of us and the degree of protectiveness has changed just as a function of the prosperity of our country over the past two decades I no longer felt bad. 

I feel proud of the developments that my country has made over the years. Like me, many millions of people can afford things now those were considered niche and elite even a few years back. I still remember the euphoria when Balaji's dad bought the first color TV in our 'para' (a locality in Bengal, which used to be something like a huge joint family even in the recent past). That was not something in the remote past - just 20 years back. And now even Dharavi has more color TVs than what the whole Bombay might have had in 80s. 

After thinking all these the guilt of not showing Himalayas to my kid before Alps did subside a bit!! Anyway, now my kid is 6.5 years and I hope he has the same fun and frolic as we had in Kashmir some 30 years back!!

Over to Uttaranchal now.... 

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