Vacation time is always one of great stress – where do we go for a good holiday? How do we get there – what about acco, food, etc? Bunge a hyperactive three and a half year old into this equation and you have a recipe for greater, migraine-inducing stress! Which is why the one place that never fails me when I want to completely unwind and have a holiday in the real sense of the word, is my in-laws place at Suchindrum, near Kanyakumari. Suchindrum is a small village which boasts of one of the oldest temples in South India. Steeped in culture, it is easy to miss it as you drive from Trivandrum to the hot spots of Kanyakumari! But for me this little village has come to stand for the lost innocence of childhood, a deluge of familial affection, a world before Apple and Android. My daughter loves visiting Suchindrum as well. It is her grandmother’s place, yes, but also so much more than that!
Where else can she wake up and come down to a house that keeps its doors wide open throughout the day – inviting people to drop in as and when they please, and the stray dog and cat as well? Where else can she take long rides in an auto along winding roads hemmed in by the sea on one side and coconut groves on the other, stopping occasionally to let ducks have right-of-way? And wash her feet in the temple tank, and feed fish, and indulge in a spot of gardening, and see mango trees, coconut groves, peacocks and sparrows….
While there is a lot to be said for living in cities, one cannot deny the charm and idyllic nature of India’s villages that allow children to remain children for a little while longer. As a family, we have visited a number of places in India, and my daughter grows up in South Mumbai where what she does not know about malls and play areas and activity centres can be fit into a small sheet of paper. But I know that she longs to be back in Suchindrum every time she has a holiday, cavorting with her cats and taking care of ‘her’ plants. And she is very very lucky to be able to do so. After all, in today’s frenzied world, how many children have the golden holidays we did, going back to old ancestral homes bursting with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins?
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I have lived in Europe and no holiday I have taken thus far has compared favourably with a visit back home. And I am glad that my daughter has already begun to appreciate this. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before our villages become townships. Already Suchindrum has wi-fi, Innovas, a Titan Raga showroom in the nearby town, and multi-storeys coming up fast. I tremble to think of the kind of world my daughter will live in when she is my age. And I wish this for her – while I am all for development, some things should be sacrosanct, so she can always go back to Suchindrum when she is need of a good night’s sleep, wholesome food, fresh air and peace of mind.