Travel Diary: Overweight or Security? in the wake of terror attacks …

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“Excess baggage ma’am,” said the check-in guy. “6 kilos. Three hundred rupees per kilo,” he continues while my brain launches into an impromptu calculator.
“What?!? No. No. No. Too much. Don’t have so many rupees,” I countered.
Never has it been in my vocabulary to pay for excess baggage.
Some years back – ok, many years back – I get away by saying “my weight compensates for it”, while making eye-type sign language to the check-in clerk on the other larger, obese and borderline obese passengers around me.
Few years earlier than that I would gently tap the shoulder of a man in an expensive well pressed and custom made suit in the business class queue and meekly ask if I could ride on his baggage allowance. The pitiful, but adorable, innocent boarding school girl in pig tail look always works!
But now… I am pass the cute, pitiful stage and hell yes, I have prospered horizontally too.
Coupled by overzealous exaggerated and sensationalised (at most times) media reporting, yes, I too am a suspected terrorist to everyone in any airport lounge. Hence, everyone has been psychologically conditioned to play it safe and be selfish.
So, I sit myself on the floor of the airport departure lounge, upturn my luggage and hit the books with a vengeance!
  1. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 1: Kapilavastu
  2. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 2: The Four Encounters
  3. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 3: Devadatta
  4. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 4: The Forest of Uruvela
  5. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 5: Deer Park
  6. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 6: Ananda
  7. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 7: Prince Aiatasattu
  8. Osamu Tezuka, Buddha Vol 8: Ietavana
  9. Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies
  10. Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome
  11. Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
  12. Chetan Bhagat, 2 States
  13. Chetan Bhagat, Five Point Someone
  14. Haruki Murakami, Kafta on the Shore
  15. Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
  16. Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
Photo © Penelope Gan – All Rights Reserved – A friend’s bookshelf that looks so familiar!!! :D

hmmm… 6 kilos. That should be about 3-ish to 4 kilos.

Next, change linen pants to thick corduroy, wear turtleneck sweater over long sleeve tee, tie fleece jacket around waist followed by parka over fleece jacket – we’ll deal with the heat later. And of course ignore all stares. I mean, so what?!? Never seen a woman who’s heavy at the bottom? Never seen the sucky loser reality show “The Biggest Loser”? And common’… we’re not exactly in the land of catwalk models, liposuction and Pilate. We are in the la la land of Bengali sweets, ghee and chai!
Weigh bags. Bummer. Another 1-ish kilo to shed off.
Remove medicine and toiletries bag. We’ll ‘fight’ the liquid-gel-whatever-crap battle later.
hmmm… still amazingly over weight. Ahhh… I’ll flirt my way out of this totally forgetting that I am spotting a gypsies-meets-Eskimo look!
I proceeded to the counter and he looks up and says, “oh you again.”
pfff… I thought, but retained my composure and smiled.
“hmmm… still 1 kilo over weight,” he offers and I swear his eyebrows have a menacing life on its own dancing with joy, up-and-down, as he muttered those words.

ohhh… common’ jackass. 1 kilo!
I mean, don’t get me started especially when he just let a triple-XL sized woman off with an excess baggage of 3 kilos. Even in my ski gear around me, I fit a mere XL. Anyways, I maintained a smile and pleaded (gawd!) … “it’s just 1 kilo sir. I am sorry… but please sir, please. As it is, I have thrown some books,” I lied. I just couldn’t flirt and bat my eye lashes – hey! still works in the 21st century I tell ya – but no. No way. Not to this fat, B-grade movie villain look-alike.
“acha-cha,” he says and shakes his head with a smile.
I thanked him like he was God sent and for a nanosecond he did transform to Amitabh Bachan; albeit a few shades darker. Of course his menacing villain persona returned when he had to spite me and say, “One hand luggage. 7 kilos maximum,” with a smug.
pfff… Oh whatever. I’ll ‘fight’ that after the liquid-gel-whatever-crap battle.
7 kilos my arse. My Domke and its contents is 8 kilos. My books are close to 4 kilos. I don’t care if we crash and die. I want my Domke, camera bodies, lens, cables, batteries, external hard disk, Epson Photo Viewer and I want ALL of my books. After all, I’ve never switched off my mobile device ever during landing or take-off for the last decade and I am still alive, ain’t I?
{ note: See, it’s not deliberate defiance. It’s just that I’ve never known how to with an O2 phone }
True enough I was stopped from embarking the plane (for the second time that evening) citing: “one hand luggage only ma’am”. Needless to say an argument ensued because (1) I have just been released by the morons running immigration in the nick of time to run after my plane on the runway, and (2) weight is the concern not number of hand luggage idiot – so, two small hand luggage makes more sense than one 55 litre backpack I spotted other passengers alighting the plane with. pfff
With the state of fury I was in … I bulged through the gates, risking being arrested and holed up for the second time in Calcutta airport.
And all this was because I have been out of touch and was not aware that airports have started to heighten their security once again because Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab had been accused of trying to blow up a Northwest flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day (read HERE), despite security measures being recommended for US-bound flights only.
Knowing the herd mentality of airlines (and the general public), air travel is just going to get tougher …
so was it really excess baggage? or security concerns? or both?
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9 thoughts on “Travel Diary: Overweight or Security? in the wake of terror attacks …

  1. when i demobilized from china, i bought MH bcoz i knew i wl b moving the whole studio home…by the time weight everything including my handluggage…45kg. 2 checkin lugs, 3 handcarry, a roll of painting…thru-out checking in procedure, i was looking at the ceiling, digging into my nose…..jangan marah. no penalty, jangan marah lagi. lol.

  2. Hi there,Thanks for dropping by. I generally buy books home from every trip simply because they are 40-60% cheaper. Many publishers publish exclusively for books to be sold only in India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh. We don't have the volume / economies of scale for that here, so most books are imported in and hence, costly.

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