01/01/2011 – Leaving London
Still feeling rough from last nights gathering, I have a quick tidy up of all the cans and bottles in the kitchen. The brunt of it was sorted last night after I bid farewell to my friends around 2am as they continued to celebrate the end of 2010 at some houseparty in Queen’s Park, while I did the wise thing and stayed up into the early hours packing and repacking my bag, half cut and half asleep. Of course, doing what I should have already done ages ago.
I’ve not done much preparation since booking my 4-month around the world trip in November, and I only just picked up my malaria tablets, Christmas Eve to be exact. Like I just said, this bag has been packed and repacked multiple times. This is purely down to paranoia. I’m packing light and taking a small backpack, the kind that is more accustomed to small trips and music festivals as opposed to long haul marathons around the world. It is for this reason that I’ve gone through it with a fine toothcomb to ensure no contraband from its hedonistic past is still lurking away in one of its many pockets and compartments. My Auntie, who backpacked around Thailand in the early 1990’s, came round last night to wish me luck and to remind me about the perils of drug possession out there. She was once in a bar in Chiang Mai, only a few miles from its notorious prison, where on the wall were several letters from it’s foreign inhabitants, many of whom were British and Australian. They were loaded with words of wisdom and cautious tales of the pit falls of drug handling in this region. Many of the authors were severing sentences in excess of 90 years. In addition to their advice, they would also ask the reading traveller to come and visit them. Or at least write. This backpack has seen some crazy, crazy, crazy nights that even Kiss themselves would deem excessive, and so I don’t want to run the risk of crossing international borders with its past life. Hence what may appear an irrational obsession to check the bag several times over before packing in my line-up of clothes.
I finally get to sleep around 4am, only to be up again at 6am as Dad gives me a lift to the airport.
On the way to the airport I realise that I’ve forgotten to set up an automated “out of office” reply on my work email account. Oh well, not sure it really matters as I don’t often receive that many personal emails anyways and you don’t need to reply to the Global Markets Weekly Newsletter. As one colleague said to me at the office Christmas party a few weeks back “You’re taking your Leave of Absence so soon?” arching his eyebrows incredulously while straightening the thick black rim glasses on his nose “Well, I suppose it’s not a bad time, after all the company is not going to miss you very much, considering your lack of experience and current skill set”. He’s totally right of course and it is for this reason I’m not going to worry any further about setting up an automated reply to the future’s correspondence.
But what about a Facebook status update, just to let everybody I won’t be around? Anybody who doesn’t know of my trip isn’t really worth worrying about. So that’s that sorted. Also I’ve never been one to brag. It’s a recession after all, and not everybody can afford to take four months off to circumnavigate the globe. It’s a shame Helena Bateman from my primary school didn’t have the same level of subtle consideration when she decided to let the world know she was going Spain for a week with “Magaluf = sun, sea and cocccckkkkkktails!!!! Jealous much, Biatchesssss!!!!!” Plus it’s a bit reckless letting everybody know I’ll be out of the country for an extended period of time. I’m not sure if it would breach my home insurance policy, but I wouldn’t be stopping too short of asking to be burgled. “If anybody is interested, Helena Bateman’s Flat (25a King’s Street) looks like the inside of an Apple shop, it’s got that many gadgets and expensive equipment, though unfortunately the place lies empty for the next week” – could be an idea for a status.
Getting on the Mumbai-bound flight wasn’t a problem. The fact that I had curry for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner was. “Of course, you are going to have curry on Jet Airways: it’s an Indian airline, you’re on an India bound flight and it’s their national dish” I heard a culturally embracing woman say to her husband behind me. No you stupid woman, they’re all the reasons why they shouldn’t be serving curry on this flight. When you’re heading to a country, the first thing you should be thinking of when you land is where to satisfy that craving need for real traditional local food that you’ve been dreaming of since you left the travel agents clutching your confirmation of your flight details. Not the polar opposite, like what I now felt sitting in Mumbai airport impatiently waiting for my connecting flight to Bangkok, fearing the next flight’s meal would most likely be curry-based. I may have it all wrong here and the woman behind me berating her husband’s small mindedness may be spot on. I’m not here long enough to sample any Indian culture anyways as 2 hours later I’m on the plane to Thailand.