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  • The perils of modern travel

    Some time ago, a friend told me that you need a holiday after a holiday. How true. We have just returned from a five-week marvelous holiday in the United Kingdom and India, but we can now feel the tiredness and exhaustion of traveling. The accumulated jet leg can really wear you down.

    We always vow to travel as lightly as possible, but this time our travel destinations needed summer and winter clothing, which meant that we had to pack sweaters and sweatshirts for one season and T-shirts and shorts for another. Our footwear also comprised of runners and sandles.

    At the beginning, one is excited about traveling oversea, but it’s a different story when you arrive at the airport. The huge line-ups when checking-in your baggages can be unnerving. Then comes security procedure, which are tighter, stricter, and time consuming. Security at the White House is less strict than at airports.

    Authorities in India are super sensitive about security because of the bombing incident in Taj Hotel in Mumbai in 2008. Airport security checks each passenger two to three time starting from when you enter the airport building till you board the plane. Even five-star hotels are not exempted. Every day, hotel guests are scrutinized as if everyone was a prospective terrorist. First all incoming vehicles are screened by opening the bonnet and passing mirrors underneath for any potential bombs. At the entrance, all personal effects such as handbags and anything else that you carry has to go through the scanners.

    Like any other tourists, we bought things for ourselves and presents for family members. We quickly found out that our suitcases won’t be able to take the additional things, so we had to buy another suitcase in a hurry. When we boarded the flight home, we were quickly told that we were overweight and that the airline will have to charge us for that. After some discussion, the airline manager was called and she waived the charges.

    It’s another story when you arrive at your destination. The first challenge is to collect your luggage from the carousal. Most bags are black and they all look alike. Try to identify your luggage from the mountains of bags going so fast on the carousal. By the time you push and shove everyone to go in front of the people standing before you, the bag you think is yours is gone fast past you. Wait for what appears to be another hour before it reappears before you.

    At one of the airports in India, we had to wait what appeared to be eternity for the carousal to start as passengers from an earlier flight were still sorting out their luggage. Beats me why instead of starting another nearby carousal, airport officials waited to use the same carousal for our flight.

    When we arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport from Mumbai, India, we had to wait for hours for the luggage to arrive and when it did, there was a mad rush to secure the bags. In the rush to get my bags, I forgot my duty free liquor that I had bought as presents to relatives in London. Someone who obtained my best Scotch was smilingly saying, “Cheers” while I was kicking myself in the rear.

    The sad part after traveling is when your VISA bills start coming. I am now busy paying the mounting VISA bills that I incurred while “enjoying” my vacation. Ah, the joys and perils of travel.