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  • Writer's pictureRoshan Dhanasekar

Amid the pandemic: A new travel experience

I welcomed 2020 with love, laughter and warmth by the beach in the South of Sri Lanka, drinking cheap beer with total strangers. And at that time, I had only one objective for 2020—that I wanted to travel to 12 cities across India. Then came an uninvited guest to our lives who continued to stay put despite our constant efforts to bid adieu. At that point, all I could dream was about the time when I could travel, when I could soak my feet in the mighty ocean and when I could walk through the unknown trails to reach that spectacular sunset viewpoint. Then came the time almost a year and four months later when I packed my bag and set off to a place (almost) far away from civilisation.

Yet, there was an underlying fear about travelling amid the pandemic as right about when I was to travel, the second surge hit the country with a never-seen-before increase in COVID-19 cases.

Travelling during the surge

I have seen the best and the worst (to an extent) as a traveller. I have trusted strangers on the road who ended up becoming a few of my best friends. My mobile stopped working during the trip—pushing me to navigate by asking for help from others. I have missed trains and buses. I have gotten myself a free window seat with extra legroom because I was nicer to the lady at the check-in counter.

However, 2020 has changed the way we travelled. It has changed our perspective towards living. It has instilled a grave fear among us and a constant state of panic, who is now our fellow passenger.

When I got to know that I was travelling to Goa, I was beyond excited. Butterflies kicked in my tummy, and all I could dream of was the amount of Goan Fish Curry and Rice that I would be eating. But just a couple of days before I could leave, the number of COVID cases in the country shot up, and I went into a state of panic. The bookings weren’t cancellable, and I decided to take the plunge.

Take care of yourself, because no one else will

While I wanted to soak my feet in the ocean, drink more beer than water, devour the Goan delicacies and enjoy my holiday, it was equally important for me to take care of myself. I needed to wear a mask, sanitise my hands often, avoid public transports as much as I can and be aware of where and what I was touching and what I was doing with my hands after that. It was crucial to maintain social distancing and avoid crowded places at any possible point. Basically, it was difficult to be out there.

If there is something that I have learnt in my life so far, it is just that no one else will take care of yourself the way you will take care of yourself. And at times like these, when people out there do not have the will to take care of themselves, you will have to take care of yourself. Whether I packed my beach shorts or not, I packed enough face masks and hand sanitisers.

With the state of my panic established here, I had one of the best holidays ever in my life. May be it is because it was Goa, or it was the place that I stayed at or it was all the food that I ate and the beer that I compensated for water. It was important for me that this much-needed break from my routine, away from the people I knew and a little less screen time (Instagram does not count).

Now you must be wondering what I did in Goa. Well, it is coming up here shortly.

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