The Story of Every Long Weekend Ever

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Every group of friends has that one guy who keeps track of every single calendar (including the Hindu, Umma, Chinese, Attic, Mayan, etc) and unleashes havoc with the three most dangerous words in holiday history: “Let’s plan something!”
“Let’s plan something!” opens a Pandora’s box that could mean anything from a night out to a stressful four-day trip to Ladakh in the middle of October where the temperature drops (on a good day) to -1 degree. One can tell how excited someone is in the group based on how quickly they reply to the message, “Let’s plan something, bros.” The person who replies first is the only one really looking forward to it, while the rest just don’t want to be spoilsports and play their role in passive agreement. The occasional “Awesome” and “Let’s do it” need to be dropped to indicate you are game but may later back out due to unavoidable excuses.
Planning always begins big because planning doesn’t factor in reality. “Why don’t we all just take a holiday on Friday as well? That way, we have Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off!” quickly goes to “Let’s take an off on Tuesday as well, maybe we can go to Bangkok.”
Eventually, like Rome, all roads lead to good old Goa. The Goa trip has now become the vanilla ice cream of getaways. It’s the default word that gets registered in the brain the moment someone says vacay. If there is a four-day break and you haven’t planned anything, your car begins driving itself toward Goa. The brainstorming on the logistics begins. “How much will it cost? Will we go by flight? Or train? Where will we shack up?”
As soon as the conversation starts to get serious and the recommendations start pouring in, one braveheart announces that he will not be able to make it. Apparently, he has a “family function” to attend. This is secretly the moment a couple of others have also been waiting for. The guy has taken one for the team and the floodgates have opened. Suddenly everyone starts finding flaws in the plan and why it is a not the best idea to execute right now.
If it’s just the three of us, then there’s obviously no point going ahead with the plan, everyone wisely concludes. Plan A has failed and it’s time to now move on to the next one, a slightly more realistic idea. One hiking enthusiast will invoke the idea of a trek and everyone will start celebrating once again. A day’s trek makes infinitely more sense because the first thing that comes to mind is “Sleep!.” You need to go out for just a day and have an entire day to laze before you resume with your hectic office routine. This, allow me to warn you, is the first sign of aging. The day you stop planning trips that have you landing early morning and then rushing to work, it’s time to read an eulogy to your youth. From here on, your whole life will be centred around the idea of sufficient rest.
Once the destination for the trek has been decided, the next round of 897 Whatsapp messages begins: The debate over the meeting point. You argue furiously to make sure that the meeting point is closest to your house. After all, who wants that additional stress of travelling to the meeting point and then travelling to an even further destination. It is very important to define the radius of how far you are willing to travel from home in terms of kilometres during the holiday. Once you have won the battle, you may retreat back into silence.
As you get closer to the day, the only person looking forward to it, posts the dreaded message: “What time are we meeting tomorrow guys?” Every single person reads the message instantly, but there will be complete silence for the next six hours. This is the time for the smart one to emerge. The guy who makes a last-minute excuse to ping the planner privately and tell him about his “emergency” (the cat got stuck in a tree). Now even the enthusiast has reached his limit. He rattles off a series of abuses and leaves the group.
Everyone who didn’t want to be a part of this plan heaves a huge sigh of relief. No one wants to admit it, but secretly they’re glad he’s gone.
In your head you now start to calculate all the things you are going to do at home with three full days of free time, most of which will be spent between three-hour naps and telling yourself you deserve them. On Day 2, you will finally leave your bed after guilting yourself into at least watching a movie or reading a book, and you will do this keeping in mind that you have another day to nap. This day now seems like the dream sequence from La La Land.
The final day of your much-touted weekend is a horror show — you realise that the three days got over faster than the stock at Big Bazaar on “sabse saste teen din”. Anxiety takes over.
Just thinking about the fact that you’ll have to go to office the next day stresses you out. You know that with every new email that loads, there will be inexplicable sadness in your life.
This is the reality of every long weekend. And when it is all over, you desperately look up the calendar for the next one, promising yourself to make the most out of it. But there isn’t a long weekend or even a public holiday in sight for the next couple of months.
Which, upon reflection, turns out to be a good thing. It turns out that a couple of months (or more) are exactly what are needed for the scars of the long weekend to heal. That’s enough time for your WhatsApp group to slowly convalesce from the twists, swerves, and heartbreak of planning the last weekend. It also takes that much time for you to decide that the avalanche of emails and to-do lists the Monday after is a worthy tradeoff for the daily drudgery that is the work week. And so, after enough time has passed, we give ourselves a case of voluntary amnesia and start making plans for the next epic getaway.
Goa, anyone?

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