It started out with wondering how travel would look in the post Covid world. Would virtual and interactive online tours become the new normal? Or could we put on smart glasses and travel like Johnny English with a few hard knocks and tumbles along the way?
It was then that I remembered the View-Master, my favourite toy from childhood, my own smart glasses if you please, that allowed me to see many sights and be part of many stories from the comfort of my bed. My father had bought the View-Master on one of his trips to Japan. My mum would guard it like the Grail Knight. Her grouse was that we kids (there were three of us) would fiddle with the slides, putting our grimy, mucky fingers all over them and she was worried the gadget would get ruined and she wouldn’t be able to fix it. So we were only allowed the View-Master as a treat on special occasions. When we did well in school or when we were unwell. While my older siblings weren’t particularly interested in the thing, they were outdoorsy children, I loved the View-Master. I actually looked forward to getting sick so that I could get it as a treat. Luckily, I fell ill a lot when I was a child as I had weak lungs and was prone to coughs and colds.
I called it কটাং কটাং (Kotang Kotang), because of the sound the trigger would make when you changed slides. I wish I could translate it but it’s just a word for the specific sound in Bengali. A clang clang if you will in English. Or a click click. You get the drift. All day long, I would watch slides. Babes in Toyland, Bambi, Prehistoric Monsters, Dinosaurs, Pyramids, Pagodas. My physical discomfort, raging fever all faded into insignificance when I was on these virtual tours into fantastic worlds.
I was just thinking of how much pleasure the little gadget brought me when I was ill. If virtual travel turned out to be something like that, it might prove to be a panacea for a lot of discomfort that we face from day to day. Covid included.
Facebook tells me that my septuagenarian mother has already signed onto a virtual trip to Jerusalem. Perhaps I will join her. After all, it’s only a trip to her bedroom – next to mine. I do wonder where the View-Master went though. I must ask her to look for it. I wouldn’t mind another go at it.