Plane tickets were made, suitcases have been packed and weighed, hugs are exchanged, and the call for first class makes you doubt that you’re being still resides in the United States of America.
As if in an interrogation room with a tinted window-cum-looking glass, you’re sitting uncomfortably under artificial lighting while onlookers on the ground watch your fate play out in the sky above them.
The monitor in front of you eases your mind. You won’t become numbingly bored after all, despite the fact that you possess reading material.
Prone to succumbing to motion sickness after reading a few lines of text in a moving or even halted car at a red light, it seems unlikely that you will be reading anything on a plane that is constantly in motion.
The seat belts on the plane are far better than those in a car, though not as desired as AMTRAK seats that are void of any belt.
The air plane seat belts go across your lower abdomen, right above your hip bone, and can remain as loose as you want, without having to stick a couple of fingers between the belt and your body, like the cross-body, pressing-down on your sternum as if perpetually ready for CPR, seat belt that is found in automobiles.
Soon enough the plane starts rolling on its retractable wheels and a loud engine booms in your ears. You’d think the sound would stop but it only gets louder and remains so throughout the flight.
Soon enough, the safety video appears on the screen and you realize that it is far too close to your face and the volume is either too low or too loud.
Your eye lids become butterflies in distress. It should be alright since you have eye drops at hand.
The neck elongates and the head tilts back to an acute angle for the use of eye drops. The air conditioning above you blows into your eyes, effectively drying out your eyes even more in your attempt to moisturize them. Regardless, the liquid sears your eyes in a lovely sting, ensuring you of the over-the-counter drops’ validity.
The tilt of your head is ever so slight because you cannot lean your back. Now there are unusually high levels of saline tears that begin to streak your face.
The seat’s back is too erect, causing your lower abdomen to slouch underneath an unaccustomed degree of gravity. Cramps ensue due to your man/woman-made tummy ache. Remember, you didn’t eat anything in over 10 hours.
Attempting to stay positive, you open up your refreshed eyes and lift up your head, and the plane takes off.
Blood seems to have rushed to my head now and my insides again provoke trickery as reverse peristalsis is about to occur so that my line of sight focuses on the red paper-bag in front of me. Remember, I did not eat anything so nothing will come up no matter how much I gag.
Unable to sleep, unable to vomit, unable to move, and unable to watch T.V., I attempt to immerse myself in the newly published book from a writer I fancy.
Growing more and more nauseous as I read a fictional cancer patient’s narrative who is also nauseous, I am forced to put the book down, 140 pages later.
Arguably the most unnatural experience I have had to endure, traveling is bittersweet and is in no way a lifestyle.
If someone told me otherwise, I’d scoff and have no qualms in telling them off.
The recent article spread on social media called, “Why You Should Travel Young”, strikes me as an utopian internal dialogue that needs to be assessed by a therapist.
I need certain things to be packed with me: Outfit options, shoes, hair tools and products, accessories, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, perfume, face wash, face cream, body lotion, etc. Even if I had made due without these items, they are necessary. I packed the bare minimum, in my opinion, for a trip I just came back from. Though large my suitcase may have been, it still weighed less than most others.
I am not high maintenance. I have, willingly, gone days without eating as a conscious choice. I have gone days without seeping as well. I have taken showers with freezing cold water that was rationed in a different country. Despite these archaic ways, I thrived and felt healthier than when I was sitting in a lecture hall or at home.
After all, the acquisition of basics is natural for humans to live on.
I had DVR'ed the Hindi classic Lagaan while I was away.
My father and I were watching the movie uninterrupted the day after I returned. He was enjoying the dialogue as I endlessly ranted about the non-Indian’s horrible pronunciation of a language that is not their own.
I asked my dad hypothetically, “how did they [the Indian villagers] upkeep any sort of hygiene?” There was a drought and traces of water were severely lacking.
My dad responded that they did what they needed to live. There was no form of hygiene, he continued.
“Their hair!”, I interjected. What did those people do about their hair? What about lice?
He told me that they went to the riverbanks and used mud as a type of soap.
I then told my dad that Harappa, an ancient civilization in Punjab. had internal plumbing. My dad then said that the progress had died with them and civilization started anew, without knowledge of the advancements developed prior.
Traveling entails starting anew, akin to the movement of time from ancient Harappa to early 20th century village life.
According to Ernest Gellner in an excerpt from one of my favorite reads, Nations & Nationalism, said, “The general emergence of modernity hinged on the erosion of the multiple petty binding local organizations and their replacement by mobile, anonymous, literate, identity-conferring cultures.”
The transition from nomadic times to the era of settlement, exemplifies the very unnatural act that is traveling. Furthermore, this act of traveling was as a group of kin or community and is like ensconcing yourself in breathable bubble wrap.
Traveling alone and without your kin is unnatural. Sure, you will get to experience and see novelty. You will explore and perhaps feel enriched from challenging yourself. Perhaps you will make friends, perhaps not. Maybe you’ll be able to communicate, but maybe you won’t.
I want to be alone when I want to be alone regardless of loneliness. I like grooming myself, looking back at my reflection as I comb through my hair, without another pair of eyes around. I suppose this need to have lone time without being completely alone is the equivalent to finding a niche; one of Darwin’s cases in point in describing the survival of the fittest.
Do not ridicule others for their anxiety and particularities when it comes to traveling. It is only natural and all human to fall ill, stomach churning and brows furrowed, at the thought of leaving behind what is home.
For those who characterize themselves as worldly globetrotters, smiling and feathers unruffled after having exited a plane or train, they are the same persons who believe life should be lived as though tomorrow were not available.
Well, if that were the case, I’d like to be in my comfort zone, among my kin, content and centered in a place that is my own.