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Holiday Tales

A Monsoon Holiday

Muddy feet, wet bermudas, a damp T-shirt and a soiled rag-doll look is, what the fashion pundits say, the style to sport in that tropical paradise you are heading for this annual vacation.

A Natural Wonder
The hair-dryer and smart jackets are best left at home. This is no time to walk the ramp. Simply walk in the rain. So much is made of the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China. A wonder, perhaps as old as the continental drift, are the south-westerly winds that unfailingly hit the Indian subcontinent year after year

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A monsoon holiday in India
drenching a whole nation. Are you game for a monsoon-sojourn in India? From June to September, a carpet of green spreads over parched lands embellished with idyllic water-falls, gushing rivers and dancing peacocks . Unfortunately, this paradise is not for the faint-hearted and hardly one for the squeamish.

A riot of green
My monsoon vacation took me to the famous Bombay-Pune highway where every crevice is an excuse for a waterfall and every ditch worth its name, an overflowing pond. Amidst relentless rain, you will be spoilt with lush green hill-slopes and greener valleys. Perhaps the best part of this tropical downpour is that you can get wet without falling sick. Even on the tiny hill-station of Matheran, just two hours away from Bombay, you can safely cast-off the warm clothes.

Packing Tips
Pack light T-shirts, thin cotton shirts and light trousers. The operative word is light, thin and plenty. You can have fun while getting wet, only if you have dry clothes to change into. Other than the bare essentials, don't expect to wash your clothes too often. Overcast skies make for unsightly clotheslines, both inside and outside the house. Thick turkey towels are out. If you don't have any, purchase the thin towels in India. Only when your haversacks and kits emit a rich musty smell, with all the damp clothes in it, may you call your wet vacation, a success.

Let the rains plan
Don't force the pace. Meticulously planned tour itineraries can be reduced to paper-boats for your children to play with in muddy puddles. Let the monsoons dictate your schedule. A honeymooning couple wanting to drive down the scenic Poona-Bombay highway on their way to catch a flight to Dubai could only make it halfway to Lonavala in crawling, bumper-to-bumper traffic. Apparently there was a landslide and traffic was held up for two whole days on this crucial link between India's two major metropolitan cities, Poona and Bombay.

While in India, and especially during the rainy season, travel by trains. The roads can wear thin, your patience and endurance.

Far from the madding crowd
The good news for tourists is that the locals are a sensible lot and would not venture out during rains. So you have the place to yourself. Imagine the main road of a popular hill-station that is normally packed with fat, overdressed, and out-of-shape local yuppies, being gloriously deserted!

While travelling, pack enough food and water. Delays are the norm, and don't make newspaper headlines. Mineral water is available anywhere and everywhere, and should be checked thoroughly before consumption. My daughter discovered dead ants floating in one of them!

Plan short day-tours or overnighters as against travelling long distances - it is always sensible to get back and often to base camp to sort out the filthy clothes from the dirty ones and the less wet ones from the clothes that are soaked.

Just in passing
India may not win points on cleanliness, but there is no reason why you should add to the filth. Carry a garbage bag for all your rubbish and DON'T forget to throw the bag in a garbage bin. It may seem a futile exercise, but we have to make a start somewhere!

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