I’ve always dreaded the fifty second week – that time of the year when working is contemptuously looked down upon! As a Type-A workaholic who thrives on relentless hustle, I’ve always found this extended celebratory week to be painfully agonizing.

While others would be gung-ho about long weekends and beach holidays, I’d be worried about how would I “not work” for a week. Forget a week, even a day without work can make me squirm. I’ve never been a fan of taking vacations – largely because I never really liked socializing or sight-seeing as much as I loved working. Even when I’d be coaxed into one such experience, it would seem to me more like a task to be accomplished rather than an experience to be enjoyed. And I’d always end up with a guilt of having “wasted my time”. So I’d prefer avoiding vacations altogether.

But apparently, there’s no escape during the christmas week! As I know best, most of my colleagues at work would be vacationing this time of the year. I’d be bored in office, to say the least. In the larger view, most businesses are on a winding up spree at the fag end of the year. Even beyond work, most of my friends would be unavailable – as most of them would have made extravagant plans for the NYE. All these leave me with no other option, than to go vacationing myself!

About a month back, as I was contemplating my options to “enjoy” the run-up week to the NYE, I realized the year has two back-to-back long weekends (double whammy! :P). But somehow, I was determined to “not work” during that time. My brother had recently moved to Mysore for his job and I thought it would be a perfect time to pay him a visit, and also explore the city. I discussed the idea with my dad, who then expanded the itinerary to cover 4 cities in Karnataka!

I was initially aghast at the prospect of spending two weeks away from work!

“Do we really need this big a vacation?” I asked dad hesitantly.

“Yes dear, it’d be fun. Plus, who knows, this could be your last outing with us…” he smirked.

I then decided to take it up as a challenge. And on a sweet Thursday, I set out for the tour.

As I’d anticipated, the first three days were terrible. Though I cherished catching up with my brother after almost a month, work withdrawal symptoms were apparent. I tried my best to keep the dissuading urges at bay, with little success. I distracted myself by clicking lots of pictures (one of my side interests) and uploading some of them on instagram. This went on for a major part of my trip.

After having toured 3 of the 4 cities, I went to Udupi, which also happens to be my home town. Arguably, it was the best part of my trip – because that’s where the magic happened! How the experience would transform me, I didn’t realize until my vacation was over.

I had decided to visit some of my distant cousins, whom I hadn’t met all these years. They lived in villages on the outskirts of Udupi. I took two buses to reach my destination, which was about 15 kms from where I stayed. As I was nearing my hometown, I could sense the feeling of homecoming deeply penetrating my senses. I met my relatives, who were visibly buoyant to receive us and were more than welcoming.

It was about 7am in the morning. One look around, and I was totally stunned! From farms spread over large acres to uncontaminated water bodies resting in peace, the rural beauty was unparalleled. I could feel the fresh air breezing, cows mooing on the roadside, students walking several kilometers to school, men stocking drinking water, women buying milk and neighbours exchanging greetings. It was a completely different scene from what I used to see everyday in Mumbai.

More than anything else, I was stunned at the sheer simplicity and austerity of the village lifestyle. Life wasn’t exactly easy there, but it was astonishingly simple! People had fewer needs and were mostly content with whatever they had.

The manner in which they dealt with everyday issues is something most of the city folks could take a leaf from. They know exactly what it is to live in the present. My cousins (some younger than me) were adept at shouldering 10x more responsibilities than me and they did it cheerfully, without complaining. To say I felt ashamed would be an understatement.

They also enjoyed the smaller pleasures of life and by all means, were leading a much more fulfilled life than I have ever had. No amount of money or success could match the smiles and excitement of the children when they ran along the movement of the camera. I enjoyed and laughed with them like I hadn’t all these years. The trip was a real eye-opener for me, and more fulfilling than any exotic trip could ever be. It made me super-grateful about the things I had. Something moved in me and the rustic experience  transformed me into a better person.

After coming back, I began setting my priorities right. I cleaned my room and re-arranged my wardrobe – something I hadn’t done in a long time (mom would do it usually). I stopped rushing through tasks, instead I made it a point to actually enjoy doing what I was doing. I decided to reconnect with my old friends – I messaged them out of the blue and rekindled relationships. Yes, that was all it took – a simple message! I wondered, why didn’t I think of doing this before?!

Also, I was able to fix my sleep routine. My health improved in general. The signature fidgetiness I always had, faded. I mellowed down to quite an extent. I felt confident about facing challenges and experienced little to no stress. I learnt to give equal priority and time to my family, friends and office. In only two weeks, my entire outlook towards life and relationships changed. I consider it to be my best lesson and experience of 2017, and now I feel super-inspired to take on 2018!

I wish you all a very happy new year!! 🙂