All by Myself...Finally!

As I stood waving at my daughter and parents at the airport, I felt this unexplainable thrill. Was it because I was about to meet my husband after a while? Perhaps, I told myself and wheeled the trolley around to make it into the foyer of methodical madness.

Credits: airclaim.com
As I found my way to the Indigo Check In counter (Yes! I did stick to Indigo despite the Airlines being in the news for all the wrong reasons and I am glad I did), I see the long queue and smirk, for I was in well before time! Just before I could push the trolley behind the last person in the line, a member of the ground staff asked me courteously to show him my boarding pass. I thought he was wonky and having a bad day- why else would he ask me for a boarding pass before I checked in?! I smiled a kind smile (all those face book free advice at work) and said, “I will show it to you once I get it” and I indicated to the queue. He smiled a benign smile back at me (he was on face book too, undoubtedly), “Ma’am, It is self check in”, he said. I had no idea what that meant and being a person who is incapable of hiding my thoughts from appearing on my face, I guess it was visible to him too! His turn to point out at half a dozen “baby ATM machines”!! He read my thoughts again and said, “Ma’am you will be guided if you have a problem” urging me politely to get out of the way. I did.

I stared at the machine. It stared right back. I smiled a bit nervously. It continued staring impassively. Like all good wives I made a mental note of getting back at my husband for not briefing me about this development. I looked around feeling dumb and then I spotted a pretty painted face in the Indigo uniform. I feel bad for all the men out there who cannot stare without being labeled cheap- she was beautiful and I stared in awe till she asked me if she could help. Thanks to my father I have never felt hesitant to say that I don’t know something. I told her I had no clue about this whole procedure. “Type in your PNR number and follow the instructions. Let me know if you get stuck.” And with that she disappeared. I typed in the number once, then twice, then thrice and then stopped myself from kicking the machine in irritation. All at once, none of those painted faces were anywhere in sight. There were a lot many clueless faces doing what I was doing though!! Some consolation! As I turned to the screen for one last attempt, a man squeezed himself from in between the machines. He asked me what the matter was and I showed him the screen after I punched in the number. He looked at it for a moment and then asked me by what flight I was going and when. I told him and he grinned but without further comment he pulled out a slip that said “sorry the boarding pass could not be issued…” and told me to get into the line for a regular check in. I nodded and wondered why he grinned. Then it dawned on me. No one turned up this early for a domestic flight!

I waited patiently in the queue which moved at admirable speed and soon enough I was at the counter, proud of myself for travelling so light (unlike me) and then I see that the friendly man had given me a window seat. I had paid two hundred bucks for an aisle, so I pointed that out. He readily gave me what I wanted saying that he had given me a window seat because most passengers preferred that. I grinned too. I do remember the times I have fought for the window seat be it any vehicle. Anyway, I moved in for the security check which again took minimal time and there I was, all formalities done and two whole hours to go before boarding!

And then it hit me! I realized why I felt the thrill! Not to say I wasn’t ecstatic about the fact that I was going to meet my husband and drive back home with him- and over a thousand kilometers at that, but this feeling had been something else! It was sixteen years and two months or a wee bit more since I had travelled alone. So many years ago, I had made my first trip with my son who was barely two months of age. I remember waving goodbyes to my parents as I cautiously made my way with my ever so precious infant. It had been so emotional. I had just learnt how to give him a bath. My mother used to do it till then. I was so scared that he’d slip out of my fingers! His first smile of recognition came then- on the plane. It is so well etched in my memory! Well, since then I had never travelled alone. The kids and I were an inseparable team.


Four years ago, my dear friend and I decided to travel and visit all the Jyotirlingas (12 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva scattered across the country) and we do so sans family but then it is the two of us. This was just me! And suddenly, it felt odd. I did not know what to do. So, I walked into a book store and bought myself a book, Amish’s latest nonfiction. I stopped for a coffee. At the counter I missed my children. They get so excited over blueberry muffins and chocolate brownies respectively. In all their excitement I usually end up with just a coffee. So, this time I ordered a muffin along with a large cappuccino. I walked to an isolated twin seater and plonked. The coffee was strong and I loved it. I made a call to my mother and told her that all was well and spoke to my daughter telling her that I missed her especially while buying the muffin. She groaned. As luck would have it, I realized that it had egg in it and was I not on a forty one day fast? I got the muffin packed and decided to gift it to my husband. God did want me to go easy on my diet, I could see. I leisurely drank coffee and read a few pages of the book which happens to be a collection of his speeches on topics which every Indian mythology enthusiast would love to read. 

