Posts Tagged ‘journey’

Two very different destinations

October 12, 2014

We pay a lot of homage
To success.
I’ve been watching a music video.
I see the packed halls;
I see the roaring cheers.
It makes me think about the road to this place, Success…
The gigs in small towns, the half-empty places,
The wondering if, after all,
One has the staying power
That, allied (or not) to talent
Could reach that elusive goal….Success.
The road that leads to Success
Can often curve, imperceptibly,
Into the blind alleys of Failure, too.
Success and Failure are like the two faces
Of Janus; one looking forward into the light,
The other, fading into the dimness, the darkness,
Of oblivion, sinking away into the numbers
That are described, in racing parlance,
As “also-rans”.
The efforts that lead to Failure
Are no less than those that fetch up at Success.
I feel for those who end up at the wrong destination….

The music video that brought this on:

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Bus ride from Goteborg to Linkoping, 150614

June 19, 2014

It was to be a 4-hour bus ride to get to Linkoping (by the way, the latter is pronounced lin-show-ping and the “shoping” is similar to the modern English “shopping”…there were markets which then grew into these towns/cities .)

I started with a prismatic tram-shelter seat as we waited to get to the Central Station:

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As we took the tram through Goteborg, to the central bus/train station, I saw some buildings.

I looked at what I felt must be an ancient water tower, and Google tells me that it is, indeed:

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An ancient church, probably..the solidity of those buildings!

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We approached the Central Station:

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It was a picture-postcard!

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Nearby was an hotel:

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As my bus left Goteborg, I didn’t know what this more modern tower was:

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Signs helped me know where we were headed:

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A town that we passed:

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Lovely to see the modern bus shelter and the ancient copper-covered cupola!

I realized that the Bus Gods must be appeased:

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This was in Jonkoping:

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Contrary to everything I’d heard, cars began to pile up (I counted more than forty in line!) at this traffic signal:

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We were travelling along the large Lake Vattern.

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Another beautiful spire:

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Our drivers were Mike, and Pia, reflected here:

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I saw windmills but didn’t tilt at them:

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Beautiful meadows sped past:

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We arrived in Linkoping:

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Ikea! I’ve always wanted to visit this place IN Sweden (I’ve visited in several other countries and cities).

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I was hoping to see the Gota Canal, but I only saw the sign.

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Fleecy clouds, pretty houses and green trees welcomed me:

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A very witty sculpture of a hoop, with a dog looking askance at it, was at one roundabout (if you look carefully, you can see the small dog.)

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The hoop itself was a marvel of balance!

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I passed “Biltema”, which my cyclist friend Prashanth Chengi, whom I met on LiveJournal, tells me is a cycle store:

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Prashanth just finished the cycling marathon of Sweden…the Vatternrundan, a 300-km ride around Lake Vattern!

A quick view of the Linkoping Cathedral:

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I hope to find out what this cigarette-lighter building is:

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Was this a planetarium or telescope? I couldn’t tell.

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I didn’t like these smokestacks quite so much!

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But at Linkoping Station and Bus Stand, my journey came to an end!

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Views from windows , 28 and 291013

October 31, 2013

What to do when stuck into a window seat on an airplane? Take photos…these are views of St.Louis, Atlanta, Paris, dusk, passing-over-Iran at night…

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St.Louis,slipping by beneath the wings:

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The mighty rivers of the mid-west:

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Sun shining on water:

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A bed of clouds…

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The Gateway Arch from right above…

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More…

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Downtown Atlanta:

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Paris:

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I don’t know what this futuristic building is:

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The mountains of Afghanistan:

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Journeys are said to end in lovers’ meetings, but sometimes they are difficult partings, too.

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Jet-lagged, and headachy, and trying to cheer myself up!

My experience with Air France is bad, but there are others who are worse off…

October 31, 2013

For several years now, I have taken Air France flights, and in that time, their service has deteriorated very sharply.

Let me explain why I am stuck with Air France. They are code-share partners with Delta. I have come to the point where, if I make one more trip to the US with Delta, I will get enough mileage for a return ticket. So…this time, too, I travelled AF for the Atlanta-Paris, Paris-Bangalore sector. I didn’t have the horrific experience that

this blogpost

t describes…but the service was atrocious, AF made their daily flight to Bangalore an alternate-days flight only without informing me. We found, when we went to the airport on Sun, Oct 27, that they had scheduled a 26-hour layover in Paris for me! Luckily, a 1.5 hour negotiation by my daughter, with the counter staff got me a reprieve, and I left St.Louis a day later, cutting my transit time in Paris down to 2 hours. Else, I too would be writing a blogpost like the one above!

