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Impatience Meet Dogma

I traveled out of India for the first time when I was five years old. My father went to Germany on work and took the family on a vacation. I was too young to comprehend it all, but old enough to remember the details.


Baba worked in a government hospital and his private practice was nascent. Money was tight then. Yet my parents did not hesitate to make this non-trivial investment in an education we would have never got inside the classroom.  Our extraordinary travel curriculum included visiting the hallowed sites in Athens, walking the streets of Copenhagen, being awestruck at the brilliant autumn leaves in London, hanging out at a pharma plant in Hamburg, marveling at beautiful Beirut, communicating with people who spoke fluent English when I did not understand a word of the language, and being intrigued by the lives of our cousins in the UK.


Unexpected bits included my brother getting stuck in an elevator in Greece. He was only 10, and however much I wished for him to disappear, I had a full-blown panic attack at the possibility of his actual disappearance.


There’s also a bed wetting episode in England and having to apologize to the hosts for it. I was only a baby and it was sooo cold at night! No apology has ever tested my frail ego quite like that again. Thank you Ma for that sky-high baseline!


Fast forward many decades.


Now we travel frequently, notwithstanding the pandemic. We’ve graduated from coach, parleyed time at the gate with relaxation in lounges peppered with the occasional indulgence in duty-free shops. None of this came easily. Money was tight for us until the financial pressure valves for the children’s education and eldercare eased. Yet, we took the children to many different countries just like my parents had done years before. Closer to retirement, we finally have fewer constraints when we travel.


Sadly, my impatience continues to get in the way of unadulterated travel enjoyment.


This week, as we went from Washington Dulles to London Heathrow to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International, we traveled nearly 40 hours door-to-door.


London Heathrow is contending with severe pandemic-related staff shortages. It took a long time to get through security and our connecting flight was delayed by nearly three hours awaiting basic pre-take-off services.


The intricate choreography of getting us and our bags to London and then to Delhi with the staff challenges, the attention in the lounge, the myriad people still helping in retail outlets, the carefully crafted menus and drinks led to grateful prayers that helped me cope with my impatience.


But nearly FORTY HOURS?!  Cue the horror music.


In this age of constant activity, always being online, and nonstop commitments - is it really feasible to take two days off to go half way around the world? Quite simply no!


This is where my impatience collides with my dogma.


Impatience says take alternative airlines which offer direct routes, not the ones which languidly meander us past the oceans and continents, with ancient aircrafts to boot.


And then there is dogma.


I can morph into Goddess Durga’s avatar and Tarun and I can solve intractable problems with ease. But there are some countries that do not value women’s rights and prevent my goddess powers. I just cannot patronize their airlines.


The countries on my restricted list offer fabulous airline services and products. Great airplanes, terrific connections, awesome service, and lower time in transit.  Still, we take the slow option, painfully flying for nearly two days to get to Ma.


I know that one of these days my dogma will be felled by my impatience in favor of decisions that get us from point A to B in the least amount of time. I can just hear the bugle play Taps as dogma flails on the ground.


But I am not quite there yet.


Until I give in, I will take deep breaths and remind myself to enjoy the slow travel across the world and precious time spent with Tarun even if the body complains wildly about what time I am watering and feeding it and the brain wants to revolt at the slowness.


Here’s wishing you and yours bon voyage on your summer trips and Godspeed as you rediscover the joys of traveling after the lost years. On your journey, may your impatience and dogma be more aligned than mine.




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