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Musings of an Aunty Down Under

by Aiden

Dolly Koghar explores the futility of packing, unpacking, and repacking.

I’m meticulous about most things, and I’ve got lists for almost anything and everything, obviously including a very solid one for travelling. This in turn forks off into sub-lists for different destinations and types of trips: whether it’s a twosome or with family, nucleus or extended; whether it’s a trip to the beach, for religious purposes, or for fun; whether it’s a trip to Asia, the West, or as in this case, all the way Down Under, to my baby daughter in Melbourne, who’s been hounding us for years to visit. Finally, hubby dear and I took the plunge, sacrificing the comforts of home and the maids, and decided on a two-month trip to Australia. This long, so as to justify being cooped up in the plane cabin for nine hours, and to get a fuller experience of our daughter’s daily life, and more importantly to acquaint ourselves with our two grandchildren and their adorable, dewy-eyed, pink-nosed lab, Milo, in their natural habitat. But the never-done-before, extended trip complicated the packing, made worse with the repeated forewarnings of Melbourne’s infamous four-seasons-in-one-day.

The list required major adjustments, and though I sincerely tried to minimise the essentials, I stand guilty as charged for being an overpacking Indian. Or is it just me that can’t, though I wished I could, travel like the tourists inundating our Sukhumvit Soi 11 with nary but a backpack, or a coloured trolley obediently rolling alongside their owners? In fact, we even paid for extra weight, and yet it fell short! I packed keeping in mind that the common decency of helping children, pregnant, and aged people is now as extinct as the dodo, and that since we were travelling to a country with no hope of porters, the luggage needed to be manageable between the two of us; one already on more than a dozen pills a day, and the other almost there.

But can anyone tell me, how does one travel without the medications that’s been increasing alongside the number of New Year’s countdowns, and enough to suffice for 60 days in a country, where not a single pill will be sold without a prescription? Then there’s the homeopathy for the sniffles and the burps, and the Ayurvedic supplements which enable us to ignore the screaming limbs and joints, and a few others for the digestive tract’s smooth journey, and yet some more, for functions taken for granted thus far. In goes the creams and ointments, not for beautification, but to soothe and relief. Then there’s a retinue of shoes, not for style, ‘cause each one is uglier than the next, but because my super-sensitive feet can’t repeat a pair for more than a day. So, I toss in a pair each for exercise-walking, shopping-walking, indoor-walking, and a decent one for an outing. Of course, I cannot ignore hubby dear’s serd paraphernalia, gel and thatha to set the beard, and patka for covering his head.

I will not travel without a hot water bag to pad my back through the flight, which the cabin crew readily comply with, thanks to the white hair and a little acting. Then there’s my made-to-order cushion to bolster my tailbone, and the indispensable BACKJOY, to support the spine for long rides or when I sit writing articles for you readers.

In summary, I’m sad to concede that either I’m getting senile, or it’s an early onset of Alzheimer’s or whatever fancy name the medical world wants to give the simple fact that I’m satthiya, passed 60; a clear indication that the poor brain, and of course the body as a whole, has long past its usage date and is chugging along on its last puff of energy.

Subsequently, now that I am finally here in Melbourne, I am having a hard time forgiving myself for the million faux pas I made, and this is despite all the packing, unpacking, and repacking of the bags till the very moment when Grab came to take us to the airport. I got it all wrong; first one being mistranslating the Aussie ‘summer,’ which in Bangkokian lingo meant ‘frozen-solid!’

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