Credits: asklaila.com
Having had the delightful brew, I walked past a few shops and I wished I were more of a woman than I was. I dislike shopping. Worse, I super dislike window shopping. And here was the ultimate feast for shopaholics. My mother would feel blessed to be in my shoes; loads of shops around and no one to make a face!! I was sticking out like a sore thumb- completely out of place.

I stood there pretending to look interested and finally walked into a bright and colourful shop of artifacts. The men in the shop were extra nice which made me uncomfortable for I knew I wasn’t parting with a dime. I hurried my disinterested survey and exited after giving a half smile. I walked past all other shops, seeing them only in my peripheral vision. I reached the gate from which I had to board and was shocked to see all seats occupied! I loitered about a bit and then walked into a cosmetic shop.
Credits: facebook.com
 I was enamoured by all that I saw. I usually go to a shop with my agenda in mind and walk straight to where I get what I want, buy it and get back. It is only when I am with my mother that I look about at different things- which are usually clothes, bags and shoes, of which only clothes take a bit more time than the rest. Cosmetics I hardly indulge in except Kohl and nail paint. Lipsticks last forever so I seldom shop for those. This time however, I had loads of time to kill and no place to sit so I walked slowly looking at all the shelves, my eyes widening at the prices till I saw two pairs of eyes on me. The two men in the shop were waiting to start promoting any product that I dared touch. And then on impulse I decided to check out a few perfumes and so, one blood hound almost immediately started rattling out how good it was by spraying a few drops on my wrist and threatening to follow it with many more. Thankfully, I liked the first one and bought it along with a moisturizer and I was done in less than ten minutes till I reached the counter. The pleasant faced, bearded man at the counter spoke very well with an American accent and liked to hear his own voice. Unfortunately for me, the only other customer had left and so he was in no mood to let me go. Right from the brand to its magnanimous offers to its social consciousness, he waxed eloquent and I was struggling to keep my mind from drifting but it did and when I got it back he was saying something about dinosaurs being extinct and as I nodded he smiled and added, “we wouldn’t want that to happen to our elephants and tigers”. “Absolutely! Absolutely!” I said emphatically, vehemently nodding my head while the rest of my body was forcing me out and he knew his time was up.

I took a deep breath once outside that stuffy shop- I had actually managed to while away lots of time. I went back to try my luck with the seats. I saw a seat vacant next to two old Sardarni ladies. I smiled a bright smile at them and the older one hurriedly put her bag on the chair. I stifled laughter. Natural instincts are hard to beat. The younger lady motioned to another vacant seat across and I thanked her gratefully and quickly sat down. Well, shortly after, the boarding gates were open and two and a half hours later I was in New Delhi! Here again, let me promote Indigo. I had the smoothest ride, lovely, smiling, involved air hostesses and minimum delays!

Credits: in.pinterest.com

I cannot begin to tell you how liberated I felt with this small step of travelling alone after donkeys years. To most of you reading this, it might seem like an article that should’ve probably been written by a person of the previous generation and not by someone in their early forties! I have served as an officer in the IAF too and this article is probably like an anticlimax. And yet, this is how it has been. Not that I regret my journeys with my family or just the kids- it has been unlimited fun but the fact that in so many years I had quietly clipped my own wings was a revelation. 
  
Credits; pinterest.com
Both men and women forget their own individual selves when they get married and begin a family and that is how it should be for a family to grow close and bond deeply but as the years go by, the needs of each member changes. No team can progress if one member gets left behind. More often than not, that member is the at-home parent or the parent with the lesser income- for obvious reasons too. Giving priority to every other member in the family and leaving oneself out completely isn’t a good idea. One’s own frustration comes out in different ways that is a hindrance to the team, which in this case is the family. Being stagnant is poisonous if I may say so. Large strides are not required just small never ending baby steps- forward- with the team!!
Credits: pinterest.com

  


Comments

  1. With every post I say that this is your best yet..bur this one is so beautifully written and so relatable. Being stagnant is poisonous - so well put.

    It’s funny how all our memories become connected to moments from our children’s lives and how we miss them even when we enjoy the feeling of being alone. You bring out the essence of true liberation - being one with the family and yet never forgetting to spread your wings and fly. Love love love it. Beautiful post. 💕

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  2. If ever I travel alone, I would feel exactly the same that you narrated. Your blogs are so relatable Anu. That is why I love reading them

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much :) I am sure you would my dreamer...

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  3. It was a delight to read your blog... I had a smile throughout... love your style of writing darling... waiting for the next :)

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  4. Wow....your post reminded me the time years back when I was travelling with my son all alone when he was just two months old....n it's been ages that I have travelled alone... if I ever m sure will feel exactly the same....

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  5. Happy lively bloggy 2018 goodwishes.
    Keep the flow!!!

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  6. Can relate very well to the joys of travelling alone...
    😊

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  7. The final sumup is icing on cake nicely written

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