A ‘bad year’ will henceforth be relative to that in which an invisible organism bound the entire world together in misery. I hope the bar will never be reset.
My mood was upbeat – broken jaw and all – when I published my post on setbacks & silver linings last December.
I did get to dance and drink – think I ate well enough too but it’s the drinking I remember more clearly – at the wedding my niece organised so meticulously for her daughter in late Jan.
We left for Chile towards the end of February, the farthest west we have ever travelled, and managed to make it back home mid-March by the skin of our teeth.
We had just landed in San Pedro de Atacama with five days to go on our itinerary, when I happened to read a government advisory shared by a friend on Twitter. It spelt out deadlines for institutional quarantine for returning travellers and the closure of (our) borders in under a week. Chile closed its borders two days after our return.
I imagine there are silver linings there if I care to look for them. The stars that aligned to get us back at practically no extra cost. The gathering of almost every member of our extended families at the wedding which seems unlikely to happen again and not just in the foreseeable future.
I cherish the time I got with both my sisters and their families and especially my (older) brother-in-law who seemed to have only survived sepsis three years ago to be able to witness his grand daughter get married. He gave up his fight in July in the middle of one of our stringent lockdowns. Much as we miss him, we think he’d earned his release.
It’s been hard not being able to be together when we needed to be the most. Hard, coping with the anxiety and the loss. Although I am acutely aware that my privilege, in a country where a huge majority suffered extreme hardship, made it relatively less hard.
Being constantly reminded that we are in the high risk category drove us into a paranoid shell that we were beginning to get comfortable in. It took the passing of a very dear friend (of a massive heart attack) last month to shake us out of our paranoia and on to the road to visit his wife in Bangalore.
Last week, we dined out for the first time in nine months. With an eighty seven year old friend who refuses to let a mere virus curb his style.
“This virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, we’ll just have to learn to live with it.” Heck, those were my lines just a year ago!
It’s going to take a while more to stop wiping down everything that comes through my door with disinfectant, but i’m getting there and certainly looking forward to the one thing I’ve missed even more than travel: my impromptu coffee dates with my closest friends.
Otherwise, it’s been an endless flow of hours into days into weeks, stuck inside our four walled universe. In a home that we’d treated like a transit point between trips up until now. It’s a good thing we never got down to downsizing to a studio (apartment) or one of us would be locked up for murder by now! I spell out our lockdown routine in a bit more detail in this July DestinAsian Magazine feature. Thanks again for the feature James.
I’ve spent the last couple of months tidying up this blog (read ruthless pruning), organising my photo albums on the cloud and adding travel planning & guide pages in response to requests from friends and readers.
I’m keeping the ‘useful’ content separate in pages (as opposed to posts) in an attempt to appease the SEO gods. Because segmented paragraphs with titles isn’t what I enjoy writing but is, apparently, what the average reader looks for. Let’s see how that, as well as my resolution to post at least once a week, goes.
I’ve completed two travel guides so far: Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda and a mega Guide to Egypt. The latter includes updated older posts with loads of added details and a downloadable ten-day itinerary in the form of an e-book. I’ve also updated my Bagan post into a more detailed guide. Would love feedback if/when you find the time to read.
I have plenty more city break and country guides coming up. If you have a destination in mind – for future travel – and see it listed here, let me know in the comments below. I’ll be happy to move that place up the queue.
Delving into my archives and into travel forums to update latest details feels like the next best thing to researching for travel currently. Working on the Egypt guide has ignited a desire to return to that ever fascinating country with a small group when travel eventually opens up.
Not making any serious plans for now, but I’m cautiously optimistic for the future of travel. Who knows? The tempering of excessive enthusiasm might just lead to more meaningful journeys.
Meanwhile, many thanks to all you patient people for sticking with me despite my long absences. I hope you, your families and friends are staying safe and well.
Big hugs and warmest wishes for as beautiful a festive season as possible under the circumstances and a happ(ier) year ahead.
Featured image: A monsoon sunset from our living room balcony.
PS: In my eagerness to ’tidy’ up the blog I turned a few personal posts to private without realising that toggling them back to public isn’t an option. Apologies in advance for any notifications you may receive for re-published old posts. I assure you there aren’t too many.