…and why it makes me immediately think of my all time favourite, to be venerated with all the Gods in the Pantheon, author, namely Jerome K Jerome. I was introduced to Jerome K Jerome when a chapter in his book Three Men in a Boat was part of my literature textbook. Suffice to say, parsimonous me went to a bookstore and hunted down the book, and even handed over the cover price without a murmur of uneasiness. So hooked was I to his writing. It didnt help that I read the book without a break. Often times laughing so manically, that it would induce hiccups and provoke the mother to threaten confiscation of said book, and the maids to murmur worriedly about the poor chile being in the possession of an evil spirit.
Why does the prospect of a trip to the mountains, to visit the husband’s native village remind me of said book, you might ask? Tis the prospect of going off on a trip to relax and rejuvenate. That is the original intention. Knowing the family I am tied to by ties of blood and marriage (given that the mater and mater in law will accompany us, plus the spawn of my womb and the spouse to be the only harried adult male in this entourage), I can guarantee, on sheets of papyrus, with letters inked with my own blood, that rest and relaxation will not feature any place on the eventual agenda. The location is beautiful. Undoubtedly. The cool mountain air, the fresh whiff of pine cones crackling underfoot, the crisp sunlight and the child making a general nuisance of himself. Plus the packing, the packing.
This should be said in tones equivalent to The Horror, The Horror. Left to me and the spouse, we would contain all our requirements in a single duffel bag. Our packing is swift and precise. Days of travel. Days of stay. And equivalent number of clothes. Things get a little complicated when a child and elderly relatives enter the picture. For one, you need to carry medications. Lots of them. You need special bags with medications. You need to, like the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared For All Eventualities. Including an ingrown toenail. So you pack the child’s medicine bag carefully, checking all the existing medications at home for expiry dates, realising most of them have expired to the point of being lethal if administered, leading to a last minute dash to the medical store to find most of what you require is out of stock, and then lead to earthshattering debate with the spouse about whether one should just wing it and hope you wont need said medication during the course of the entire trip, and of course, if your past record is any indication, this will be the precise medication you need of all the bag you’ve carried along, but will so not be available in the back of the beyond you have travelled to, so you must need to find a doctor who can then prescribe an alternate available medication, since you have, most sensibly, forgotten to carry along your pediatrician’s number to call up and check it directly. And of course, you will never ever find a chemist’s shop when you need it. You will have to go to local hospitals and bang on their doors and yell to be let in and see the resident somnabulist, aka doctor on duty. Yes. Been there done that.
Then is the issue of the clothes. For the self, a few sets suffice. All rollable, uncreasable, and drip dryable. Throw in a couple of sweaters because I have the body thermostat of one who lives in the deserts. A little chill wind blows and I pull my sleeves over my fingers. A serious chilly wind means I dig out the woollens. And I am the kind who puts on thermals in Mumbai winters. You know. I survive in the kind of synthetic turtlenecks that makes good folks around me break into a sweat just looking at me. The spouse on the other hand has walked out in the 5 degree C temperature in Ooty, freshly bathed, in a pair of shorts and a tee. What can I say? Its the reason why one marries an opposite. To know the other side. And know why we are firmly on this one. As you might well imagine, the fights over the airconditioner control are the stuff of legion. And I have now resigned myself to sleeping with a thick woollen blanket, rather than shiver in protest. As usual. I digress. The spouse and I will have one duffel bag of clothes in normal circumstances. The child will have a minimum of four. Indoor clothes, outdoor clothes, woollens, thermals, toys to keep him entertained and not make a meal of our brains, the like. And given the propensity for him to tear through at least a dozen sets per day and the drying situation being so grim in chilly places beset with fog, one is better covered for all dire situations. Which includes carrying along his entire wardrobe’s worth of clothing. The mater in law too will cart along half of a very extensive wardrobe. This means we probably need to charter a separate flight to get our luggage across. But thats a bridge we will cross when we come to it. Along with excess baggage fare.
We are currently in the phase of deciding if we should or shouldnt make the trip. The thought of packing for it is what is really swinging the vote from my side to a nay. And yes, I always, always forget to pack the toothbrushes.