I was on vacation for about 10 days, but it felt like nothing like a break for the most part. Welcome to the Age of Anxiety.
Most people would blame COVID, but I think COVID is just a symptom. If COVID weren't around, it would be the extreme weather. If the extreme weather weren't around, it would be inflation. If inflation weren't around, it would be some fatal millennial upbringing flaw. The list goes on.
I was excited for this trip. I had everything planned and packed. I had activities lined up. I spent the night before the trip frantically loading up my phone with audiobooks and music. "Nine days!", I told myself, "I need content for nine days!". I couldn't wait to start The Gospel of Loki, The Saga of Recluce, The Mistborn series. Yet, at the airport, or in the long cab ride, or even when I hit the bed at night, I just couldn't focus on the content. My mind was too clouded to focus on plots.
I guess it didn't help that I was hopping to multiple places. But even with a solid 4 days in the quaint Udupi city, I was too antsy to decompress. Just a few years ago, I would've "plugged into" content as soon as I entered the hotel room and set up wifi. Here, I was struggling to even care about unlocking my phone. Instead, I was watching some lame TV show rerun, and I wasn't even paying attention to that.
On vacation, I'm a "hotel surfer". Most people travel to see places. I unabashedly travel to experience hotels. This trip had the choiciest hotel rooms yet. I even put in requests for rooms on high floors with a good view, much to the frustration of some hotel staff having to rework their planned allotments Yet, my music queue and audiobooks remain unplayed.
The long cab rides were soothing though. Coastal and interior Mangalore are a treat during the monsoons. With North Goa changing for the worse in recent years, thanks to the influx of post-COVID internal tourists discovering its scenic beauty, Mangalore and Udupi are great destinations for beach heads. What helps me specifically is, people in Mangalore are more receptive to Hindi and English than most other places in the South. There are pockets in Mangalore and Udupi where Konkani (my native language) works, and it's delightful when a shopkeeper switches to Konkani when he realizes you speak it too.
About 15 years ago, I could speak in "loosely compatible" Konkani to a steward in Goa. Now it's all Hindi. That "erasure of local culture" breaks my heart a little. In Mangalore, my dialect of Konkani is often the shopkeepers native language. It feels like home. Some neighbourhoods in Udupi go a step further, so when you enter a shop, even other customers converse in Konkani. Language and culture are absolutely not reasons to find another vacation destination though, especially for a self-confessed "hotel surfer" who only ever interacts with hotel staff. Both, north and south Goa have undergone transformations to cater to a greater influx of domestic tourists. That's a good thing for a locals, helping them tide over the loss of revenue from a drop in overseas tourists. However, any place receiving that large a volume of tourists is going to see a sharp deterioration in facilities and service, and greater upkeep costs. Anyhoo.
Before embarking on this trip, the last thing I was working on was a ASP .NET Framework MVC project using Entity Framework. When I first poked at it, I thought, at least this project is in C#, the language that started the cool async...await semantics that saw such wide adoption in other languages – must be a joy to work with async stuff. NOPE. What followed was a series of frustrations on how scripting platforms (node.js, python) and Java got it right. Intuition from other languages doesn't work here. Some major surprises came by the way of thread-safety when using Entity Framework, how the ease of writing ORM query code (that translated to SQL queries) led to tonnes of repeated wasteful querying, and how lambda argument passing (Func<> and Action<>) was generally underused in codebases. Even some framework I/O code was effectively synchronous under the hood (the one below isn't a good example of that).
Using Visual Studio (CE) too is frustrating for someone who's used to VS Code. Little things like how Comment/Uncomment and Find/Replace is so simple and good with VS Code feels frustrating in VS.
So yes, I had things stuck in my mind. I'm usually OCD about problems I'm stuck on. I just have to get the fix or an understanding of the fix out of my system before I can relax. In this case, I wrote a bunch of code, slept over it, then realized the code change wouldn't work for a larger use-case, and had to ditch the whole plan. Arrrgh.
I think we're living in a heightened sense of "now". We're starting to see downsides to the "living in the moment" philosophy. The intense focus on starting/making/doing something meaningful with your time now is accompanied by immense pressure to "make it work". In our post-COVID world, where virtually everyone had their throats on fire for a few days and absorbed the pain like a near-death experience, there's a heightened sense of life being short. Although you have record high inflation and flight ticket prices, people are still holidaying. I suspect this inflation season we're going to see my generation deviate from previous generations on exactly how we hunker down our spends. While my generation will likely cut down most discretionary spends, travel and tech will likely remain strong outliers.