The formula of my life has changed.
(Kid 1 + Kid 2 * Grade 12 = Gone for Undergrad ) * 4 years = Empty Nest.
There fore Empty Nest * What to do? + Work on automation = Travel.
There fore Travel * Travel= Travel (2)
Therefore Travel (2) * Packing + Shopping = Crisis.
I have never packed in my life. Ever! Well except for this once, when I was returning back from my course in London, after 3 months. The husband does it for me. I pull out all that I need to carry, and leave it on the sofa. He comes in and sweetly packs it all in and asks if I have anything left out. Yes! I agree! He is adorable. When we were newly married, I, like all good wives, offered to pack. Sometime later I heard him clearing his throat, trying to find a way to tell me to buzz off! I think I was a bit offended then, but trust me, now it’s a sacred pact between us. I shop, he packs.
The one time I had to pack all on my poor own, was when I was returning back home after 3 months. And as the date to depart neared I was horrified and biting my nails in desperation. I had not packed a bag for a 2 day holiday, and now here was 3 months worth of luggage, equipment, shoes etc staring accusingly at my face. Needless to say, I almost cried but managed. Of course the bag looked like it had just about survived a war. Things were caught between the zipper. The bag looked pregnant and like it had jumped out of a comic book. And then it was over weight, and I had to pay excess. I have sworn throughout the flight at them check in women! The husband did not catch even a glimpse of the bag until it was unpacked.
A cousin was traveling abroad, from school. I happened to be visiting them, and there was a lot of excitement around her packing. She was allowed to carry only 1 bag, and the well meaning mom had packed in some food too. The bag was filled in and emptied out approximately 4 times ,by 5 different people, amidst sighs and growls. Finally her grandfather came in, cleared everybody out and proceeded to pack. When my cousin saw the bag, she was sure he had left out almost half the things, because no way was the bag going to look so happy and non explosive. It should have been bursting at the seams. She went back to check, but everything seemed to be in the bag. We were all, marveling at his dexterity and engineering skills. She told me later, that when she had to repack it for her return journey, she was in tears. Because there was no way anyone could replicate what he had done. She had to buy a handbag and carry it in the cabin, AND leave some stuff back.
Recently on our return journey, there was a huge back up for check in. We went into the next counter and asked them to help us out, and just as well or we would have been left behind, not just our scheduled flight, but I think even the next one. There was this man from Qatar, (we peeked at this passport cover!) So – man, 1 wife (thank god. For after you read this, even you will agree that a second one would have given him angina pains that day!) 4 kids, 2 maids and, get this – 21 pieces of large sized luggage and 4 cabin bags. I heard the wife, ask him if she could go and sit on the chairs with the kids (age 3 to 8) and he waved her off. Every single piece of luggage was over weight. He would weigh one bag, find it over weight (this airline will charge you for an extra bag, but no bag can be over weight) and his maids would proceed to pull out random things from the bag and stuff it into another bag. Once the weight reduced it would go through, but the next bag would be over weight. Again the maids would pull out stuff and shove it into the next bag. Then that would be over weight. And the saga continued. And the man patiently handled every single bag. I must say, only, on this one observation, that the woman was one of the luckiest I have ever seen. I still want to know if the check in guy, just gave up and let it go, or he painfully, went through the entire procedure. I also want to know, how much that last bag finally weighed, after all the – passing – the – excess – into – another bag; finished.
The husband packs really light. I could never make up my mind and carried way more than I wanted to. One day we had to change trains, therefore change platforms, therefore run down and up 3 flights of stairs, all the while pulling that heavy bag. I yanked my shoulders so badly, that I had to visit a chemist for a pain killer, even before we checked into our hotel.
Now we travel light, but come back a wee bit heavier. I separate from the husband when we reach the customs, because the cheeky man always carries back more alcohol than he is supposed to!