The food was atrocious, the hot drinks tepid, the stewardesses VERY unhelpful,

As my flight was re-scheduled, the seats that I had reserved so carefully, well in advance, were all cancelled. I was told I would not even know what seat I’d got until I got to the departure gate, and naturally, I was allocated the worst possible seat on the aircraft on each leg. (middle seat on the wing in one, window seat on the wing on the next.) There were a couple of vacant seats but the stewardess and unhelpful fellow-passengers would not let me change. She was not inclined to listen at all. I was speaking in English, asking for another seat, and she kept telling me, “I don’t understand what you are saying!” Thankfully, a young girl took my middle seat on the Atlanta-Paris leg, and let me have the aisle seat so that I could at least get out and stretch my legs once in a while. I cocooned myself into the window seat on the Paris-Bangalore leg and watched movies…. I strongly recommend “The Heat” (English, starring,Sandra Bullock) and Jolly, LLB (Hindi, starring Arshad Warsi)…! Climbing out from the deteritus of a long flight…blankets, cutlery, headphones…across two other seats, to get to the toilet, is a feat of agility I am glad I am still able to perform.

The resultant tiredness and jet lag are with me now, more than 36 hours after I landed, half-dead, in Bangalore. I was so disoriented that I left the liquor and chocs that I bought in Bangalore duty-free, in the cab….I know that the cabbie is going to have a great Deepavali.

I strongly recommend everyone never to travel Air France! It seems to me that the stewardesses scorn all Economy Class passengers, and do their jobs as reluctantly as they can get away with. The ground staff are never available, either, it would be better to call them “underground” staff!

Packing….

July 21, 2011

Packing is, I find, a very idiosyncratic process. I think each of us has a different way of packing! My way is to try and get some space where I can leave my suitcases, and keep throwing things into it; and then, at a suitable time (which I keep postponing, alas) I sit down and pack it all in properly.

I was not, earlier, a very good packer; my suitcases would rather easily become “full”….but the plus was that the said suitcases were not very heavy. KM and were (are) excellent packers, but it would need a crane to lift a suitcase once they are done!

Over the years, I’ve learnt how to pack fragile things, to keep shoes at the base (spine) of the suitcase, to fill up hollow things with items of clothes, and so on…not to mention packing and repacking certain food items to prevent them from leaking all over the contents of the luggage (thankfully, a lesson I’ve not had to learn the hard way.)

I’ve learnt to keep a list by me (half my time is occupied by searching for the list!) and over the years, the list has also increased…things like laptop, power cord for laptop, camera, battery charger for camera, card reader for camera, and so on, were not there earlier! Electronic items seem to figure quite largely in hand luggage.I’ve learnt to use my computer bag as my personal handbag, on long-haul flights, along with one carry-on strolley.

The throwing away, at security, of several small scissors and, on one memorable occasion, my beloved tiny Swiss Army knife, have taught me to pack all nail clippers and scissors and safety pins in my check-in baggage. Safety pins, you ask? Yes. I was once upbraided on keeping these terrorist weapons in my carry-on baggage, and they were thrown out. Alas, I was, at the time, wearing a shawl around my head, pinned in place with two safety pins…they made it through that weird security check! Apparently I could terrorize the plane only with unused safety pins.

I’ve learnt to buy only suitcases with number locks, so that at international airport, after the security screening is done, I twirl the locks and secure my baggage against light-fingered handlers (oh yes, there are many, still!) When I am entering the US, or exiting it, I often still find a billet-doux from the TSA inside my luggage, their equivalent of “Kilroy was here”.

I’ve learnt to carry an empty water bottle along, and fill it up after the security checks, as on long flights, very often it takes the stewardesses a long time to fetch water, in cattle class. I’ve learnt to carry little snacks with me, as it’s not always possible to go to a snack bar and order something to eat in the interval between one connecting flight and another. (I remember an occasion when my daughter carried curd rice in her carry-on baggage from Portland, Maine…and when it was not allowed, she sat there in the security area, and ate it up, saying she was not going to waste such a precious thing!)

I’ve learnt that the size of luggage, and weight allowances, often depend not on strict rules, but on the discretion of the staff at the check-in counter. Sometimes harassment occurs, most often there isn’t any.

I am still extremely annoyed at some airlines charging for the second piece of luggage, and then charging by weight. Why should my 250-lb fellow-passenger be allowed the same weight of luggage as I am (110 lbs)? I am scared to write this as some airline official might be delighted to read this and spot and opportunity for even more charges!

I’ve learnt to use cabin baggage that just fits under the seat in front. On long flights, it’s often very comfortable to put my feet on the strolley, and stretch as much as I can, on the instrument of torture that an economy class passenger seat is.

here’s my take on aircraft seats in econonmy class

I’ve learnt to always buy wheeled luggage (yes, I belong to an era before it became de rigeur!) with strong handles. I’ve learnt to make friends with my luggage repair guy in Jayanagar 4th Block, and get non-wheeled strolleys “well-wheeled”! Yes, indeed I’ve become a “wheeler-dealer”…at least in terms of my luggage!

