THE MEXICO SAGA
I was born in a sleepy little town in South India where I was cloistered almost like in a nunnery. Having schooled in a girls only missionary school, I had no idea of the dazzling world around. My parents got me to tie the knot at 19 and that too again in the same sleepy hamlet. Travel is a passion but did not get its due and travelled around the world through the books I read.( my dear husband would take me around the world with his words as he never had the time for a vacation!)
I would visualise and create the whole scene whether it was the pyramids of Gaza or a mysterious wonderland of Alice.It all came alive for me. My mom and dad barely had enough to give us 5 siblings a wonderful education and flawless values but still they did send me on school trips. I remember every picnic or tour that I took with my friends in school. My first was a visit to the beach and I missed the bus. I wailed and wailed until dad asked my cousin to drop me off wherever the school bus was. My mom had packed three boxes of goodies for me and I carried a water bottle too. My cousin was a very jovial person and while driving he would threaten me that he would turn back if I didn’t let him have my food. We reached the beach itself by the time we caught up with the bus and my goodies all settled in my cousin’s large belly.
The second trip was further and I had to bawl for permission to go on the trip. It was to Kodaikanal, Trivandrum, Kanya Kumari and Periyar wild life sanctuary. So I basically started my trip from the tip of India in the south. I was the baby in the group and was pampered rotten by my seniors and the teachers.
The second long trip was to kem cho Gujarat and the only word we had learned was gadhedo as there were many donkeys there. We covered Ahmedabad, Gandhi Nagar, Baroda, Junagadh and the famous Dwarka Temple. I still remember admonishing the travel manager not to add sugar to every dish!
There were other short trips in between but all close by. Then when I was in the 10th, our trip was for Kashmir, the paradise on earth! The tender age of 15 and the romance in the scenery played havoc with our emotions. We watched honeymooning couples riding the Shikara on the Dal lake and exchanged envious looks between us. Once off the shikara we noted the name of the Shikara and promised ourselves that we would be back on the same shikara on our honeymoon to Kashmir. This trip was in 79’ and I got married in 1983 and Kashmir was no more on our list for a honeymoon due to the anarchy there. All my frivolous teen dreams came crashing down. A week old honeymoon to Mysore, Bangalore and Ooty was what I had to be happy with.
The husband was a businessman and never had time for a vacation. I took the kids to my sisters in Delhi to break the monotony. Life is so very strange. When he was alive we had the money but he had no time and now I have all the time but no money to fulfil my travelling dreams. So what! I am an armchair traveller!
Reading in books and facing reality can be two very different experiences. I had never travelled abroad and a few quack astrologers among my acquaintances read my palm and said that I had no lines of touching foreign shores.This did give me the determination to prove my detractors wrong.I would say that I would carve the lines on my palm, with a knife but I will go abroad. I encouraged my children to fly and they had travelled abroad but not me.Now that my son was in Mexico and I was going to be a Gmaa, I decided to pool in all my resources and make the trip to the other side of the world. I started my quest on a war footing and started preparing for the trip with as much gusto as what a Vasco da gama’s trip to India must have been.
Deep down in my heart I had this niggling thought that my trip would be cancelled somehow at the last minute and I would never travel abroad as predicted. I juggled Yoga, Office, Home and found time to even embroider baby clothes for my grandson. All this took its toll and my health took a downturn. Just a day before I was supposed to leave I could not get up in the morning due to pain in my back and was diagnosed as sciatica. I took painkillers and got poked too but to no avail . I could barely move and there was no way I could travel to Mexico. I was advised by well-meaning friends and family to postpone the trip but I had the fear that if I did not go now I would never go.
Going against some sane and safe advice I started my Voyage (almost 10000 miles away). I had to cancel my train booking as I could not walk to the train and then I dragged myself into the car for the first leg of my trip. My niece in Hyderabad (bless her) took me to a acupuncture clinic which gave me the dare to even think of travelling. The pain was excruciating but the optimistic and gritty desire to conquer the world gave me the determination to board the flight from Hyderabad to Dubai with the help of a wheelchair. The constricted space in the flight and the flying miles added to my agony. I was popping in pills but they didn’t help.Allopathy, homeopathy and every pathy did not reduce the pain.
