Come vacations and children are quite an excited lot, since it means not just respite from academic pressures but also visiting places, reaching out to grandparents and unhindered freedom to indulge in recreational activities. Children especially await the allure of summer vacation which is of longer duration obviously because it means ‘more holidays and hence more fun-filled days.’
(Picture used for representational purpose only)
However, holidays do not always mean just playtime and enjoyment. Spending holidays productively is also an art. Getting involved in productive pursuits during holidays applies to everyone, not just children. Professionals can utilise vacation to enhance performance levels. Research reveals that without recovery periods, our ability to continue performing at high levels diminishes significantly.
Holidays need not necessarily mean just relaxing enough. A refreshing sojourn can also be productive too. It can also be an exciting learning experience.
In our school exams we were often asked to write a letter to a friend on how we plan to spend our vacation. Of course, to score marks, we used to write many things that were never realistic. Yet, holidays still leave me with experience that I always cherish and relish.
I am sure each one of you would have the same feeling. But, my focus here is to recapitulate and arrive at a workable proposition on spending holidays more productively.
During my childhood, we used to spend most of our vacations especially summer holidays in my native place, Adilpet, a small village, while we lived in an industrial town. The contrast was refreshing. I still remember going around nearby fields. I saw the farmers toiling on dry lands. Such was the impact of those images, that it has inculcated in me a strong empathy towards the plight of the farmers.
I was always talkative and never hesitated to interact with anyone and everyone I meet. This urge to communicate made me speak to many farmers. The personal narratives of how agriculture produce is priced, often to the detriment of the farmers, were heart-rending.
This was also how I also developed avid interest and fascination for agriculture. My dream and passion for having few acres of land and take up cultivation has remained unfulfilled till date. But, the pleasure to be in farming still remains with me, thanks to the childhood time spent in the farms and speaking to farmers.
I was mischievous and in fact intolerable for my mother who had to deal with me since my father was working even during the summer as a cashier with a tendu leaves contractor to earn additional income to make our lives much better.
I still vividly remember the year 1972 when I was in fourth standard. My mother told my father point blank that she would no longer tolerate me this summer especially in his absence. But, my father was not ready to forego the additional income though he appreciated my mother’s difficulties in handling me. He got a brilliant idea. I was so impish.
Yet, my father knew that I was intelligent, and more so, an enterprising child. He gave me an assignment to learn Hindi alphabet during the summer vacation. My mother was strongly of the view that I would not be able to do so. My father accepted the challenge on my behalf.
Six weeks of vacation was the testing period. Believe me, I not only learnt Hindi alphabet but by the end of the vacation, I started writing even Hindi composition much to the surprise of my mother. My father was proud of me and my achievement. The summer vacation was productive for me and also refreshing for my mother as she could tide over the problem of handling me.
But, I cannot learn Hindi alphabet every year. My father had to innovate during the later part of my childhood. This time around, as I grew up, my father assigned me the task of reading out Ramayana to my fellow villagers who were largely illiterate to keep me engaged. This is how I read Ramcharitmanas, the epic written by Tulsidas (of course its Telugu translation) more than ten times.
I was not just reading it aloud. I had to explain it. This improved my Telugu language skills and helped me to be a bilingual writer later on. This also enabled me to develop teaching and oratory skills. These skills shaped my career and life all through my adulthood. Besides, the wonderful life of Lord Rama had a profound impact on my personality too, especially since it kept me away from any kind of vices throughout my life.
Even after reading Ramayana for my fellow villagers, I still had lot of time to kill. We were not allowed to go out till the evening due to sweltering summer heat. My uncle, who used to live in the village had a collection of more than hundred novels to engage any relatives who came to visit him.
This gave us an opportunity to read fiction. It improved the creative imagination in us contributing to my writing skills, which I never even thought would one day become my profession and passion.
I was enthused by the epics so much that at one point of time I had even thought of leaving my house to go to Himalayas to do penance as the history lesson on how Siddhartha transformed into Gautama Buddha was still fresh in my mind. Thank god, the worldly aspirations instilled by reading fiction swayed me towards what I am today.
We might not have gone on a long trip to a summer resort during my childhood. Economy at that point in time certainly did not allow us this luxury. But, no regrets, money does not always matter. Where there is a will there is way to spend vacation productively.