I’ve learnt to pack one change of clothes in my carry-on baggage, and a toothbrush, in case my case doesn’t arrive along with me (it’s happened several times, and thankfully, is happening less often.)

So…excuse me while I go and get stuffed…get my luggage stuffed, that is! A weekend in New York will be followed by a marathon journey to Chennai, and then back home…..hopefully, with my luggage.

Departure time is nearing…

April 17, 2009

People are calling and coming over and spending a lot of time with us as we prepare to leave. And…this is also a problem. Both of us love having the visitors, and we chat a lot, and the time spent with friends is very, every enjoyable…but when are we supposed to get our packing done?

I am still making lists of things to be packed rather than packing.

I have never gone away from home for as long a period as I am planning for now….so what I pack is rather crucial. There is some small stuff that is very essential to one’s comfort and that one just cannot get in the destination…so it had better not get left behind. (Eg I want to pack a lot of Hall’s mints because they are SO soothing for a sore throat, and I know of no equally good substitue in the US, which,anyway, would be pretty expensive! And medications MUST be bought here and taken…)

Packing just 15 kg in total is a kind of zen exercise; it shows me just how much I can actually live without. But still, I cannot jettison the rest. Just because I am packing only 2 silk sarees, doesn’t mean I can throw out the others!

But what to include in that 15 kg (how I long for the days when we used to travel Business Class…just three or four years ago, we had a 70 kg allowance on Business class, can you *imagine* that?) is another tortorous exercise. I like having a lot of things around me, alas…I like having the option of four pairs of footwear to choose from, for example…and I am forced not to have that luxury. If I leave something out, I cannot get it, and that fact looms large in my packing-planning.

I don’t want to either under- or over-pack, and it’s a tightrope to walk!

And while I pack, I look at my accumulate possessions.

Possessions…I think they tie one down, even as they give pleasure. But I am a pack rat and cannot throw anything away, and I am also not a cupboard-cleaner and organizer. So…both useful stuff, AND junk, accumulates….I have, for some time, been oppressed by the clutter that has piled up, but lack the will to jettison it all. (And I am worried that having got rid of it, I will want it again!)

It’s easier to do regular housekeeping from the outset; when stuff has piled up, the pile is so daunting that one puts off the pruning.

I want to get all my packing done, and do one last stint of birding, and soak in the beauty of Valley School, on Saturday morning…let’s see if that works out.

I really do NOT like going away for more than four weeks at a time, I realize! I think this is the first time in my life (after I went to my parents’ place to have my baby) that I have left home for such a long period.

All prospective burglars who are reading this, do come and clean out my home for me; it will save me the trouble and agonized decision making of “what to keep? what to throw out?”…

Off to Oosa for a while

January 12, 2008

I am off to Oosa for a while, and I hope the problem that is taking me there is satisfactorily resolved…but you have no hope, oh readers, because the minute I have some spare time over there, I will start blogging again….!

Next post could be from Blr or from Yumrika….I ought to be packing, not typing…but this is a 2min break from the feverish getting-ready-to-go-at-sudden-notice storm.

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…

December 5, 2006

Well…not quite…constipating our luggage with all the stuff (mainly stuff meant for, and asked for by, dd…darling daughter)is a difficult task.

Today I went to 9th block to get some more stuff and cursed myself for not getting the camera, because the Hanumath Jayanti (birthday of Hanuman) at the local temple was SUCH a colourful festivity, with so much junk being sold so attractively…. let’s see if I have time to do a sneak tomorrow morning!

Stuff is strewn around the 4 suitcases that we are allowed to take. With the new gel=gelignite rules, I have had to buy teensy-weensy containers for my moisturizer and contact lens solution…

We hate the idea of the actual journey, with friends giving us horror stories of London and Paris…we are taking a 2 day break in Dubai and it’s non-stop from there to JFK, thank goodness….but the thought of that aluminium tube for all those hours….WHEN can we just say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”??

The first visitor who came to bid us goodbye was welcome as a break, but the stream kept up till 10.30 pm….a three and a half hour break in packing ain’t too good!

We do this every year and every year we promise ourselves we are going to be far more organized next time…actually we ARE, it’s just that getting stuff into 4 suitcases is…tough! (poetry!!) More so this time when we are visiting New England in the dead winter…warm clothes bulk up those boxes! Also, attending a wedding means that some fine feathers have to be included. Feathers can sometimes be heavy…

One neighbout asked us if we had our Dharma underwear, he had heard that it was good for the extreme cold. Well, I certainly hope that my husband’s Dharma, underwear or not, will keep him on the straight and narrow!

Another friend offered us “emergency food”…delicious stuff that his wife makes…but how much of an emergency could I have, staying with family…unless I have a sudden fight with them and they kick me out into the cold?

Huh, turning the three-and-a-half hours into four…I am going back to the stuffing ceremony now!