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Multifarious constraints to making most of the holiday

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Megher kole rod hesechhe, badol gechhe tuti

Aaj amader chhuti o bhai aaj amader chhuti.

Chhuti means break, recess or period of leave. It is a time off. Off from what? For students, a break from the school routine---class attendance and other academic exercises. For service holders, taking time off from office duty. Such leaves of duty can be taken for various reasons. This is why there is an annual quota of leave for employees of offices or organisations ---public or private. Of course, such yearly holiday is spent by people according to their compulsions, choices depending on circumstances and financial means.

The majority of people feel they need a break from the drudgery and pitiless routine duty but may have to sacrifice their holidays on account of more pressing calls such as family matters involving marriages in families or other happy occasions, land dispute or illness of members of their families. Others simply do not have enough savings to spend on a holiday away from work places or homes. Only a select few are fortunate to move away to the destinations of their choice either within the country or far beyond.

In recent years, people in Bangladesh, once known for their lack of interest in spending money on holiday tours, have proved the notorious myth of staying cooped within the four walls unfounded. What a pleasant surprise it is that the Bangalees of this part of the world have gone for mountaineering and a few of them have already conquered the Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. It is doubly savouring that along with four men, two women have also achieved the feat of scaling the summit and flying the red and green flag of the country atop the Himalayas.

There are men women and couples who have made travelling their passion. Some go on cycles to cover all the continents or most countries of the world. Others simply embark on daring journeys across forests such as the Amazon or to the Antarctica. Even women alone make such expeditions. Such long and breathtaking journeys need money. Most of those who finance their costly tours have accumulated enough savings to spare. But what is important here is that it is the paradigm shift in mentality that really drives them out of their cosy homes. Not all with even more money at their disposal will undertake such missions. The good news is that there are some sponsors to finance such ventures taken in order to promote a cause or raise awareness among the people about something very important.

So much for the more brave and daring who at times appear to have come from another planet. What about the average 'Bheto Bangalee' (rice-consuming Bangalee or it could be 'Bheetu Bangalee' ( Bangalees who are always afraid)! Can they take time out to satisfy their outdoor sojourn? The more home-bound are not accustomed to visiting places of their relatives in another village, towns and rarely cities. They have hardly any idea of what it takes to visit a historical site, a resort or a sea beach.

Notwithstanding the thrill, romance and daredevilry of paid tours, the environment of pure and innocent joy conjured up by Rabindranath in his poem, where the protagonists are none other than children, cannot be found anywhere in today's Bangladesh. The primeval innocence and simplicity of Nature is lost forever. Today the sun may smile through the clouds and the gloom of rains may as well be over but where is the screw pine flower and where is a 'tal deeghi' (a large pond with palm trees on its banks)?

Even the children of today have simply metamorphosed, leaving their innocence to become smart enough to handle gadgets instead of taking simple joy in making a boat out of screw pine leaves and adorning it with flowers. Even if they still had some wild fascination for Nature, their parents would not allow their kids to wander and indulge themselves in such 'useless distractions'. The elders would rather have them engaged in learning lessons. There, indeed, the elders have done the greatest disservice to the young generation. Childhood liberty has been snatched from them forever. Thus robbed of, children have now become robotic.

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