Sunday, June 27, 2010

Travails of a Lonely Traveller

I am sore. I have huge bruises on my arms and my neck and shoulders feel like I have been carrying boulders for the best part of two days. I am grumpy, irritated and sleepless. Recognise the symptoms? It is jet lag compounded by my first experience of travelling home alone from England.

So there I was in summery Falmer counting down days to my happy homecoming in rainy Kochi.
Every day, I added a little bit extra to my bulging suitcase. Not much, I figured, definitely not more than the weight limit allowed for students – a good 46 kgs. Now what didn’t penetrate through my thick skull is that I needed to be less worried about the permitted weight limit and more about how I was going to carry it all.  

The roads in the UK might be ideal for rolling suitcases, but unaffordable private transport means that you have to walk long distances lugging a 30 kilo suitcase, a 15 kilo backpack with your heavy laptop in it and a bulging ladies handbag that I positively couldn’t have made light.

And Uncle Murphy who made those weird laws, loves me a lot. So he ensured that he kept peeking over my shoulders throughout my trip to India.  For starters, I miscalculated the time required to walk downhill with the listed luggage towards the station. What is normally a 15 minute trek turned into a 25 minute painful progress. Barely  made the train to Brighton for the connecting one to London. I had forgotten to check if there was enough time between the two trains. So I had just 5 minutes to take my luggage out of the Brighton train and waddle towards the one headed to London.  

At London began the next ordeal. There was a tube strike on – typical of London public transport, but why on the day I was travelling. More delays. By the time I changed lines and got to Heathrow, I could feel my left hand threatening to drop off. The right one had a purplish bruise developing – I haven’t figured when I picked that up yet.  The Indian queues were as usual pretty pretty long. So by the time, I checked in my luggage and headed for security check, I was already late. 

London airports have become notoriously fancy about security checks. So despite  depositing all my lotions and potions in transparent plastic bags, I was one of the unfortunate few who had to stand silently as the security personnel sorted through my toiletries and laptop bag…Aaargh..more time the much praised Heathrow Dutyfree shopping experience mocked me as I rushed to the boarding gates.

A Heathrow-Mumbai-Kochi trip that begins at 9.30am, lands at a highly inconvenient 11.30 PM India time in Mumbai. Though my friends were on hand to help me while away some time, by 3.30 on Saturday morning, I was a grumpy grouch. The flight to Kochi was at 5.30AM, landing there about 7.15 in the morning. What are the chances that you land in Kerala on the day of a hartal? Pretty high. Thankfully, my ever reliable Dad was at hand to cut short the torture in my torturous journey home.  What would I do without him??

A journey spread roughly over two days – the pet peeves that my grumpy, tired and bruised body and mind has about the travails of UK-India travel…that’s episode two.


  1. How do you feel the jet lag? Feel at home finally? I hope the monsoon greets you very well...

  2. Analyst: Thanks..Jet lag normally leaves you drowsy and tired and the worst is when you are unable to sleep your tiredness off as it is not the sleeping hours your body has become acclimatised to. Moreover economy class travelling leaves your body knotted and sore adds to your woes.

  3. Welcome to the monsoon drenched, potholed, harthal struck Kochi! But nothing like home, eh?! Enjoy the rains with a hot chocolate drink and some hot spicy chilly bhaji...enough to keep your spirits up :)

  4. There is something about home that makes you forget all hardships...even if I travel to B'lore for 4's the 'home sweet home' cry as soon as I enter Nellore town.
    Welcome home!...Stay in bed and rest those tired bones...Drink 'Kaapi' made the Kerala way- strangely it never tastes the same away from home!

  5. I know it would be rude on my part to laugh at your ordeal but I couldn't stop myself.
    What do you expect, I am a bit of a sadist.
    Nice post by the way. Waiting for part 2. :)

  6. Hi RGB: Sounds like you are a Keralite too. There was so much empathy in the welcome..:) Amma's chaya with dosas..that's homecoming for me..Priceless...

    Nalini: Everything is sooo home...smells right, feels right...

    Prateek: Laugh away..:) To be honest, I would have too, if I were reading about your travails. Part 2 will come up soon..

  7. oh scared now..planning a trip back home. Will try not to make the mistakes u did :P
    Have fun.....

  8. LP: Seriously, I quake to think of making another trip. Can you imagine, I'm actually thinking of beginning to save from this day forward to be able to take a taxi from Brighton to Heathrow..:D

  9. That was funny, but I can empathise with your plight. i am always overloaded and end up breaking my arms too. Hope you are having a well-earned rest and comforts of home! Enjoy.:)

    I missed you on my blog :(

  10. I do know how that journey feels and have /some/ empathy / sympathy (not too much, University staff travel economy and we often have kilos of kit ...brochures and exhibition stands).
    For your return, try checking out:
    MUCH more convenient than the train.
    Or for "discount" taxi's try (still circa £80)

    BUT in the meantime, enjoy the warmth of home time and the familiar.

  11. Welcome back to India! I'm sure you're travel nightmares are a distant memory now.

  12. Zephyr: I yaaaam back..:) Wait for episode 2..

    John: Imagine what all I could do with 80 pounds...I would have had to take Heathrow direct pretty early at about 4 am, so I chose to leave for London a day early.

    Paul: The monsoons washed away the soreness..Heading to Bangalore next week..

  13. It happens. There is a saying in Hindi- When God gives, gives by tons! (Crude translation of 'Bhagwan jab deta hai to chappar phad ke deta hai!)

  14. haha! nice post and loved the reference to "uncle Murphy! good un!

  15. Magiceye: Thank you..:)

    S.R: So true, in my harassed mind, I often think it only happens to me, but I realise that Murphy's Law strikes even the ablest down..;)

    Whatsupdoc: :) Nice pseudonym you have there..Welcome to my blog..

  16. hi lonely traveller,

    nice travelogue...

    welcome to the land of mosquitoes...
    you will be a happy kid at god's own country with all the perils and still there is nothing in the world (i never travelled abroad) like home...

    kerala is inimitable...

  17. now just add a little sick four year old to the above. and that's exactly how it happened to me. smile now. someone always has a worse experience. Enjoying home cooked food? amma making you sambaar and fluffy hot idlis everyday? I want to cry now. ok? excuse me. :(

  18. Jyothi, the mosquitoes are modernising fast...they are so much more immune to any effort to kill them before they suck off all the blood..:)

    Apu: Awwww....don't cry..Can I courier some to you? Some yummy breakfast, homemade pickles and pappadams?? my journey was such a nightmare, i can imagine how it must have been with the little one.