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Puneeth Ghodgeri |
September 24, 2003 20:02 IST
Packing, I believe, is one of the most difficult things in life, after pushing toothpaste back into its tube and reconstructing Iraq.
The thing about toothpaste and Iraq is there are only two choices. In the case of the former, it is either in or out. And in the latter, it is life or death. (I would have liked to say crude oil or petroleum, but that would make you believe Iraq is about a much more serious issue.)
Trouble with packing is, there is so much choice it becomes as difficult as choosing Miss Beautiful from the Miss World Contest. Man has always made progress -- from fire to aeroplanes to Osama bin Laden, who took aeroplanes a step further. Why I growl at aeroplanes and transport in general is because it brought about packing. Which, by the way, has not progressed at all.
Packing has been my worst nightmare. I am a student about to go abroad, and I am sure there are thousands like me across India struggling with the same horror.
In passing, I don't know why our intelligent elders like to call it 'brain drain' because most of them turn around the very next minute and say youngsters today have no brains and are a drain to their resources.
Back to packing. So which bag do I take? The yellow one with a hole on top or the brand new one mom brought last month from the US? Both are okay except that one is too large and the other too small. I just can't understand why there is nothing in between these extremes.
So I need to buy a new bag. And I need to choose one that will hold most, if not all, the food my mother plans to send with me. Don't know why mothers think there is a food shortage in every other place than India.
Then the choice of what to take and what not to. After musing for an ice age, I decide on my clothes… and in walks the younger brother, who looks around and decides he wants six of the eight shirts I have chosen.
As it is with younger brothers, they make a fuss out of everything and poor elder brothers have to give in. So angry verbal exchanges and another ice age later, I prepare another set of clothes.
After stacking everything I need neatly -- I like to use the word 'neatly', but my father says Israel looks better -- I finally settle down to pack them into the new shining bag I bought from Singh and Sons on Laxmi Road.
Horror of horrors, my stuff won't fit in -- not if I am to take the truckload of food mom has given.
So, again, choice!
There are a couple of reasons why everything doesn't fit in. The trouble with middle class students going abroad is they don't want to spend too much on basic necessities, but would rather spend on a good camera or a really good sound system. So we try to take all we can to from home.
Secondly, the weather. The weather in the West fluctuates more than the electricity supply in India. And for once I wish India had a cold climate and the West a tropical one so at least I would not have to pack in all those heavy duty sweaters.
After a lot of stuffing and pushing and shouting and kicking, I have my bag shut and ready. Then in walks another trouble. My cousin who lives nearby.
She has with her a sweater she bought me ages ago. Although it is more practical to leave the darned thing at home and maybe take it the next time I come, mother won't have it. She says it will hurt my cousin's sentiments.
So open the suitcase, remove a sweater, see it still doesn't fit, remove another, and finally have everything out as it was before…
Anyway, I am away now and it doesn't matter. On hindsight it's a wonderful thing, this packing... just like any adventure. But I bet even Kofi Annan looks disturbed when he packs.
Man has been able to send himself to the moon, but he can't devise a way to pack without trouble. Call that progress.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh