The whole house is abuzz with excitement. The kids, Ayush and Anjali have been busy packing their bag since their summer holidays started two weeks ago. Their enthusiasm is contagious and my wife, Sheetal and I are also beginning to feel a tingling anticipation for the upcoming trip.
I have been on dozens of these annual family trips, and yet, I excitedly look forward to each one. These trips have been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. I don’t know how it started and there are many different stories about its origins, depending on who you ask.
Satish uncle says that my grandfather and his brother had a huge fight once and refused to talk to each other, until their father (my great grandfather) sent them fishing for the day and the two brothers came back the best of friends. Ever since then, it has become a tradition for the whole family to travel together, at least once a year.
His wife, Nilima aunty, has a different version. She says that the trips began as a reunion of the family during the summer holidays. The version I like best is the one my father had told me when I asked him about it. He said that his father, my grandfather, began this tradition of travelling to a new place every year as a way to learn about different communities, their cultures, food, and ways of living. Grandpa believed that there was no better teacher than travel.
As a kid, I did not appreciate the significance of my Grandpa’s point of view, but I remember the drama of choosing and voting for the next travel destination with my cousins. And the anticipation of spending our summer or winter holidays exploring this new place. I now have a cupboard full of albums from those trips, each with a story to tell. Often, Ayush or Anjali pull out one of them, point to a photo, and ask me to tell them the story behind it. My cousins have different mementoes from these trips. Akshat has a rucksack full of small rocks, pebbles, shells that he has over the years, while my younger sister, Sheena, has all sorts of dried leaves and carefully stuck in a scrap book.
I always loved those holidays but it was only when I moved to a different city for college that I realized how much those annual trips enriched my life. To begin with, I knew a whole lot more about the cuisine, lifestyle, languages, and history of different parts of the country. It was easier for me to relate to people, no matter where they were from, and all that exposure in my growing years had made me an open and fearless person.
Organising those trips became harder when my uncles and aunts scattered to different parts of the world, which made me all the more determined to keep the tradition going with my family. When my son, Ayush turned six, I told Dad about my intention to revive the family tradition. He was all for it but he did warn me of the difficulty and the cost of such trips. They would save all year just to be able to afford the flight tickets, he said.
While I appreciated the hardships my parents went through, I told Dad not to worry as I had a plan. I had been a member of JetPrivilege for a while now and got most of my cousins to enrol. We had been earning JPMiles on air tickets, but also when we shopped, dined, even subscribed to our favourite magazines. We were ready and keen to restart the tradition.
Thanks to the JPMiles, almost all of our air tickets for that first trip ended up being free. Our first trip was to Lansdowne in Uttarakhand, where Ayush bought his first postcard. Thus began a brand new collection.
Everything is just the way it was when I was a kid, but with a slight twist. Now my list of collections also includes the collection of JPMiles that I earn from every trip we make.
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