My colleagues in my airline office were envying my ride on the A380 from Dubai to LA and I too preened about fluttering my feathers. This leg was 16 hours of non-stop flight! I was again wheeled to my seat in the first row of the haloed Emirates A380. My fascination with planes made me feel really good to have a ride on this beauty no doubt, but then that was from the outside. Inside it looked like a country bus with people and baggage. The 3/4/3 seating left little or no leg space or aisle space. The business and first class on the upper floor boasted of a wide lounge and here we were bundled and huddled like cattle in a cart. Added to all this was the agonizing pain. An Iranian lady with a cute little baby was beside me.In normal circumstances I would have baby sat the baby the whole 16 hours but the throbbing pain could not let me hold the cute little cherub even once. The aisle seat was taken by an obnoxious man who had no consideration for the lady with the baby. She even requested him to change his seat but the obstinate bull did not budge.
Now for the interesting part. My first travel abroad could have been a short trip only to Dubai or Bangkok but then am an Alagh(different) and my first trip abroad went all the way to the other end of the mighty Pacific. Most of my friends are frequent travellers and each had their own pearls of wisdom to share. I took a tip here and a well-meaning suggestion there as they were veterans but nothing in the world could have prepared me for the horrendous ride. The cacophony of people, the babies crying loudly and the cabin crew popping all over was making me claustrophobic. I could not eat or sleep the whole way. The cherry on the top was the tiny cubicle. which was actually a washroom, right in front of my seat and the steady stream of the whole populace of the plane unloaded there. The time wouldn’t pass.I held a book but couldn’t read as I was in pain. There were movies of my choice that I could have watched but I was too far gone to pull the monitor from under my seat. I was a total wreck by the time I reached LA. There was a stopover of ten long excruciating hours. As I was wheelchair bound, I could not even stand on my two feet leave alone walk. My son had said its quite warm ma you won’t need woollens and I breezed through in a cotton shirt and jeans only to be hit by the cold air in the plane and at the LAX airport which is humongous and I was at the mercy of a wheel chair volunteer. Took me three hours to check into Alaskan Airline for the last leg of my journey. I checked into United airlines lounge as it remained open till 11 while the Alaskan closed at 10 and paid 50 dollars for a few hours thinking that I could rest my back and tuck into some food. After paying, the lady said they had no place to lie down and it was just a sitting lounge and this lounge did not allow food from outside nor served any! They had fruit, tea, coffee and crackers. The wheelchair volunteer unloaded me on a lounge chair and made me comfortable by putting my legs up on another chair she got for me. The lounge had dim lighting and it was freezing cold which aggravated my pain a few degrees more! A new country, a new people and all things alien . I was at the end of my endurance and called out for help. I said I needed a poke to ease the pain and the lady at the counter called 911 and the paramedics arrived in 5 minutes! I was petrified and was wondering why I set out on this painful expedition in the first place! They would not give me an injection there and said that they would take me to a hospital and get me checked before administering any medicine and I would lose my next flight to Guadalajara. I was in tears and shaking with fear, pain and cold and told them that I just wanted to go to my son. The flight was half past midnight and I had to wait to board. A big bird again-a Boeing 777 and the multitude of people crammed like sardines.I was hallucinating now and must have even lost consciousness at one point of time and the hostess came and offered me some water. I kept asking to be let off first from the plane as I was feeling very sick but trust my luck-there was no ramp this time but steps and they could not wheel me down first. After the flight emptied and I was kept waiting, I was literally put in a chair and carried down the steps. I felt I was at the end of my tolerance level of pain and felt numb. Thank God for small mercies, the wheelchair volunteer took control and breezed me through customs and immigration in a jiffy. There was my son waiting to greet an excited mom but what he found was a huddled, half bent over bundle of nerves who was asking to be sent back home to India!
Even after reaching my son’s lovely house, I kept asking to be deported and it was a huge mistake to travel that far alone and in that painful situation. I was cold, hungry, tired, and sleepless. Popped a pill and slept for just an hour after 36 hours. The jet lag hit me in the middle of my forehead-BANG! I was hallucinating and calling out to my daughter who was at the other end of the world.
Not one friend or family of mine gave me an inkling of what was in store and only talked about duty free shopping at Dubai airport! Took me a whole 2 days to recover mentally from the trauma but physically I was in worse shape. My poor son had to minister both me and his 9 month pregnant wife . I hated being dependent like that and started crawling on all fours literally. Searched for a chiropractor online and got more of my nerves swollen. I was then mentally in my senses but the pain did not go away .I had messages from family and friends for updates and pics from Hola Mexico the land of tequila (I was a wreck and even lost my camera which seems to have been stolen at one of the airports…………I am still a suffering, zombie and the saga will continue!