10 Original Ways to Fake a Vacay

10 Original Ways to Fake a Vacay
Envy these Japanese macaques? Take your own onsen-inspired baths ,

A new coronavirus strain is in town, you heard? Lockdowns are being implemented, again. So here are 10 solid tricks to fake it until we make it

Prannay Pathak
December 23 , 2020
14 Min Read

Lockdown or no lockdown, those who can’t do without travel will always find a way to feel the thrum of travel. Those into reading will hunt down old guidebooks in dusty shops selling vintage titles at per-kilo rates. The social-media savvy will sign up for virtual tours and the more hands-on will simply embark on nightlong vlog binges on YouTube.

Some real crazy ones like me will even try to have a barebones shack installed on their terraces to work from the ‘beach’ or play sounds of different cities all day long as ambient music. Really, we won’t stop at anything. Voyeurs may pry into others’ windows; we look outside of them—of windows all around the world.

A novel strain of the what used to be the novel coronavirus has sabotaged the arrival of glad tidings of great joy, shutting down Christmas and New Year celebrations in major cities of the world. Naturally, we—the self-appointed representatives of those who can’t do without travel—were bothered, and rounded up a guide on how to bring a place home if you can’t travel to it. Here is a little something on how to fake it until you make it. Let the games begin. 

Kashmir through the Kahwa

 
 
 
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If you’re even remotely into Kashmiri culture and food, you definitely have had their kahwa (noon chai is still a distant acquired taste, we know). But if you are going to pretend that you’re in Kashmir, watching its beautiful winter unfold from inside a shikara, at least be authentic and drink it from a samovar? Get your pherans out and let it brew while you call up your loved ones over to learn some Kashmiri together—Gyawun YouTube has great video tutorials

Can-Do Kyoto
The pretty former Japanese capital may not be too keen on admitting tourists like earlier yet, so there’s all the more reason to invoke Kyoto sitting at home. And enjoying some nice matcha tea (do let us know if you get your way around kaiseki) as you unwind in an onsen-style bath, is a nice start. You may not be close to an actual spring-water source but the activity is a lot about performance.
Bring home the calming relaxation of an onsen bath
Get a wooden stool to sit on as you scrub your body gently and heat water to a temperature slightly higher than your usual number (exercise caution though). Add onsen salts (order them online) to it and light up some Japanese incense at the side, and step into the water. For the complete feel, get a yukata and slip into it after the bath. Here’s a quick guide on Japanese bathhouse etiquette that we did. Oh, and the Japanese do them at the end of the day.

Pulling a Slingapore
We lost our shit when Singapore’s hawker culture was recently awarded UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage status. And truly, if we were to vacation there right now, we would head straight for Chinatown to devour the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal. But what if you could make it at home? We can’t say if it’ll be the same but trying is totally worth it, and here’s the recipe. While you’re at it, why not whip some pulled tea? You just need steeped black tea, condensed and evaporated milk, a pouring vessel with a curved lip and half-decent kitchen chops. Practise with water before you show off your skills to your guests, though, and remember: no more than five pulls or you’ll turn it tepid. If you can get your hands on Angosutra’s aromatic bitters, you can even fix yourself some workable Singapore Sling. An Instagram comment even suggested cranking up the humidifier.

 
 
 
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Camping around India
Rishikesh, Jaisalmer, Kanatal, Solang Valley—this one’s about no particular destination. Backyard camping, you see, is a great antidote to fernweh. With the way retailers and eCommerce giants have democratised sporting and adventure travel gear, casually stepping out for a camping tents shouldn’t be too much of an ask. Just pitch and switch the vacation mode on. You know what’d be even more fun? Throwing these unconventional camping accessories into the mix. Read books about adventure, make omelettes and do campfire dinners, have coffee out of thermos flasks and play ambient nature sounds. What’s not to like? 

Holidaying with Hygge

 
 
 
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The hygge phenomenon has really caught on in the recent years, much to the annoyance of a lot of us. But come to think of it—hygge sounds entirely different in the winter. The warm glow of a candle, happy, flushing, cashmere-wearing people snuggling by the fireplace, melt-in-the-mouth desserts, tea and flannel blankets—you don’t really need to be in Denmark to do the hygge. But to be more specific, here are ten amazing hygge-themed holiday ideas for the soul. 

