Procrastination

I have friends who are organised.   

They plan their trips a year in advance, they know where they are staying, 🚂which train they will catch from which platform; ✈️which bus will be used from which side of the street.   And they pack – neatly, 👔👖👗👢organised, with nothing left behind.   All their ducks neatly in a row.🐤

I wish I could be like that.   

I have no idea where or when my next trip will be, which means when it does happen, it is a little like a whirlwind of organisation with no structure, but an ebb and flow, like an amoeboid being pulled by the currents.    

This trip is no different.   

Of course I am hugely excited; of course I will have a wonderful time; of course it will all work out; and of course I have no idea what bus I will take from Dubai to Al Ain because my flight has changed, but I have been unable to change my bus booking.    And of course I will not miss another flight.  😂

I am so fortunate to have friends all over the globe inviting me to participate in the adventure of Life, with new ones joining my circle daily.   Even Dawn from Etihad, in Manchester, (me in Oz – Etihad in UAE – go figure) who helped me with my flights went beyond the call of duty – thanks Dawn.

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Tickets paid for, trail booked, friends waiting to meet me – so so fortunate.

 

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So why the hesitancy in packing, why the knot in my stomach and the voice that says, if it is all cancelled, it will be fine.   You can stay, walk with your friend, tend to your garden, spend time with friends, be close to your daughters.

Must buy Panadol, tummy meds, antibiotics – maybe not.   But then again remember what happened last trip. 😂  Suntan cream, band aids (plasters),   And then again I probably won’t.   Oh yes and don’t forget adaptors.    Camera?   Just phone?

Friends have lent me packing capsules in an attempt to get me ‘more organised’ and 24 hours before my flight leaves, I have still not packed.   I shall do so shortly.   img_7358


And as I write that sentence, I am reminded of how all weekend I said to myself, I will start packing, …. But first I’ll mow the lawn.    I’ll get packing…… But first I’ll do the washing….. I’ll get packing….. But first I’ll vacuum the house (why I hear you ask? )    I’ll start packing …. But first  I’ll write a blog 😄

😄So here I am – about to pack, my room looks like a bomb has hit it, the dog is restless, I really should try and get some sleep but  know I won’t.    What to include in the case and what to leave out –

Binoculars, maybe not, riding gloves – don’t forget.  One pair of shoes or two?   Beanie or sun hat?   either way I don’t exactly get it right – so I guess it hardly matters. 😂😂

I always promise myself I will be more organised next time 🙂 🙂 🙂

Am I the only traveller that leaves in such a state of mixed emotions with everything done  at the last moment.   😩😜

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May Take
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Will Take
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Must Take
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Can’t take

A long flight….

We sit alongside each other : an empty seat between us.   And neither body spills over into it, which should give rise to a minor celebration on a long haul flight.   But there is no celebration. In fact there is nothing; not a look, smile, nod, scowl, absolutely nothing.  The empty seat is as solid a barrier as if there had been a body in it.   Each of us is absorbed in our own worlds, our thoughts private creating this strange isolation in a plane so large and full.

It is a long flight, this flight ‘home’ .  In a way it begins at 5.30am when I wake with the light in my room and go for a walk, because there will be sitting and sitting, effectively two days of sitting.

Then there is the packing.    The usual struggle to get back into my bag the stuff I easily took out on arrival.   Why doesn’t the same amount go back in? Every time!!!  So I negotiate with myself – you’re coming back soon so leave this behind, and that, and it would be a good idea to leave these shoes too.   (Which of course it wouldn’t as I will need to replace them at home 😜) but it’s all part of the long journey home.)

There are always people I didn’t get to see, the last minute phone calls- all somewhat unsatisfactory as I’m sort of half gone already; the private negotiation with my guilt about those not made;  the rushed shopping for someone I had overlooked.   The constant recalculation of how much time before I must leave going on in my head like a needle stuck on a long playing record.

There is the security of a ritual lunch out with two special special grannies.   Conversation somewhat muted, as we go over the highlights of my visit;  more effort than usual is required to fill the silences.   15107318_1377524708933297_2543157797124281220_n

And suddenly time has run out and I must leave, lock the bag, throw it on the back seat – the car is never large enough for anything but a pair of runners to fit in the boot, regardless of the little drawing of 4 people, 2 bags on the computer screen when you book it.😂

Hugs and tears, each parting is more painful than the previous and I shut myself off from the figure still standing at the top of the driveway as I drive off.

Family and friends text and call all the way to the airport so my concentration is challenged and my heart is blessed.    

img_5696Car drop off zones seem far more complex to access than car pick up zones, round here, switch lanes, to the far end.   And then back again to the airport!!!

The bag next, wrapped in plastic so no one can open it.   Not even me, at the other end 😜.  It takes superhuman patience to cut open a bag wound in ‘African’ plastic after two days of travelling.   Funny I never feel the need to do the plastic thing going into SA, but always do going into Oz, something about our customs people make me very nervous.

And then joy of joy; my most special friend is at the airport; this too is becoming a ritual.   She stands with me as I check in, she smiles and distracts me as I hand in my phone card and effectively cut off ties.   She joins me for a cup of tea as we talk and laugh and share and use up some of the three hours check in time.   She always pays and I always let her.   And then again, it’s time and I must leave again.  We laugh and hug and pretend it’s not for long and I walk through the gate that marks the point of no return.

