Friday, February 09, 2007

There and Back Again - Part 10

The last few days of any trip to India are usually full of quick visits to friends and family that you were not able to meet earlier. You visit for a few days and in that time you try to maximize your visits with as many people and places as you can. Add to that the shopping and all, and you've got a busy schedule. This trip was particularly hectic because we ended up going to so many places that by the time I got caught up from my jet lag it was time to move to another time zone. Still, being away from home makes you realize just how much you miss it and all the things you associate with home. It makes you appreciate those things all the more.

Just as the journey to India can seem almost interminable with hours long flights followed by hours waiting in airports and security followed by another hours long flight and finally immigration and customs before getting your bags before going home. At the end of vacation you look forward to doing it all again. For me there is a certain giddiness that comes from the prospect of travel. I enjoy road travel but I enjoy air travel just as much. It's not so much fun when you're stuck next to someone who occupies their seat as well as some of yours, but still, those are part of what make the journey so memorable. For every time you have been stuck next to someone bad, you will always end up spending as much time next to someone you'll enjoy being next to. You never know what conversations can be struck up or what commonalities you may have.

Coming home this time was an experience; Dad and I returned alone since Mom and my brother were spending an extra week in India. One thing I have learned from my immediate family is the fine art of punctuality. Planning things mentally so as to depart and arrive as expected with little muss and fuss. On the night we were leaving to come home we enjoyed the third game of the India-West Indies Cricket match. As the game progressed, we got dressed and had dinner and got ready to leave. Bags packed we made for the airport. Night flights in Bombay are particularly crowded because most international flights depart from there at that time. We arrived early enough to account for the forty extra minutes we ended up spending to get our bags scanned and checked in.

One thing I'll say about some of my fellow passengers; they will often pretend ignorance to get bags through on weight restrictions or size restrictions or contents restrictions. For example, I ended up getting detained nearly an extra twenty minutes in London because after having my bags scanned and pulled aside for hand inspection (my CD player looked a bit suspicious). I had already been through the line for forty minutes so I was a bit eager to get through but I try never to annoy the security guards so I waited patiently. Holding me up was a family who was having their hand luggage scanned over and over again before being hand checked over and over again. They were apparently seeing some scissors in the bags which were not permitted (for obvious reasons). Enter in the ignorance; the elderly mother accused the elderly father who in tern accused the middle-aged son who then started the circle again by going after the mother.

They all continually pled ignorance of the scissors until finally they were found in a sealed envelope inside an inside pocket in the hand bag. Then it was on to the laptop bag. For an hour I had heard exhortations by the airport security people to remove all liquids and gels from my bags. The people in front of me were also subjected to the same request. As soon as the laptop bag they carried was put through, they discovered two airplane bottles of wine, juice, yogurt, mineral water and such all stuffed in their. The airport folks were livid but the family again claimed ignorance and said that the airline had given it to them. After twenty minutes they were finally made to pack their bags and then within two minutes I was checked and sent on my merry way. Little things like this make your journey a bit aggravating but I can definitely say that I will remember that particular trip through London.

Coming home is the best part of the trip. I tried to get some sleep on the second leg of the journey to no avail. I listened to some music, read for a little bit and watched some movies. One of the vast improvements these days is that the airlines have almost all incorporated the seatback entertainment systems which make long distance travel a bit more tolerable. Watching the map I felt a wave of happiness pass over me as we entered North American airspace. Coming down from Maine, New York and Pennsylvania before finally passing over my native Maryland into Virginia. The last half hour seemed to fly by and it was back home again. The passage through customs on this side was so much more.... sterile. The whole process reeks of solemnity and seriousness. I guess it's part of the way to scare potential troublemakers. For me it was one of the last parts of the journey before finally getting home.

I have enjoyed every trip I have made to India. Whether to visit the sites and cities or to spend time with family members, it has always been an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. But still, a small part of me is always missing home. Having been born and brought up in the United States, I am an American and as such my lifestyle has been American as well. People reading my blogs on my trip to India may think that I am criticizing India or that I am putting down the people, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I am simply expressing my opinions as an outsider. Whether those opinions are right or wrong is up to you to decide, but they are my opinions and I have expressed them in the way I see fit. The most important opinion and the one that I'm sure most everyone will agree with is that there's no place like home.



At 8:14 PM, Blogger Perry said...

Regarding the Trenton girls...

The superintendent needs to take a week off with a Costo-size box of laxatives and a copy of “Sense of Humor for Dummies.”

I mean, we have teenage drug dealers and gang-bangers getting slapped on the wrist (or totally ignored) but…BY GUM we’re gonna make an example of these two!

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