“I am packing you a shawl and two bed sheets in case you feel cold or want to rest in between the travel. There is a small inflatable pillow in the front zip of your bag, so you do not come back howling about the pain in your neck. Also I have put in two tiffin boxes, one contains the normal fare; rice, pulses and vegetables and the other contains snacks and knickknacks when you feel hungry,” said the Wife as she prepared the bags for my trip to Bangalore. “But, why do I need a bed sheet, shawl, pillow, when I am travelling by air, that too by Kingfisher and putting up at a swanky hotel, all paid by my company?” I protested.
“You need not tell me about what luxuries your company affords you. You forgot to add ‘First’ to the Kingfisher, which actually is your Air Deccan, the lowly low-cost airline and the swanky hotel that you stay in doesn’t even have a phone or a television, forget about an AC or a geyser. So, stop trying to pretend how important you are or how important your company takes you to be,” retorted the Wife, adding, “and all this stuff is not for your Bangalore trip but for your trip between Bangalore and the new airport.”
For a moment, I thought I did not hear clearly what she had stated and asked her to repeat what she had just stated. She readily obliged. “Oh come on, don’t you remember that there is a new airport in Bangalore, which is operational and also far far away from the city. Remember how our neighbours had gone their last month and were talking about the long ride from and to the airport. They were rich so they could afford a comfortable Mercedes Benz, unlike you who still has to travel in local buses or auto rickshaws,” she added.
Well, the Wife was right to a certain extent about the luxuries that I could and certainly not afford and since it was a first trip to the city since the new airport had become operational, I tried to go by her gut feeling. It was not because I could not confront her but simply that unlike other feelings, women feel very strongly from their gut and if perchance they are proven right, they won’ t let you forget the same through the time that you spend in this planet. So, I nodded meekly, to show that while I agreed with her on certain points, I was certainly not happy about the way she had stated them.
But the subtlety was completely lost on the Wife, as she opened the zip and showed me the book she was packing in; “Kannada easy learning course”. Now that was quite enough and before I could mouth that she came up with an explanation. “Nowadays, you are never sure about what cultural factors might instigate people. If it could happen to the Bachchans it could happen to anyone. So you better be careful and do as the Bangaloreans do, in Bangalore. Also since you have so much time on hand travelling to and from the airport, it’s better that you use it fruitfully,” she gave me an all knowing smile. “I am also packing in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, in case you get bored reading the Kannada learning guide. In front of the world you show off how much you have read Tolstoy’s work, but they only adorn your showcase not your brain. You could probably finish it between the journeys,” Wife went on.
Now this was getting more personal than I had bargained for, so I decided to put my foot down. “The book is too heavy and will give me a backache, I can do without Tolstoy this time, will brush up my Kannada skills,” I stated firmly.
“Why don’t you take the small compact tent that you had purchased from Deolali, 10 years ago? You could camp out in the open, in between the long journey to the city and probably have a campfire or something. Though, I know how lazy you are and having a campfire is certainly not your cup of tea. But you could still take the tent,” she said. “I certainly don’t need a tent or a campfire, because it will certainly not take so much time for the journey between the airport and the city. I will be travelling by a car not a cart, bullock cart,” I protested.
“You could also take that telescope with you, on which you spent so much. I am sure from the rural settings the sky would be much clearer than from the city. And why did you spend so much on the telescope, if you didn’t intend to watch the skies and the heavens,” she proceeded without even bothering to take note of my protestations.
“In fact, the best thing you could possibly do is write a small novel or a novella like thing during the time that you have with you. As it is, your earnings are barely sufficient to meet our expenses, probably if some book of yours clicks we could then afford to purchase something other than our needs. I am packing two empty notebooks and a few pens for the same. And for heaven’s sake write something that sells, even if it is an idea for a reality show or a Balaji soap,” continued the Wife. “In fact, you should have gone by the train and instead of the air, it would have taken about the same time and you could have pocketed the difference,” she wasn’t doing to stop.
That was enough for me, and I meant to say so. “Rail and air travel cannot be the same time-wise howsoever far the airport might be from the city and besides, my conscience won’t allow me to cheat,” I stated matter-of-factly.
By the time, the Wife was through with the packing I had a few extra bags with me that also contained a road guide, vitamins tablets, first aid kit, fruit juices, sweaters, soaps, tumbler, raincoat, torch, Swiss knife, screw driver, etc. besides the things listed above. I had more stuff in my bag for the journey between the new Bangalore airport and the city, than for the whole trip.
The weird aspect of it all was that almost everyone (barring the Wife) who had travelled to or from Bangalore cribbed about the location of the airport. “It is good but very very far,” seems to be the most common phrase used to describe the airport. Probably all this negative word had made the Wife a little more irrational than her usual self.
Next time, it would be good old railways, I decided. At least in that way, I would be saved from the overzealous packing done by the Wife and could probably impress the editor with my thriftiness as well.
Lone Monkey on a dodgy mango branch