Phew, thank God for the coronavirus. Usually, I dread the summer vacations because everybody I know posts pictures of their holidays abroad, you know—with the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower or some random Trump Tower in the background, and pretentious hashtags that sound like the names of SUVs in the foreground—#Gypsy #Wanderer #Vagabond. Which is ridiculous because show me one legit vagabond or gypsy who can fill out all the mind-numbing, hair-splitting details demanded by a Schengen Visa form?
Or, their pics featuring beach resorts in Spain and France, where they click close-ups of their sandy toes, or the beads in their hair with hashtags like #sunkissed #tangledhairdontcare and #beachbum. Which is even more ridiculous because which Indian likes or needs to be sun-kissed or tangled or to have dusty feet? We get all that for free right here at home! And, you can be sure that the women in those pics are going to head straight into the arms of their regular therapists at their beauty parlour once they are back, who will coo and tsk-tsk over them and immediately prescribe a de-tanning-facial-mani-pedi-hair-spa marathon.
But the expensive holiday hashtags that really get me triggered are the humblebrag ones, like #famjam #qualitytime and #OGgang, kyunki, if all you wanted to do was bond with the OG gang then you could have invited them all home only for quality conversation, biryani and beer on your balcony, no? You could have turned on the fairy lights, put a nice Spotify playlist, played Monopoly and just hung out. You did not go all the way to the freaking Kruger National Park to #famjam. You went there to #showoff #flaunt #taunt #suckitupcheapos.
So, coming back to the coronavirus, I am really sorry that so many people have died and so many are suffering terribly, but I am also really glad that so many more people have been grounded. Thanks to Covid-19, they can no longer go stomping all over the world causing a pandemic of heartburn, envy and competitive conspicuous consumption. And cash-strapped, under-pressure people like me can give a light, rueful laugh and say: “We had to cancel our tickets to Italy and Korea at the last minute, can you imagine? It’s too sad ya, and we lost two L on the deal, and the kids are devastated, but what to do, safety first, no?”
Hopefully, it is going to be a quiet, low-cost summer of staying in, reading, Swiggy-ing, Nexflix-ing and video-gaming. Perhaps, the grounded brigade will even do the whole become-a-tourist-in-your-own-city thing! We do tend to overlook our local attractions: I was part of the One Show ad-festival jury in New York once, and when they took us on a Liberty Island cruise, we found out that none of the New Yorkers on our jury had ever seen the Statue of Liberty before, though all of us international jurors had.
So, hopefully, desi tourism will get a boost. People will queue up to visit Qutab Minar or the Gateway of India, or walk through Cubbon Park in the early morning and rediscover the beauty of their own cities.
Or maybe not. I hear that people whose international travel plans have been foiled because of the coronavirus have now been bitten by conspicuous consumption vulgaris. They are rushing out and buying cars and jewellery in order to prove that even though they are holed up at home for the summer, they still have money to burn.
Luckily, I have an answer all prepared for this. If anybody asks me, “Oh, why you didn’t buy any nice jewellery this summer, ya?”, I am going to glibly tell them: “I can’t pull out and spend more than fifty thou tops ya, because all my money is in Yes Bank, na.”