The Intrepid Traveler

Temperature in Dallas finally hits the 50s. I’ve bought a new woolen cap to honor the moment (for as with all things cool, this too shall pass). I leave for New York tomorrow morning, where if Yahoo Weather is to be believed, temperatures are expected to be in the 70s the whole of next week. Isn’t that nice?

Yes, am being tiresome. After all, am off for a whole week, and away from Dallas, and in New York – I should count my manifold blessings. Problem is I loathe the run up to the whole leaving-town-process. Upon careful reflection, I realize that I:

a) love to see new places. Indeed at this point, any place other than Plano & Richardson, Texas will be regarded with the same awe as would Cairo, Istanbul, or Machu Picchu. Am not too hard to please.

b) not helped by the fact that places I plan to leave (Madras, Delhi, Dallas, Gurgaon – it doesn’t matter where) suddenly turn beautiful 24 hours before I’m due to leave. Relatives who never visit decide it’s time to visit. Malls go into deep discount mode. Friends who spend the rest of the year flitting from work to home get together for assorted adventures. (Just so they can tell me, “Oh, you’re never there when we do fun stuff.”) State Fairs with fat pigs set up shop for just the time when am gone. (Last year’s week end visit to New York caused me to miss seeing “the fattest pig in all of Texas.” A life long devotee of Lord Emsworth & the Empress of Blandings, I may never recover from the heart break)

c) don’t mind the journey itself, because am usually well stocked on books

d) abhor preparing for the journey (the endless packing & re-packing, the forced short-listing of books & music, the remembering to charge up a zillion electronic devices that I will not use, but nonetheless will NEED the minute the battery runs out, the remembering to write down all sorts of phone numbers, the remembering to wrap up tens of details at work, each more irritating that the other…Well, I just find all this “remembering” a rather draining experience)

e) am crushed by the day after the last day of the vacation

I did my first round of packing last night. With me, you see, there are always several rounds. When I start packing, I rarely remember that I’m traveling coach with hand-baggage only. I always start under the assumption that I will have a state-room, and an army of underlings to carry my baggage. That’s Round 1. Round 2 commences when I try to fit the stuff I’ve ‘set aside for the trip’ into a suitcase of any size. Rounds 2-5 consist of ranking aforementioned items in the order of their perceived importance, and discarding the once at the bottom of the list.

Round 6 is the same as rounds 2-5, but involves a greater degree of courage & determination as I force myself to pare down even more. Round 7, usually performed between 1/2 to 5 minutes before I leave home consists of stuffing back some of the items painfully discarded during earlier rounds because I’m still not entirely convinced I won’t desperately need them. The secret to the success of this round is the short time frame available – when am in a hurry, I don’t think. I stuff first, and reflect later. After all, I have a longish plane or train journey plus the rest of my life to regret my choosing to carry this heavy item or that.

As I mentioned, I’ve completed round 1. Every time I pack, I appreciate those immortal lines ‘And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep’ at a whole new level.

But, packing isn’t all bad. For instance, to my very great joy, I realized that I do not possess enough sweaters (I was told by a friend in New York to bring some). I only have 3 serviceable* ones, and 3 are clearly NOT enough for any soul. Even my Mom would agree. It’s a marvelous feeling to have objective evidence to support the claim that one has no clothes. Will remedy the shortage immediately upon return, or perhaps when I’m in New York.

Packing is also an adventure of discovery, equivalent to a minor scale moving experience, as it were. Last night I found myself repeatedly experiencing a sense of wonder, and suitably expressed these sentiments with “Wow! I bought that? When?”, “I can still fit into that? Oh Joy! There is a God, after all!”, “So this is where you’ve been hiding!” and so on.

But all the dubious delights in the world don’t take away the fact that my vacation will end. Before I can say “I am so glad to be away from work”, I’ll be right back… at the same desk, with the same inspiring view of Taco Bell, tapping away at the same damn keyboard. How cynical do you have to be to mourn the completion of your vacation even before you start it?

Note to self: Use vacation to acquire a more cheerful outlook on life.

* serviceable as per the definition according to DoZ, not OED or MOM (both well known for their exacting and rather narrow definitions of objects, emotions & experiences).**

**What did you expect?


5 comments so far

  1. Karthik on

    You have a view of Taco Bell at work? A cubicle (or *gasp* an office?) with a window? Holy cow, are you a CEO that blogs on the side to taunt people?

  2. Veena on

    How cynical do you have to be to mourn your vacation before you start it? Way less than cynical than me. When I started planning my Peru vacation last winter, I also mourned the fact that I would probably never plan a Peru vacation once my vacation was over.

  3. meditativerose on

    umm .. so you are hoping to acquire a more cheerful outlook on life while in NY? Don’t think they sell those in Barney’s … 😉

  4. DoZ on

    Karthik: yes – it is an office (that I share with three other colleauges). I won’t brag any more.
    Veena: I thought I’d hit rock bottom… To find out there are greater depths one can sink to is at once reassuring & depressing…
    MR: A week in New York is just what my batteries need. The weather’s gloomy. On my first day here, I got drenched in the rain, almost stranded in the subway (trains weren’t running as per schedule in honor of the weekend), & was hungry to boot. If this doesn’t make Dallas look like Eden by comparison, I don’t know what will…

  5. prash on

    ah, reminded me pleasantly of an episode from jkj’s hilarious ‘three men in a boat’.

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