It’s a long flight this flight home.

My boarding card says gate A00, the gate is marked A0.   

My boarding card says Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi, the sign at the gate shows flights going to 5 destinations, but not Abu Dhabi.

You will understand, if you have been following my journey, why I am very careful these days about times and gates 😜😜😜

So I check with the nice young man sitting next to me; he too is going to Abu Dhabi and is confused now that I point out the minor discrepancies between boarding passes and gates.

I look for an official – but we are sitting at gate A0 – the furthest gate of the airport and no official seems to venture that far😂😂.

The nice young man and I begin talking.   We have an ‘airport conversation’ which is at the same time intimate and remote.   He is visiting his sister in Sydney for her 40th birthday celebration.   He rode the 97.4 bike ride yesterday.   He works for Sandvik;  he ran up the berg and has a nice t shirt to commemorate the race.   

I’m about to learn about his ex wife and the work she does when an official arrives, asks for our boarding passes and moves us into two rows.   We smile, we’ll finish our conversation shortly.    We don’t.   We don’t see one another again, despite being on the same plane for 23 hours.   Such is the world of travel

Drinks are served by a friendly steward.   Red wine alongside, Diet Coke for me (why did I ask for it, fizzy and unattractive) – surely I could have thought of a better companion to my dinner.    Or perhaps it is exactly the right match for my dinner, for while the menu handed out earlier with such flamboyance describes a succulent lamb briyani, the reality is far from that .    I wonder if the expensive tickets really do translate to excellent meals?  I will never know.

We doze, my silent travelling companion and I.    I wriggle, fiddle with the movies but can’t concentrate, put the flight path on and watch as I and the aeroplane on the screen move ;

Time since departure 20 mins

Time since departure 2 hours

Until 10 hours later I see

Time to destination 20 mins.

The a three hour wait and another 14 hour flight.

What’s with going home?  The same flights – reversed I’ll admit, and transits tackled with So much more care.    It is though, essentially the same.   

So why is the trip home longer?

Quieter?

Slower?

Is it the difference between looking back over something as against looking forward to something I wonder? 

One way you can create; imagine a perfect reality. 

The other way the reality is exposed to you.  The joy, the pain, the fractures.   

And there always is a fracture, sometimes appearing long after like a chip in the windscreen unnoticed till it shatters suddenly. Other times like a serpent trapped and lashing out in a frenzy to protect itself from what it sees as an enemy. 

Sometimes we can mend; sometimes not.

Sometimes it has to do with living two different lives in two different places; sometimes not.

Sometimes it has to do with choices we make, sometimes not.

Is it the knowledge that I leave a ‘home’ troubled, groaning, needing willing hands , and I go to a ‘home’ where things are good and, out of sight, I can quickly forget about the poverty, corruption, pain and enormous beauty and potential I am leaving, that makes the trip feel so much longer?

Or is it simply I am flying into the sun, ever east, forward chasing the clock.img_5591

I doze as I sit in my seat,  34k,  last row of the plane, second leg of the flight, listening to the cabin crew talking, digesting another largely indigestible meal advertised as lunch.

I ask myself why lunch and not dinner since the plane has been plunged into darkness; every blind pulled down, forcing us to pretend it’s night although the sun shines blindingly on the white clouds beyond the Perspex.

My flight path aeroplane shows 10 hours to go

It’s a long flight ‘home ‘

Trains and tears….

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Melbourne, weep.

A city as sophisticated and elegant as Melbourne Still does not have transport from its airports into the city.

Here I am, on a Friday evening in third world Africa, saying good-bye to my ‘baby’  Jessica, at the main Oliver Tambo Airport.    Painless the travel was, 30 minutes from home to airport, and when I was ready to go back, 35 minutes from airport to my front door

There is a distance of 33km, as the crow flies, from Sandton, where we ‘live’ to the airport. This can take more than an hour on the freeway, and longer if there is a traffic hiccup, which of course sounds quite familiar to my Melbourne ‘family’.

Except there is

The train;

the Gautrain.

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Conceived in 2000 and completed in 2010 (imagine Melbourne thinking that far ahead!!).   I visited during the construction and there was disruption, no denying that.   In some of the busiest parts of the city  where large, sophisticated stations were built.

Big disruptions.

And we quietly muttered and grumbled and navigated our way around construction sites where there should have been roads.

And it cost heaps, estimated at SAR 3.5bill it ended up costing in excess of SAR25bill.

And it created jobs – heaps of them; more than 120 000 jobs and 15 000 courses for unskilled and management were made available.

It has 80km of dual railway line, 30km of tunnels and includes ten new stations.  11km of new bridges.

Other interesting trivia is that it involved about seven and a half million cubic meters of spoil [ph] and the tender papers took 7 hours to deliver and took up 18.5cu metres!!!!

A really a massive project –

As I said, Melbourne,

a big commitment.

But oh, does it work.   For a fair cost, one can park in the parking provided (and there is enough) get on a spotless, quiet train that leaves every 12 minutes and takes less than 20 minutes to deliver you right to the airport.

Why, oh why can a cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria plan and work together to create a state of the art commuter system to their major airport and Melbourne has a gridlock drive, hugely expensive parking and slow unreliable buses into the city and then perhaps if you lucky into the suburbs.

Melbourne weep.