Let’s go picnic!

- Kartika Yadav

Eating delicious food outdoors has always been a pleasurable experience for people since generations. The picnicking culture now seems to be fading away though, with less time spent between family members immersed in work or the new age ways of keeping oneself occupied with gadgets.

Picnicking once began in the form of “medieval hunting feasts”, “Renaissance-era country banquets”, and garden parties, and later took a more leisurely form. Mainly family-oriented, picnics have been an intimate or even a large get-together of people. En plein air dining (eating outdoors) can be a source of entertainment for the family and it’s cosmopolitan.

The old fashioned picnic days now seem to have dissipated, with time and the technological advancement it has brought. Families used to get together for picnics and go on long trips. It was a way of connectivity that broke the monotonous hustle and bustle of urban life. Going for picnics has become a rare occasion and bringing the culture back doesn’t seem that out of context, considering a lot of people are getting gripped by diseases that relate to not having enough movement in life i.e. exercise.

There were a lot of reasons why going for picnics was anticipated with much enthusiasm and vigor. For instance,
A way to bond: Picnics have always been a great way to bond with each other where family members share their life happenings and events both funny and important to them. Spending time together and having fun is never boring.

Getting together of relatives: Eastern culture is all about joint families, sharing traditions, fostering relationships. Distant relatives and cousins could all meet up and have a good time while picnicking together.

Being outdoors is invigorating and necessary for good health: Being out in the open air, amidst nature and savoring food delights is not only enriching but quintessential for sound health. It helps us breathe in fresh oxygen and loosen up our muscles that had been gripped tight with the daily humdrum of life.

Healthy eating:
Cooking food or taking sandwiches and other food fingers is a lot healthier than opting for restaurants. We know what’s being cooked and delivered.

Economical compared to going to restaurants and eateries: Going on picnics can save a lot of money than we spend on eating in fancy restaurants. It can be a low budget and high quality option to go for. Preparing food in the picnic spots can be really fun too. Picnics are combined with a cookout and huge dishes are needed to cook food for everyone. Carrying the cooking pot, barbeque grill, and ladles, and making food for oneself can be a fulfilling experience. Children can not only learn to cooperate but have a sense of selflessness about it all when engaged in group activities.

Joy of reaching the picnic destination is also something to reckon: People travel to that place, exhausted and anticipating, and when they finally reach it, all the tiredness just evaporates away, and zeal to have a good time with the family takes over.

Go hiking, walking or biking: We usually go for these activities with our friends rather than with our families. But it can actually be fun to do so. We get to understand each other well and general perspectives after riding or walking together. Walking through the woods and being with nature can be a fulfilling experience.

Watch or make your own family movies: It’s been a while since those old family shots or movies parents made of their babies have been seen. Self-shots seem to have taken over but it’s always a joy to see family movies. Watching our tiny selves muttering illegible words can be a ‘trip down memory lane’.

Go for a picnic: Pack some lunch like sandwiches, or cook some food on the picnic spot. Take a blanket to lie on the ground, enjoy the delicacies you made, and relax. It’s important to let go of the stress every once in a while and this can be relieving. Picnicking seems to be a culture that might be flickering today. It can get back, though in its full, bright light, as coming together and celebrating has always been a social norm and lifestyle of people around the world.

These days, however, the age-old family tradition of going on picnics is slowly disappearing. Technological advancements and outreach of devices like mobile phones, television, and social networking sites have led to people, especially the younger generation, spend more time indoors. The family has lesser time for each other than before and it seems like having dinner is something of an occasion. Kids, busy with their play stations and Xboxes, and parents fixated on their jobs for better economical situations are all that’s in mind. Except for major holidays, like Dashain and Tihar for Hindus, Ramadan for Muslims, and so forth, families rarely have time to get together.

The development of modern technologies seems to have had an impact on the way family members interact and socialize. The use of the internet and the amount of time spent on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace consumes a lot of the kids’ time. Web-connected gadgets seem to have a lot of functions and the world is somehow wrapped around that these days. Texting while having dinner, or watching TV, have become a non-issue. The focus and quality of time we spend with our family seems to be degrading.

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