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Lost Some, Found Much – A Trip without My Luggage

August, 2019

Dedicated to my luggage: Tere jaane ka asar kuch aisa hua mujh par... Tujhe dhoondte dhoondte, maine khud ko paa liya. – Anonymous

Travelling, especially in Europe, a continent I adore, is one of my biggest stress-busters. Whenever I embark on a journey, despite having ‘seasoned traveler’ stamped all over me, I get this toe curling tingle of excitement much like a child who is venturing onto the beach, with its soft squishy sand and gently lapping waves, for the first time. However, I was especially looking forward to this journey for it had the added bonus of my family accompanying me – HD (husband dearest) and my son.

We landed at the airport in the morning hours, the European sun seemed to have languidly opened its eyes, and its nascent rays nonchalantly caressed our cheeks in welcome as we walked past the aircrafts. 

As usual, I had a tiny hand bag with me, since I hate having to carry any weight and prefer off-loading all baggage (real and emotional) onto places intended for them – the cargo of a plane or of the past!  Just a few things from here and there to keep me going in case of emergencies, while everything else lay restfully in my check-in baggage. 

While Sanjay and Siddharth lunged for their luggage one at a time, I waited patiently for my stuff, which invariably is always the last bag to arrive on the conveyer belt. But this time the river of luggage kept narrowing till it trickled down to a stream and then nothing!  I realized my luggage was most likely misplaced or worse – lost! 

 Believe me when I say, no matter how relaxed or ready you are to carpe diem, losing your luggage on a vacation is a terrible trauma to say the least. The first day of my long-awaited vacation and all I could do was stare at my tiny hand luggage that didn’t even have enough for a minimalist’s version of a single day, let alone an entire holiday.

Given the choice of things in my hand luggage, I couldn’t really count on my chances for getting an invitation from Bear Grylls. With much reluctance and loathing I pulled out that one boring and non-crinkling dress that I had packed and somehow managed for the day. 

Nonetheless the night was a laughter riot session. And why wouldn’t it be, I was quite literally the woman who wore her MAN’S PANTS because obviously I had nothing to wear for the night. 

For a second it felt like being the baby bear in the family, who loves to try on his daddy’s clothes. HD is at least a foot taller (and wider) than me! But despite all, it was very comforting to sleep in his shirt, feeling cuddled and cozy.

The second day was no less than an abomination – I had to repeat the same dress that I had worn just a day earlier. Not something you want to do on a holiday- which as we all know is supposed to be an endless array of photographable moments for social media. 

But as the days morphed one delightful moment into another whilst my errant luggage remained errant, and it didn’t reduce the fun we were having even by a fraction, some home truths dawned on me, viz;

• How little one needs to actually survive – Quite a la Jack Reacher, the protagonist in Lee Child‘s books, a much decorated war veteran roaming the US of A righting wrongs with just a tooth-brush in his pocket! He has only one set of clothes which he wears and then throws every few days into the dustbin and then buys another replicate set. That’s all he requires and is content to own!

• How simple life becomes when you have no possessions – For the next few days I wasted absolutely no time in deciding what to wear or what to match and mix. I didn’t need to  deliberate on the appropriateness of the occasion or where to store my clothes in the hotel room. I could finally shun the shackles of societal pressure to look appropriately (and differently) clad all the time! There were no choices to ponder over and life became all the more simpler, easier and restful as a consequence.

• Everything I had deemed essential was actually superfluous – The stoles and scarves, the extra shoes, the perfume, foundation and night cream which I wouldn’t have normally dreamt about doing without – I managed beautifully to do without! 

• When you don’t have external accouterments you actually become clearer about the essential you – The holiday had effortlessly shifted from what I wore, to what I did and how I enjoyed the day. Clothes didn’t matter in the long walks we took and the family fun we had. I was more involved with my family than with myself and what joy that was. As someone has rightly said “all what matters is what’s inside you”.

Albeit it began with a shock therapy, the trip ended up being a journey of enlightenment. It pushed me to introspect on how truly liberating it is to be in your true skin. Edmond Mbiaka said “Never get tired of being your true original self. You are too special to be anything other than a reflection of your true identity.” A luggage-less me endorses that totally!