May 20, 2009

Day 0 - "But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel."

I ought to have been excited – granted it was not my first trip abroad, but this was THE grand tour. One could hardly call me an English nobleman from three hundred years ago with unlimited funding but one could certainly still expect me to look forward to expanding my cultural horizons with the same zeal.

I was sitting on a chair amidst a lot of business travelers in the crowded lounge. The new Bangalore airport was glitzy and all I could contemplate staring at the café was how steaming and not baking was the more prominent technique for cooking most of the southern food varieties. I must admit it may not turn out to quite be the grand tour since I only had a loose idea of my itinerary and hardly any reservations. Be that as it may, it was quite unlike me to be as bland as I was on the eve of my vacation.

A minor crisis at work, business visitors who landed at the last minute, some strong suggestions that I re-plan my vacation - all made it seem like I might not embark on the trip after all. There were a few colleagues who were recovering from chicken pox and I had this strange conviction that I was going to get it. And then two days before I left came the swine flu news. I was flying to Europe where there were already known cases. The year before, I had cancelled my tickets due to a death in the family. And with all the other factors, it was probably my brain gearing up for the possibility of not making this trip.

Whatever the reasons may be I found it disconcerting that I was heading out on this trip without an ounce of thrill. It was completely opposite to the way I had felt before my UK trip. I had done my cursory browsing and I did have a single map of western Europe with lines criss-crossing. My visa allowed me to visit multiple countries and I had about two weeks worth of holidays and a mind willing to brush economic concerns aside for later.

The fifteen minutes I had spent on the map, as soon as I had booked my tickets had lines from Austria to Portugal to Norway with everything in between. To paraphrase Emperor Joseph from "Amadeus", I just had to cut a few lines and it would be perfect.

When they announced the flight was ready for departure it finally seemed to sink in a bit. I was really inside the plane - no over booking, nothing wrong with my ticket or passport.

I boarded, ate the airplane food and promptly went to sleep with some vague appreciation about the legroom available. Europe here I come.

May 20, 2009