Mars, because you don’t need to shop there. Or lug stuff half way across the world from point A to point B. And lug stuff back from point B to point A.
While visiting Kolkata, I made sure I chose an airline that let me carry the maximum weight as baggage allowance (Apparently Air India still allow 2 bags, but American Airlines doesn’t). Then I made sure every bag was filled to its maximum capacity, and a little more. I got away smiling innocently at the person at the counter who had started to protest because I was carrying some 1.5 kg extra. Perfumes, body lotions, chocolates and candies still unfinished after 3 months, IKEA stuff, and this and that. If my airline had given me four extra bags to fill, I’m confident I’d have filled them too.
Once my bags were empty in Kolkata, I had to fill them up again before I moved back. This time it was Indian clothes, books, jewelry, and more “this and that” things. I asked myself how much an innocuously looking saree could weigh. Oh that kurta looks amazing, isn’t it? And I want that dress in blue too. Before I knew, I was long past my weight allowance. Oh hell, I had to prioritize and take only certain stuff with me now [I kept the rest and convinced sister I got it for her for her birthday which is still 7 months away].
And then I called up my guy friend visiting Kolkata for a rant session about how it sucks to have baggage restrictions. I was sure he would have understood my plight, going through the same situation himself.
Me: “Isn’t it a pain to have baggage restrictions? How are you managing?”
He: “Err…. I got just one suitcase.”
Me: “What !!! Poor you !! What airline are you flying? It allows just one bag?”
He: “It allows two. It’s just that I carried one.”
Me: “Wh…Wh…What?? Why on earth?”
He: “I didn’t have much to bring back home.”
Me: “So you could have got empty bags. What about stuff you need to carry back?”
He: “I don’t have much to carry back to the US either. I have enough ethnic clothes and so I didn’t get anything. In fact I still have some 5 kg empty in the bag I brought.”
Readers, I cannot tell you how shocked I was. I wondered if I should have been impressed with him or ashamed at myself. For someone who could have carried 46 kg each way, he is just carrying 18 kg and is happy about it while I’m having sleepless nights. I’m sure I would have filled those 46 kg and would have bargained for more. My friend neither eyes the amazing clothes he could have bought from Kolkata, nor regrets that he left a bag behind. And me, with my Europe trip and all those hostels I’ll be staying at, am carrying two hugely pregnant suitcases, crammed with this and that, half of which I might have done without. I don’t know if this is a girl thing, or it’s just me.
And ironically, I claimed I am not one of those who tried to recreate my Indian life in the US, carrying packets of rice, masalas, Ponds talcum powder, and Boroline cream overseas.
I just fill it all with clothes.