India-Getting There

 

Going to India did not only require that my passport was up to date but also that I apply for a visa. A visit to the travel clinic at my local public health department advised me that in addition to the hepatitis and tetanus shots I had received before a trip to China, I also needed a typhoid inoculation and to take malaria pills.

And then there was the packing.  Trying to select the appropriate things, both from the aspect of practically and fashion, is the only time I ever wish I were a man.  Being a traveling male seems  so easy,  a few shirts,  some pants, one pair of shoes.  No worries about makeup or hair styles.  I packed and repacked.  I finally looked on the internet and thankfully saw a travel blog advising female readers  going to India to wear  loose fitting clothes and to not wear shorts.

And then there was the over 15 hour flight. The tour company by chance booked this country girl on Emirates, the airline based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was one  of highlights of my trip.  I was economy, of course, but the food was great, the movie selection was fabulous, stewardesses wore awesome uniforms, and I had brief stops in Dubai to change planes.

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Everytime  I used the washroom at the back of the plane, I  couldn’t help sneaking a peek at the full sized winding staircase that led up to where wealthy passengers enjoyed luxurious first class heaven. Must be nice, I thought.

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When I arrived in Delhi, I was greeted by a tour representative and transported by car to my hotel.  My first impression of India was that it was a place with an extraordinary amount of  loud honking.

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All through the trip, whether on highways or on city streets or villages roads the use of horns was constant.  When I mentioned this to my tour guide or local residences they dismissed it as both nothing unusual and very necessary.  They explained that people in moving vehicles needed to tell other people where they were.  But with all the noise being made, I wondered if communicating this way had any effectiveness.

India has 17.7 4% world’s people with a population of 1.35 billion., second only to China.  I wondered if the honking was an equalizer, a way for all classes, rich, poor and in the middle, to have a voice. I watched an India political discussion on the TV  in my hotel room and witnessed the same loud passion as each people spoke over the other, each politician asserting his or her existence and proclaiming, “I am here.”

And then I thought, is this honking in India so removed from the human condition? We all want to be heard and to feel that our existence is and will be significant. This has always been mankind’s desire. In southern France there are handprints on cave walls dating back to 25,000 BC.  They too proclaimed, “I was here”.

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I’m not much different. I’m writing this blog so my grandkids will know my story and remember that I was here.

Keep honking, India.  I hear you.

WARNING! Stay Contained!

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I have known my friend, Emma, for over 40 years. She’s one of the most organized people I know. Emma keeps a neat, tastefully decorated home; entertains with gourmet meals; and maintains optimum efficiency with lists neatly written in steno notebooks.

My small rented one bedroom condo was Emma’s last stop during her two week trip around Florida. She spent two days with me, sleeping on the sofa in the living room and living out of her suitcase. As she was packing the night before she was to fly home, Emma realized she could not find her license. It was her only form of ID since she chose not to bring her passport on this trip. We looked everywhere, unpacking and then repacking all her stuff. We looked under furniture and all the couch cushions. We then tried to call the airlines and the airport. We finally spoke to someone at The TSA who suggested she come in early and talk to one of the agents.

The next morning we both woke up tired, neither one of us got much sleep. We both spent the night wondering if Emma would make it home. We got her things into my minivan and started the forty mile trip to the airport. As I drove, Emma startled me with a sudden burst of laughter. She held a little box in her hand, one of those new security devices that prevents someone from stealing the information off a credit card. In this box Emma found her license. She had changed her routine, taken her license out of her wallet and put it in different location in her purse.

It is so important when traveling to have a routine of consistent placement of stuff.  It’s very tempting to randomly empty a suitcase after a long day of traveling. But since you don’t have the categorized spaces like you have at home, it is very easy to misplace things or, worse still, lose things that are left behind.

When I went car camping for 70 days in 2001, I had to force myself to be consistent.  Even when I was dead tired I knew I had to stay contained.  My scissors were always returned to the glove compartment and any medications were put away in the “important things” tote.  Everything had its place.  I could hear my mother’s advice, words that my sisters and I sometimes found annoying.  “Wherever you put it, there it is!”

Right now I’m training myself to always put my car keys away in the same side pocket in my bag. I hate digging around and searching for them in the dark recesses of my purse. I really need some extensive behavior modification, maybe something involving electric shock treatment.  Old habits die hard but good traveling habits make everything go smoothly.

Can We Exist without Lists? Tell Me about Yours …

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In the next few weeks, I will be posting a list of important points for solo women travelers. I use lists a lot because they help me stay me focused and organized. They allow me to record tasks that I might forget later, especially when getting ready for a trip. I’m not so overwhelmed with big problems or projects when I break them down in little steps. Lists are great for bloggers and writers as a way of presenting important ideas in manageable doses. I would like to hear from you, my readers, about your list making. Not just for traveling but as a tool for getting through the journey of life. Do you make them at a certain time of the day? On whiteboards, notebooks, or Post-it Notes? Do you get a feeling of triumph like I do when I cross off a job or, better yet, throw the whole completed list away? “D.O.N.E!!” The happy battle cry of a busy woman.