You may start a new hobby of cooking and learn something new about cultures Image Credit: Hannah Busing

The financial crisis of 2008 started a new trend in vacations and people enjoyed staying at a hotel nearby, and now with the pandemic, holidays at home are the rage.

Plan the home vacations as you would do for a trip abroad; says one travel expert, who advises that you should also calculate how much it would cost for online tickets and how much time it would take to visit a virtual museum or online Disneyland with the kids.

Take a culinary vacation, one blogger enthuses, saying that you can enjoy international cuisines right at your home, from Moroccan veggie tagine to American fried chicken, to Mexico tacos. This way you can start a new hobby of cooking and you learn something new about cultures, she said.

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“Which country shall we visit today?” I asked my wife, putting on my kitchen apron that we had bought in Canada that has a picture of a plump, toothy beaver on it and a bowl of poutine, that is a speciality of the North American country.

Poutine, pronounced ‘poo-tin’ and not ‘poo-teen’, is a tasty and messy-looking dish that will surely stop your heart, and is basically French fries, crispy on the outside and soft inside, curd cheese (something like Indian ‘paneer’) and slathered with brown gravy.

Our virtual foodie trip to Canada

One thing I learnt that day is to never make French fries in an air-fryer, and our virtual foodie trip to Canada was a washout and time was most mostly spent in washing the huge kitchen appliance that looks like a futuristic nightmare.

Meanwhile, our maid, till recently worked from home just as a techie, because of the lockdown, and she delivered the food she cooks at home for us, at our community gate next morning.

Bassama, the maid, was not allowed to step into the community by the overzealous housing association, so my wife took the daily rations such as flour, cooking oil and horse gram in small plastic containers to the gate to hand it over to her.

Horse gram tastes really yummy, seasoned with chopped onions, tomato, and various spices, but its side-effect is like the coronavirus, where people have to keep a six-foot distance from you to be safe and save themselves from an assault on their olfactory senses.

“Can she cook some local foods?” I asked my wife, as I was getting a bit jaded eating only dosa (a crispy, savoury pancake with a tiny dollop of mashed potato) and Basama said sure, and she made a ‘palak dosa’, spinach pancake, that was green in colour and looked like food that aliens eat in the galaxies far away, and is sure to delight kids who hate boring veggies.

If you are a couch potato, stream movies with a travel theme, suggest the experts, such as Eat Pray Love, where a new divorcee travels to Rome, Naples, India, and Bali in search of herself, or Lost in Translation, a very unlikely and cute love story set in the bustle of Tokyo.

Or, if you are Bollywood movie mad, then stream Queen, where Kangana Ranaut takes you to Paris and Amsterdam and discovers you do not need a life partner to have fun, or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Don’t Live Twice) and take a lazy road trip through lovely Spain.

When I was younger, reading books was described as armchair travel, as TV in those days only showed buffaloes or how to fight aphids in your crops.

Today, not many people buy books made from pulp from precious trees, but you can still travel from home reading, say, Shantaram, a story about the underworld, right from your phone or listen to it on audio books.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi