Have any of you taken leave right in the middle of school just for travel? Well I have done so not just once but many times...
The good old days...
You see, my father did not believe in advance booking of tickets the in summer vacation– he was all for travel in off season- his logic was –that everything was easier this way - less queues, less people everywhere and most of all the weather would be good –so, I would take off, right in the middle of the academic year, citing the death of an already dead grandparent - my poor grandparents- how often have they died for me!
Travel after marriage became infrequent as my husband unlike my father believed in full attendance for my son. So we went back to travelling like normal people in peak summer and soon gave it up for all the obvious reasons.
Then came Facebook...
Firstly it lets you tell everyone where you are and drops a pin on all the places you have visited on a map – I am not usually jealous but, the evil demon enters my heart especially when a friend boasts of a 100 pins on her map.
Secondly my friends post an insane number of photographs of their travel to exotic locations. There are photographs of people in mid air- so I told myself I can’t manage the mid air pose but I certainly can get one against an amazing backdrop... So I took to travelling. I don’t know why but despite experiencing the travails with visa & immigration I still happily pack my bags in readiness for travel.
Recently I visited a new country. The airport was small with a compact waiting area with many shops close at hand. Best of all there was high-speed free internet- I hurriedly accessed Facebook. replied to emails and called my son for free on Skype. I spoke to him for a while – would have spoken longer but he had a pressing engagement -- he wanted to finish the film he was watching.
I quickly calculated the money I had saved in making free phone calls and thought I had earned for self and husband 2 large mugs of Costa coffee. We drank the coffee taking in the ambiance, when my husband suddenly realized that we still needed to complete immigration.
We reached a large hall where there were several queues – we were directed to the first, which was seemingly small. I saw a sign to the left – which read visa in 3 easy steps-
Step one - complete the form;
Step two - eye scan;
Step three - pay the fee.
"Wow!" I thought, "it can't get easier than this..."
In a few minutes I noticed that the serpentine queues to my right were actually vanishing in a jiffy while mine was moving very slowly. I wanted to be the clever Indian and join the fast vanishing queue but my husband whispered in annoyance –that’s for local residents. Finally we reached the counter and I greeted the officer with all the charm I could muster but he was unmoved and all he was interested in, was my husband’s designation. It was only after he verified this did he hand us the form. We filled the form very carefully as the slightest mistake would lead us back to the end of the queue.
We then went for the eye scan- where I had to sit in a low seat and dilate my eyes and stare at a camera that was a little away. Now I have had eye scans before with my gentle and considerate ophthalmologist. Therefore, I was quite taken aback to see a uniformed policeman conducting the test. The official was in animated conversation with his friend in the next seat and was barking instructions at me now and then – he would say right and then left and then right and left – this went on for some time –and I made good use of my training in classical Indian dance (Bharathanatyam) – but it didn’t help much as the official was dissatisfied with the outcome and made me dance some more.
Anyway as I left the room I was distracted by the picture of a monster in the official’s computer and wondered why he would keep such a picture -- but all too soon it dawned on me that it was actually a picture of me taking the eye scan.
I was heart broken and I dejectedly re joined the queue. After what seemed like an eternity I reached the officer who fed our particulars into a computer (I fumbled for my purse to take out the fee for step three) but he nonchalantly waved us to wait.
Finally, six hours after landing, we walked out of the airport.
A great realization has now dawned on me -- for travel one needs energy, patience and a dogged determination and as I am low in all of these attributes I have devised a new plan...
I have identified a photographer at the local studio who has agreed to photoshop my pictures against any background I desire.
Now I am on the look out for someone who will fake the location pins on my face book page.
Can anyone help me?