Millennials versus Golden-Agers: Can be Travelling Partners?
Yeah, the title may say it all but my recent trip to the country of ‘monks’ have changed my lens to see my parents and concept of ageing altogether. As a family we belong to the oldest part of Delhi- India- ‘Chandni chowk’. Everything you’ve imagined about India being riotous and teeming comes to live at Delhi 6. This place was once a stately promenade and the route of royal processions during the Mughal era. Being the members of the ‘koyala kinship’ and resident of the oldest town, all of us have some bad habits of chewing paan (known as Doma- bhutan and betel nut in English), drinking alcohol, having lavish meals, eating traditional punjabi food etc. However, after much consideration the weeklong vacation was planned to Bhutan- a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’.
I was already very scared of travelling with my parents, because they both are in their late fifties and this September my father will turn 60’ too. Though both of them have traveled to few countries earlier, but in their ‘late thirties or early forties. Now they are most comfortable in their century old house and are busy in their daily routine!
For most of the children, the idea of going on a vacation with their parents can invoke trepidation. We all have heard some interesting anecdotes or narratives from our friends around coping with the grouchy moods, the endless fights, the fuss, and complaints about not being able to enjoy the sights because — Ahhh! — dad has suddenly gone off to pee while mom is still at the souvenir shop.
As far as travel style goes, we consider ourselves to be explorers. But when you are travelling with mom and dad we couldn’t do things that are too crazy or unsafe like adventure sports. Therefore, I and my sister were not very cool about going with our parents to Bhutan as it would involve lot of travelling on roads, long drives on bumpy hills, trekking to Tiger Nest temple, shifting hotels etc. We were quite skeptical about the numerous responsibilities that come along when we are travelling like tourist. We weren’t sure if it will be too hot or too cold for them, how often they will feel tired or how much they will complain about Bhutanese cuisine, as my father is not very open to try new cuisine.
Nonetheless, our journey began by leaving the boarding pass at one of the shopping store at the airport by my father at first; we struggled for more than 20minutes to find that stamped paper. A sudden sound came ‘thankfully we are 3 hours before at the airport otherwise we could have missed our flight due to this hunting’- said by my mother ‘everything happens for the good’ added by my father- both of us (me & my sister) exchanged looks.
We got a hint there that this vacation will not only be overwhelming but intimidating as well. As soon as we reached the Bagdogra airport, we got into our car-the scorching heat was bothering my father as he was sweating continuously and then in a subtle way he shared- ‘we could have chosen some other hill station as well’. A taunt again…phewww. Finally, after our immigration the next day we left for Thimphu- the capital of Bhutan. With each day starting with arguments or small fights and nights ending with beers or wine- we as family were getting better. I mean better in our manners and behaviors towards each other…!
It was our 5th day of the trip wherein, we had to climb the harsh mountainous paths to reach ‘Taktsang Palphug Monastery’ more famous as Paro Taktsang or Tiger nest. It is a Buddhist temple complex which clings to a cliff, 3120 meters above the sea level on the side of the upper Paro valley, Bhutan. I was psychologically preparing my parents for this trek way before we actually decided to include it in our final itinerary.
Before reaching to the starting point of the trek, I was continuously giving instructions like stop where you are tired, keep drinking water when you feel restless, keep us informed in case any one of you need anything or don’t want to continue etc. But the moment we started to climb, with each passing meter I was shocked to see their excitement, I was amazed to notice their enthusiasm and courage…Ahhhh! I was just dazed to observe the speed at which they were climbing that rough-tough-difficult-steppe mountain. On the other hand, I and my sister were coughing-stopping after every few minutes, feeling breathless mostly after 100 or 150 meters. However, gradually my perspective started to transform, with each changing curve of the hill, when I saw few items like sunshades, handkerchief, and doma etc. of my parents secretly kept between the rocks or hanging on the branch of the plant. Upon asking my parents, that how careless they can be about leaving their stuff behind my father in a low tone answered ‘we were leaving them for you to not miss the path and we are not left alone, we were scared’.
We started to walk again, and at one point we girls decided to not continue as it was becoming difficult for us to complete the trek. Yet, both mom and dad were trying hard to keep us motivated by narrating some random examples of bravery. So finally we were able to complete the unforgettable trek. Thanks to my parents and the unique location of the temple, walking down the majestic mountains and emerald green valley were reassuring the fact that my parents are the real heroes of our trip as they are the heroes of our life. Trekking which many of us young people give up- my parents was not only supporting us by offering energy drinks or chewing gums/toffees at every 200steps where we were huffing like dogs. They were motivating us through humor or giving examples of how we have won races or other sports competitions during our young childhood. Parents are still parents- there’s a lot to still learn from them.
I started to imagine that how’s and why my father wants to pee at every 10mins, why he keeps forgetting the places we are travelling, why my mother kept asking questions like a 4 year old kid or why she shouts on us for no reason. They may just want to eat very little and not spicy, and are constantly worried about packing and then don’t sleep at all as we have to catch the flight, they may eat slowly or hear loud, all these changes are part of life and will be faced by each of us! So we the ‘millennial’ need to be just okay about it! The major reasons for this were the changes in their eating, sleeping habits, fatigue, feelings of pessimism or hopelessness, restlessness, anxiety or irritability, helplessness so on so forth which comes complementary to them with ageing.
Well, honestly, your parents also need a vacation to escape their ageing, unpleasant health and unhappy state of mind, societal pressure; and since we live in a diverse country like India, you can never be out of choice for planning a trip with your aging parents. Going forward, one major learning from this trip was ageing is a difficult phenomenon, all you need to be prepared for this change. Utilize time to travel with your parents, explore places through their lens.