Q&A: In conversation with Travel Blogger Shama Ahmed
A communications professional working at an MNC, Shama Ahmed is a travel blogger and nature-lover with a voracious appetite for travel. She loves to take the road less traveled to photograph and study animal behavior in the wild. Partial to the jungles of South India, her love affair with the denizens of the tiger reserves in India started ten years ago, during her first safari - when she was armed with nothing but a small camera phone and oodles of curiosity.
Being the kind of experienced traveler that she is, we talk to Shama about “holiday hangovers” - a topic that we have for long wanted to feature in our Q&A sessions. Shama helps us get under the hood of holiday hangovers in an attempt to understand post vacation blues, and how to get things into perspective.
Over to our conversations with Shama Ahmed . . .
A good vacation rejuvenates me as nothing else does. No spa, no mall can come close to the feeling of absolute contentment I feel when I am away from the city and when I am one with nature. Of course, the moment I touch city limits after a good holiday, it’s a sinking feeling. The stress sets in immediately, and I know that until my next vacation I have to wake up to the sounds of incessant honking and traffic - rather than the melodious bird sounds and the pollution-free air that I miss so much. I call it the holiday hangover, and the only ‘fix’ that can help me get over it is another holiday. Most of the times, I cannot wait to simply pack my bags, load the camera, and leave.
I would say that they are much worse. Once you’re past the dreadful Monday, the blues fade away, and you count the days before the weekend starts. As far as holidays are concerned, you know that the duration between two holidays is much longer than just a week, and it makes you yearn for the next time you’re away from the laptop and the perpetual feeling of catching up. In fact, the only time I welcome a Monday with open arms is when I am at one of my favorite reserve forests - though it doesn’t really matter what day of the week it is, in a forest location.
Well, it is challenging to get back to the grind. It is tougher when my holiday turns out better than I expect it to be. I tell myself each time that for a new holiday to begin, this one must end. Planning my next holiday even before the current one ends is what helps me tackle the routine of mundane city life. Sometimes, I like to go back in time and browse through the photographs I took on my previous trip, or I blog about it. It eases the transition back to my everyday routine and keeps me going for a while.
It’s really a very subjective thing. Some people prefer taking a big, long break and disconnecting completely. While there are some like me, who prefer shorter, more frequent breaks. I cannot imagine going for months without a holiday, or not taking in the sights and sounds of nature. It’s like an addiction, one that I wouldn’t ever want to get over. So yes, a longer vacation makes things worse for me, as that means I don’t get to travel as much as I would like.
It’s hard to forget the commitments that we can have. A holiday hangover can be much worse for people who go on fewer vacations because the time between two vacations is much longer. Some of us also have responsibilities that keep us from taking off at regular intervals. It’s not always possible for people to simply sweep these responsibilities under the carpet and go on a holiday at the drop of a hat. So I would say that there is no perfect answer to this question. Today, I am fortunate that I am in a position where I can take frequent short breaks. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? The secret lies in figuring out what works best for you and plan accordingly. What works for me may not work for someone else, and vice versa.
The “feel good” for me lies in sharing my wildlife photographs on social media and not pictures of myself. When I click pictures of various birds and animals in their natural habitat, it’s purely with the intent of nurturing my desire to make memories that I can share with like-minded people. Personally, I am not a fan of splashing pictures of myself doing “fun things” while on a holiday. Just like I enjoy learning about different species of flora and fauna from other nature photographers, I like to think that I am, in a small way, giving something back to the community. To me, it’s about raising awareness through photography.
There is no escaping the hangover blues. No matter what you do, they’re out to get you from the moment you are on your return journey. It’s important that you have something to look forward to when you get back home. It eases the transition. When I say that you must have something to look forward to, it does not have to be a fancy cruise or an expensive holiday abroad. A small picnic at a picturesque spot outside the city, or an overnight getaway somewhere close, keeps you going. When I feel absolutely down and out after a wonderful holiday, I remind myself that the best is yet to come.The only advice I have is that a holiday should end on a high when you’re hungry for more. Otherwise, it’s an overkill.
My immediate family and some of my close friends have a timeshare plan, and they seem to be very pleased with it. It allows them to select from a variety of locations and customized plans based on their preference. Unlike a couple of years ago, when people were wary of timeshare plans as they had limited exposure and information, I see a lot of people keen on buying a plan today. Perhaps in the near future, I might consider going for it myself.
That incredible lightness – Shama’s article in The Hindu that inspired this interview
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