Journeying Through Journeys!!
We made a trip to Mumbai in November for a family function.
- Air Tickets — done
- Hotel booking — done
- Transport arrangements — All courtesy of our son — done
- Ernie’s Kennel booking — done
- Double dose vaccination certificate on the phone and copies in the handbag — done
- Aadhar cards — original and copies — done
We were all set and ready to go.
Husband constantly reminded me that we are old and should do things well on time; hence the packing started 3 days in advance. We were to be away for 5 days with a couple of functions to attend, husband counted the number of shirts and trousers and everything else and placed them on the bed for me to approve, disapprove and change if need be. On earlier trips we managed very well with 1 suitcase and 2 pieces of hand baggage, but the suitcase was full with his clothes alone! So, down came a second suitcase. Now it was my turn to choose my clothes — I changed my mind about thrice between sarees and other clothes. By the end of the day, my knees decided to pack up- ‘enough is enough’ they complained and groaned in pain. The following two days were busy days and were managed with pain killers.
The night before leaving had a new checklist:
- Backdoor locked — done
- Gas cylinder door locked — done
- Terrace door locked — done
- All locks and keys checked — done
- Suitcases locked — done
- Refrigerator emptied and clean — done
- Boarding passes on the mobile — done
Now for a good night’s rest to be fresh to take on the journey; wishful thinking! I could not sleep due to the excruciating painful knees and wild thoughts running through my head.
What if I can’t get out of bed? Will I need a wheel chair at the airport? And my ego could not handle that, I vowed to myself that I would walk, come what may.
With Volini on my knees and a pain killer in my stomach we reached the airport — engaged a porter and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Do you need a wheel chair?’ I smilingly mumbled something, when fortunately a buggy came by and we could go the short distance to enter for baggage drop. Everyone has become smart and already have their boarding passes and hence the queues for baggage drop are longer than for checking in. All done and now for security check — To our bad luck the conveyor belt for the hand baggage was stuck and had to be manually operated. So what should have taken about 15 to 20 minutes took an hour leaving very little time before boarding. I hobbled along to gate №24 I think. For quick boarding and timely take off, the airlines call out boarding row wise and being senior citizens we were asked to board first. We had two aisle seats and therefore had to get up twice to allow the other passengers to enter their seats.
Why can’t the airlines think about boarding ‘column’ wise?
The flight itself was uneventful — smooth take-off and landing with no turbulence. The next hurdle was to get the luggage off the conveyor belt as Mumbai airport unlike Bangalore has no porters. We were lucky in that a Good Samaritan helped us. The cab driver did the rest.
Our Hotel booking was at a 5 star, large property and one of the largest hotel chains in India. All documents had been emailed; hence check-in should have taken just 10 minutes. It took over 30 minutes to be escorted to our room. Now, we had to ask Questions to know the mechanics of the room. Don’t you think a hotel of that rating should have a ‘Room Protocol Checklist’?
The room was not senior citizen friendly (I don’t know if any hotel thinks of the needs of senior citizens). The toilet seat was very low with no grab bar, putting a lot of pressure on the knees to sit or get up. The mattresses were too soft — you just sank in and could not get off the bed easily or if you were sleeping at the edge you could easily fall off the bed.
There were many other things to grumble about…. which I am not going to enumerate. The crux of the matter was that there was no warmth, everything was so mechanical. We generally stay with the same group of hotels wherever we travel. I told the PRO that this was their worst hotel that I had stayed at; I did soften it by saying that it could be the COVID protocol and the painful knees that was making me cranky.
The travails of a journey!!
Talking about our journey brought to mind other journeys.
The journey of the migrants when the first lockdown was suddenly announced giving just about 24 hours’ notice. Those images on TV are still vivid — men, women and children trudging home on foot with all their belongings in a couple of bags — worn out footwear or no footwear, very little money and food and water. No place to lay their tired heads.
Walking — walking — walking — and many did not reach their destinations!
Preparation for Christmas brought to mind another journey that took place about 2000 years ago. Along with many others, Mary and Joseph had to leave their home in Nazareth in the Northern highlands of Galilee to register for a Roman Census. At first my reflection of the journey was my own imagination. Could my imagination do justice to the reality? I did a bit of research and found material that has been reconstructed by people who have actually taken the ‘Nativity Trail’
Let’s start the journey with a visual image of Mary in her 9th month of pregnancy sitting on a donkey being led by Joseph. They went the 90 miles which covered a terrain of heavily forested flat lands along the River Jordan, uphill and downhill over the hills, surrounding Jerusalem, and the Judean desert. Weather conditions therefore was hot during the day in the desert and freezing cold at night. ‘It rains like heck’ says James F Strange — A New Testament Biblical Archaeology Professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Mary and Joseph had to be suitably clothed to face the extremes of weather. Quite likely they wore heavy woollen cloaks for rain and snow. Under the cloaks the ancient residents wore long robes belted at the waist, tube like socks and enclosed shoes to protect the feet. Quite cumbersome I would think.
There were dangers too along the journey — wild animals, bandits, pirates of the desert and robbers. As for food, they carried a lot of bread. The menu — dry bread for breakfast, dry bread and oil for lunch, dry bread, oil and herbs for dinner. Water was carried in wine skins and was replenished at the end of each day when they stopped at a spring or well to provide for the needs of man and animal.
James Strange estimates that Joseph and Mary would likely have travelled only 10 miles a day (20 miles was possible) due to Mary’s pregnancy and impending delivery.
“A journey that started out quite easy becomes difficult and very challenging. It is only a few hours walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem but it was across several miles of arid desert and some hills” — Adam Hamilton, ‘The Journey: From Nazareth to Bethlehem.’ We know the rest of the story once Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem and culminated in the birth of Jesus.
Three journeys with much to compare -
- We travelled in style — cars, flights, and cabs at our disposal.
- I hardly walked — blaming my abused knees.
- We stayed at a 5 star hotel with 5 star facilities
- Our suitcases were full of clothes to suit any weather and occasion
- We had a choice of cuisine to suit our taste buds
- Water in plenty, no need to stop at a spring or well
And yet, I dared to complain, grumble and find fault. The journey of the Migrants and Mary and Joseph puts me to shame.
Let’s Celebrate Christmas and Live the New Year Meaningfully Without Complaints!
Happy Christmas!! May 2022 be good for all of us.