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A woman who has shifted many homes and cities shares her experience of losing some things in all the madness of packing and unpacking!
Traveling requires that you carry a small part of yourself in your bag. Your clothes, your toothbrush, comb, favorite sweater, that cute pair of earrings, shoes… the list is endless. If you are a man, you might have a shorter list and if you a traveling family like mine, then that list would include your baby’s favorite toy, night-time story book, diapers, a sippy cup and whole lot of other things that you can fit inside the airline mandated 22 kgs.
These lists of things hold more meaning when you are shifting between cities or countries after living abroad for a while. You will be hard pressed to decide what you should take and what you should leave behind unless you are wealthy enough to ship your stuff back and forth each time. It is the nature of the capitalistic human to collect things in whatever space we occupy. We only realize how much we’ve collected once it is time to move again.
In the last three years, my family has changed countries three times and cities six times. This means that we spent the last two years packing and unpacking. Packing leads to some serious decision making, like what we will carry with us, what will we donate and what we will throw away. While moving abroad for the first time from India to the US, we came with two bags and one-and-a-half years later, we returned with four bags, a baby and a store room full of household things to be donated.We only realize how much we’ve collected once it is time to move again.
The second time, we were relocating for a shorter period of time and decided to rent a service apartment. Since the trauma of losing things was still fresh, we tried our best to not buy new stuff. Nevertheless when it was time to return toIndia we were served up a huge nice bill of excess baggage from the airline. We weren’t even sure when or how so much extra stuff had snuck into our bags.
Next we relocated from my hometown to our own house and then decided to change cities again. This time, since we were moving from one home to the next, we were able to pack everything right down to the special fertilizer I had bought when I had naively dreamt of growing a garden. But still, amidst the packing, shuffling, repacking and unpacking, there were things that simply vanished. I’ve found that sometimes these things resurface and sometimes they are gone for good.
Even while traveling as a tourist and hopping between cities, you are bound to lose things. Chargers, hair brushes, toothbrushes, books, and earrings are regular culprits that go missing. I am sure that the lost and found in a hotel must be somewhat like Uncle Scrooge’s treasure pool only filled with lost jewelry and hairbrushes. Even if you were that kid who never even lost a pencil in kindergarten, you’ll find that traveling changes that equation for you.
Sometimes things also get stolen during a journey, for example a DSLR camera that I had gifted my husband. The most I could do was shed a quiet tear and move on, vowing to buy cheaper inexpensive items the next time.I am sure that the lost and found in a hotel must be somewhat like Uncle Scrooge’s treasure pool only filled with lost jewelry and hairbrushes.
At times, it has been a little heartbreaking but that’s what you sign up for when you travel. Traveling means that you might lose a few physical things along the way, but it also means that you will lose other things such as fear, self-doubt and a narrow worldview. Maybe the journey is all about losing your excess baggage and becoming a better version of yourself. Maybe in the future, I will achieve some zen-like nirvana when it comes to material things and absolve myself of any attachment to these trinkets that I once owned. But until that day comes, I guess it is perfectly normal to be upset over my lost pair of boots.
Cover image via Shutterstock
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