Travel tales - and travails

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Travel tales - and travails

A series on anything that's something to talk about


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Thu 24 Nov 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 2 Dec 2016, 9:07 AM

A few weeks ago, at a friend's house party, someone suddenly accosted me and started talking about his (and his family's) recent trip to Europe. "We first went to Paris - it was just sooo great: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs-Élysées [he even pronounced it right]. oh, and the Louis Vuitton store. the wife went crazy. Do you know how much money she blew up there in less than an hour?" I really wasn't interested to know, and my eyes were glazing over, but he wouldn't let up. "4,000 euros!" he guffawed. "Obviously, she used my credit card - I've got a new titanium card from EmiratesNBD. She said it was the best way to break the bank!"
"You're lucky to have gotten away so cheap," I heard myself say. "I spent 8,000 euros at the LV store when I was in Paris last."
And that would have been the perfect cue to swish away in my high heels, but one of them had gotten stuck in the garden-variety party floor.
He looked a tad bemused but, clearly, he hadn't gotten the message. "Vienna. That was up next on our itinerary. You been there? It's lovely. Then, we went all over Switzerland [which he kept pronouncing Swisserland - like some people say 'peesa' instead of pizza]. ate so much chocolate, and bought genuine Swiss cheese."
I was now desperately looking around for a friend (not the one who was hosting the party) or a half-friend to bail me out with a discussion on the mellowing weather or the Friday traffic or his/her dog's evening walk ritual. Alas, the closest person at hand was being subjected to yet another travel tale.
"You're visiting Toronto, I heard," the lady in front of her was on the inquisition trail.
"Er, yes," my friend responded feebly, quite forgetting to add, "And how, may I ask you, do you know?"
"You absolutely must travel to Vancouver - it's gorgeous. Now, when I was there only three months ago, I came across these townhouses, and I told my husband then and there, 'You have to buy me one!' It's not enough to have a couple of villas in Dubai - we also need a home where the weather is cooler." I caught my friend's eye, and she shrugged helplessly.
Later, while driving back home together, she burst out: "I cannot fathom why people have this need to impose their travel stories on others. You're an urban gypsy, a globetrotter, a jetsetter, whatever, good for you. But why do you compulsively need to bore me with excruciating details? I'm not impressed - just very, very bored."
Travel gives you bragging rights, I said. I had this relative whose job required her to travel to London at least once every two months. Soon, all her conversations started to begin with "When I was in London.", and it reached a crescendo when all she had to do was say, "When I was." and all of us Calcutta-inhabiting-types would pipe up with "IN LONDON." She was too embarrassed to ever mention London again - unless there was a justifiable context.
Rewind to that garden party. With one of my heels somewhat stuck, and my friend continuing to be fed stories of Vancouver, I was still standing around helplessly when the man in front of me went back to Paris. "We're planning a trip to Paris - again! - next year," he droned, while, in my mind, I was on a hammock, swaying gently to the sea breeze. "I can't get over how awesome the Louvre is."
I decided to move away now; I had spotted a plate of laddoos, and was itching to grab a couple in order to get that sugar high to help me snap out of my induced lassitude. I'd have to pull my stuck heel out so it would be an inelegant move.
But before that, I had to give out a semblance of a parting shot. "Paris, huh? I have travel plans for next year too: I'm going to Jhumri Telaiya. you know, an outpost in Jharkhand. the interesting point to be noted is that Vividh Bharati recorded the maximum number of requests for Hindi film songs from Jhumri Telaiya. I think that makes it far more interesting than Paris."

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