Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Of Co-Travelers and other such things :)

I'm back :). That means - back from my travels, and on this blog space after aeons.

After a few relaxed weeks in Singapore, I moved on to my first ever all-girl holiday in London. I had a whale of a time, meeting friends and roaming around the city to my heart's content. Before I put out my usual travelogues though, there were a few other thoughts on my mind.

On Traveling Alone: This was an experience I had looked forward to for many reasons. I was most curious about needing to handle logistics just for myself, versus for a family as is usual on my usual holidays. There were some funny discoveries along the way though. For example, while it was much easier to check-in and select the right seat just for one, this also meant I had no control over who would be sitting next to me ;). And on my journey back I also realized that my little fella S takes up very little arm space compared to pretty much any co-traveler. For the record, on a long flight, a seat close to the toilets pretty much trumps all others :P.

On Not passing judgment: One of the first things you learn as a parent is to not turn up your nose at the parent struggling with that toddler meltdown at the supermarket. While I try consciously to give the benefit of doubt always, I am afraid I need reminders at times. And this was a strong one. On my flight out to London, I was a bit taken aback to find a slightly fidgety child coming to occupy the seat next to me. Just as I was bracing myself for a not-so-pleasant journey and remembering some jokes about disturbances from bratty kids on flights, I took a closer look. The child's mother was sitting in the seat next to her, and immediately reached out to let me know that she was a child with special needs. She apologized to me in advance for any discomfort :(. I figuratively kicked myself, and told her that it would be no problem at all. And it really wasn't - all I could think of was how much I tell my kids to behave on flights and what an easy time I really have of it. How much more of a battle these parents must be facing, to need to be patient and to deal with their child with understanding. I was in awe of the mother throughout the trip, as she tried to be firm yet was so very loving to her child as well. She even offered to have her husband switch seats with me after a few hours (it was a 10 hour flight), but I was emphatic that it was fine. The husband was sitting across the aisle from her and taking care of a younger sibling. It was also lovely to note, that the cabin staff (I was on BA) were very understanding and helpful - one of them even remarked that she had met them on their flight out as well.

On taking photos: I have been researching and reading reviews of DSLRs for a few years now, but the logistics of carrying one around always scare me a bit. I worry that on journeys like this one, I would find it tough to carry an additional piece of baggage all the time, not to mention a not-too-light one. So this was the first ever time I completely depended on my phone for all photos, not even taking along my point-and-shoot which has a lovely 21X zoom and has always been great for outdoor photos. Did I miss it? A little bit for sure, at places where I would have loved to zoom in and get some extra detail. But the final result was a tidy collection of pics between 3 phone-cameras (iPhone6, Oneplus and my own iPhone5). I even got some lovely scenic shots on my phone, which made me realize that the subject of the photo is really the most important contributor to a good shot. The natural lighting of course, comes a close second. Here are 2 shots of the same scene - one when cloudy and one after it cleared up.
From a Cocktail bar on the Shard, London

So much more breathtaking just an hour or so later :)
On meeting old friends: I stayed with a friend who is based in London, and another who joined us from Seattle. Though we have met a few times over the years, it is just amazing how it always feels the same and we can just pick up from where we left off the previous time. I also met a couple of others whom I haven't seen (or in some cases even not chatted with on FB ;)) in the 17 years or so since college, but even then it was so very natural to just get talking with no warm-up time required. It was also great to just relax and be oneself, without having to worry about what anyone would think. To be fair though, I have it pretty easy on this front in my normal life as well :D.

Err.. that seems like quite enough gyaan until I get to my actual travelogue post ;). Bye for now and thanks for reading this far!