Every summer, the pastoral call of their motherland, Kerala, beckoned my parents. Their children would plead that they change direction at least for one year but these entreaties were dismissed as flakiness. Summer months were set in stone. And contrary to the breezy, game-for-anything attitude that the sun induced in many folks, for my mother and father, it was a season for constancy.
Kids, however, are enamoured of the new and for that reason my face developed a serious case of the ‘summer scowl’ for our family’s month-long sojourn away from the city. I held on to it as if it were my most precious accessory. Even in the midst of unbridled fun—summer in Kerala has a disarming way of wearing down the staunchest defences and a person can only sulk so much—I was quick to plaster the scowl back on. Any sign that I was enjoying myself would only encourage my parents’ loyalist tendencies, I figured.
These days, my summers are as free as they can be. With providence and resources on my side, I could just as well spin the globe and pick a spot to summer at. But in the last few years, I have been searching for a tradition of my own making. Granted, the season is an exciting time of possibilities and a cue to throw caution to the wind. The unbearably same-old, same-old is made slightly not so, if only through temporary escape. As some of you would suggest, there’s no need to stay rooted in summer.
Why this quest for a ritualistic journey to one place then? As light and frothy as summer is made out to be, it has long been associated with routines. Caucasians descending on Bali for their annual surf-and-yoga retreat, millennials on a camping trip to the Western Ghats, elderly couples heading to Mussoorie for a respite from the heat or die-hard road warriors planning their yearly summit to the mountains are all creatures of seasonal habit. Everyone has their go-to destination and it’s one where they try to create an idyllic alternate universe.
Some of our readers may already have their summers planned. I imagine there are those, who will be following paths they have tread before. For others, NGTI’s summer issue has much to choose from—a scrumptious gelato-sampling feast in Italy, a charming rustic getaway on a Ratnagiri farm, an immersive trip to the holy land in Jerusalem and an artsy trail of Monet’s favourite haunts in Normandy, France. Perhaps, by the end of this summer, we would have found a place to call our own, a refuge to return to over and over.
Lakshmi Sankaran fantasizes about a bucket-list journey to witness the aurora borealis someday. Editor in Chief at National Geographic Traveller India, she will also gladly follow a captivating tune to the end of this world.