Get down the suitcase, dear

Travelling these days also involves computer gear that will stand close scrutiny by the authorities; and quite possibly a portable bicycle. Picture: Time of India

When some people prepare for travel it’s not just a matter of emptying last week’s lunch out of the back pack and tossing in some clean underwear.

These days it also involves computer gear that will stand close scrutiny by the authorities; and quite possibly a portable bicycle.

The gear that appears to advertise parts abroad is actually intended for the amazon. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. Say you plan to go to some favoured destination such as Sydney or Auckland, and actually sometimes have the permits required. Bully for you.

It begins with the apparently harmless request to bring down the suitcase from the top of the wardrobe and leave it on the floor.

Every creature from next door’s kitten to Kalisi, our aging matriarch feline take a deep interest.

The dogs sneak in while you are on the phone in another room and give the luggage a good sniffing. It’s as if they’ve been to police dog night school again for the drug dog refresher course.

The headache pill you overlooked last time you unpacked is treated with due suspicion. That’s just the beginning.

It is the mere suggestion that travel is in the air and the rituals of packing are shortly to begin. There’s a whole preamble to be taken care of first.

For example has the clothing you may intend to wear at some point in your proposed travel been duly sorted and gone through the wash.

Unless you are that person who deliberately arrives with a suitcase and a sack full of washing so you will have something to wear because there is now nothing clean left where you live. Also, you may have clothing that is your preferred travel wear.

I wear only one pair of shoes at a time until they give up and slide out from under me.

I’m not talking about acting like a centipede here, wearing multiple pairs at once. I’m nor weird. Jeans and tops I’m more relaxed about. I might occasionally go for fashion colours, although that’s more by lucky coincidence than intention. I see many travellers, especially women, now go for those elacticised pants.

I have absolutely nothing remotely rude to say about them. I agree that the comfort of the traveller is paramount, and if it something the activity requires, go for it.

Many eons ago I was a serious swimmer. When I first started competitive swimming our bathing suits were navy blue saggy cotton one piece affairs.

The sleek outifts competitive swimmers now sport are a whole different, scientifically designed piece of gear that I too would like to wear.

Not even the idea of wearing the right bathers could convince anyone that It gave me a good look for a beach bunny. Ah well, some things you give up on.

Okay, so the next prime point of packing up carefully involves less rather than more. We who were trained by mother figures who had enlisted in the armed forces learned quickly that it was evil and wrong to pack more than you really needed.

Also that even in the tropics, light fabric hung in front of the fan overnight would mostly dry. If it wasn’t dry, it was at least clean.

A quick way of reducing the mound of stuff you thought you needed was to call you mother to ask if she thought you would need both the blue and the aqua.

The next time you checked you would be down to your basic black and t-shirts with two different patterns on them. I was always sad, though, that ‘cats against the bomb’ got the push.

I continue to keep my The Fiji Times Incredible Hulk t-shirt, hidden far back of my t-shirt drawer – but the next person who asks me if I’m keeping it to grow into, I’ll see if it fits up their nostril.

For a person who has spent almost a lifetime fitting a precise number of words to a page, I really can’t understand why I go through a weekly drama of sorting out those few hundred words.

I could say things such as ‘they have to be the right words’.

One of the things about getting down the suitcase it does sharpen your mind. You pay attention to avoiding falling into it, for a start.

This is not a joke. I earned the undying enmity of my elder daughter, the Hope of the Side for falling over her suitcase in the dark of the bedroom where I was not expecting it.

This was followed with many hours waiting at the local emergency unit that happened to be full of Pacific people due to it being a Saturday night, I was told.

In the end we all got our just desserts.

Mine were six stitches on the back of my head.

Personally I love it when the big purple suitcase comes down and I can start strewing it with items of clothing useful for parts abroad.

It gives me hope for wider horizons than we have been used to in recent years.

It would be wonderful if those medical professionals who really had it tough recently could get some of that spiffy holiday time our extremely welcome tourists have in the next couple of months as they load their suitcases with nice things from resorts. Or at least pack them with a sensible, light weight selection of Fiji spiffiness.

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