Swoon over Greek Gardens
White plastered walls, bougainvillea and pastel furniture: the keys to a faux-Greek garden
What gets the Hellenes through hot Mediterranean weather could be a nice option for the cold months of the Coronavirus. It’s something of an undertaking but you’ll be surprised how cool faux-plastering and whitewashing your garden wall will prove to be (tutorial in the video below). Make a trip to the neighbourhood nursery and bring home some succulents, a few terracotta pots of bougainvillea, won’t ya? The ideal plants to keep in a garden for an extended fakay would be crape myrtle, oregano, cyprus, lavender and sage. You don’t really have to bother with a pergola but we just wanted to put the idea in your head.

Read: It's Greek to Us

London Dreams
The London winter, they say, is not for everyone. The days are much shorter and it pours and pours. But that also means its citizens have marvellous ways up their sleeves to muster as much warmth as can be managed in such hard times. Mulled wine, which the city’s pubs have been serving as part of their takeaway service, is one of them. Watch Gordon Ramsay make it or simply refer to the following video for the doable version:

Mince pies are also a London tradition. Also, when in lockdown, do as the Londoners do—watch the National Theatre’s pantomime show Dick Whittington on YouTube (December 23 to 27) and Donmar Warehouse’s Looking a Lot Like Christmas (till January 5). Or play Bingo with your gang if you’re looking to get away from screens. 

Indoor Stargazing
We can’t get you Nubra, Spiti or the Rann of Kutch this year (unless you live there, in which case you don’t need us). But might we suggest looking up at their skies instead? Stellarium is a free platform that can help you stargaze sitting upright (or maybe lying tucked in with the eyeline below your device’s level) based on where you’re located or would like to be.
The Stellarium interface
For guided observing sessions taken by astrophysicists, head for the much more esoteric Virtual Telescope Project. Invite a friend over and if they don’t think it too creepy, just pitch a little tent in the middle of your room and gaze away. Trust us, you wouldn’t need flashlights or bug spray this way.

Read: Stargazing in the Hills 

Do Gadbad as you would in Gokarna
The coastal hamlet that’s transformed into a happening New Year’s party destination is also a hub of some delicious Canara grub. Pick a sunny day to drown in the balmy sunshine reading Sue Townsend or effect some cool body art over your pals’ backs. If you’re the active type, try hula hooping—the latter’s all over the internet ever since Eshna Kutty broke it with her #SareeFlow videos. And when the day is done, rush in to make delicious gadbad ice cream to make up for the bad tattoos. And remember the highball glasses.

 
 
 
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Christmas Turkey
It's time you stopped walking past crafts stalls selling mosaic lamps
Half of the time, my mental image of Turkey is the Turkish ice cream (might be the gadbad effect too, because it actually is the Hagia Sophia and Orhan Pamuk). The other half it's the country's gorgeous architecture. And you can get a feel of it in the great indoors as well with just the right balance of kitsch and colour. Look for accents such as Persian-style ceramic wall plates, wall decals, copper vessels and ceramic bowls with floral motifs. Also, time to stop just walking past festive craft stalls selling mosaic lamps. And when you’re done—don’t forget a hanging studded with the famous evil eye! Also, getting Iznik tiles might be going a little overboard, so one good idea is to print the patterns out and use them as décor.

Read: Eat Like a Local: A Turkish Delight

McLo Shenanigans
While Delhiites can always go café-hopping and souvenir-shopping in Majnu ka Tila, Delhi’s not-so-secret-anymore little Tibetan settlement that has its own monastery, a Buddhist temple, countless shops selling woollens, herbal products, trinkets, and cafés and shops dishing out lip-smacking laphing and dried cheese—others, too, can get a feel of their beloved McLo.

 
 
 
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Just deck up your shelves with Tibetan prayer flags and put up fairy lights on the windows. Switch off the main lights and help yourself to a film from this year’s picks screened at the online Dharamshala International Film Festival. Their films are now available to stream at the festival website. And don’t forget to sip on some comforting butter tea.


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