The Lure of (Fernweh & Vegetable Quizzes)

In my last post, I set up the mood and setting for what it feels like prior to starting off on a vacation. We are smitten by Fernweh every now and then.

I participate in the enjoyable task of selecting a vacationing spot, and then graciously withdraw from the actual booking. The days leading up to the vacation, I spend drooling on the side trying to determine spots of interest, planning our days there and so on. As the vacation nears, I am all in, plunging my oars into the waters, packing, repacking and running around till the last minute. In short, like this: Tea please!

The husband, in the meanwhile, after my gracious bowing out, makes a pleasurable study of options available for our vacation. I am grateful that all the research is now online. I cannot imagine how a paper trail of booking a vacation would grate at my nerves. Starting with the ticket booking, he will find everything that is in the databases of all travel sites and airlines. He will have, at the tip of his hands, enough irrelevant information to fill a miniature book.

He knows better than to regale his process with me, for I have picked up a tip or two from my mother’s technique of shrieking with agony. When he started the last trip, the filtered down version of 62 pages worth of travel information was:

Flight Departures:
Oakland to Seattle at 6:55 p.m.
Available Airlines: Alaskan, South West

San Jose to Seattle at 6:55 p.m.
Available Airlines: Alaskan, South West

San Francisco to Seattle at 6:25 p.m.
Available Airlines: Alaskan, South West

Home to San Jose: 25 minutes
Home to Oakland: 30 minutes in the opposite direction
Home to San Francisco: 50 minutes
San Jose to Oakland : 45 minutes (You need some apparently useless information given too!)
Oakland to San Francisco (this is where you use S-with-A)

Return tickets:
Seattle to San Jose at 5:05 p.m.
Available Airlines: Alaskan, South West
Seattle to Oakland at 3:05 p.m.
Available Airlines: Alaskan, South West

He did try to add another destination & airline to the mix, but I employed S-with-A and vetoed the idea.


With me so far? The day of the trip dawned, and all day long, flight notifications buzzed reminding us of our upcoming trip with Alaskan Airlines from Oakland to Seattle at 6:55 p.m. (I set up notifications so we will be absolutely sure we will get there on time, said the husband looking very proud of himself.)

Flight notification: Flight is on time.

In between all this, there was Facebook to check during the day and any intervening minutes we may have had at our disposal, we dithered at this spot on the web. One friend of ours, having done his share of vegetable cutting for the day’s meal, took it upon himself to post pictures of his labors on Facebook.


Flight notification: You may now check in.

On the carnival grounds of Facebook, however, the picture of the vegetables was garnering interest. People poured in with their compliments on a job well done, and wondered what his wife must have done to deserve as able a helper as him. With vegetables like that, it was expressed, that any dish could be a success. His innocuous picture had turned into a sort of an online quiz as to what the dish was. I did wonder how a person so intent on cutting to specifications, did so without finding out so much as the dish name, towards which his labors were contributing. Maybe, that is the bane of all of us who contribute to projects without fully comprehending the greatness it can help unleash, I thought to myself philosophically. (There were no doubts, this was heading towards a great dish)

Flight notification: It maybe a good idea to leave.

We piled into the taxi and left in what was termed a comfortable span of time. The taxi ride inched us closer to the airport and the online quiz inched closer too. The latest hint was that paneer was involved. The answers made the stomach rumble when people, somewhat insensitively, bunged in Chinese Noodles and Vegetable Biriyani. Our own fare that afternoon had been slim pickings for I had gone in for the left-over technique, so as to leave an empty fridge while we were away.

We reached with the bags, ruts and tots at Oakland airport. After bidding our taxi good-bye we entered an almost empty airport and washed up in front of the grumpiest crew on duty. Maybe, they too were hungry, I thought to myself charitably. It was after all, inching towards the evening coffee time.

Flight Notification: You should now pack up and leave, or things could get sticky.

Ha! We are already at the airport – take that Flight Notification! I thought grimly. It is rare that we are in positions of ample time to kill, and I was thinking of hitting a good eatery once past the security check gates. All that face booking and quizzing and vegetable-guessing had me jotted down firmly in the ‘hungry’ category.

Imagine our shock then, when the crew that did not know how to smile, said our flight left, not from Oakland, but from San Jose at 6:55 p.m.

I never knew what people meant when they said they were struck dumb. I now know.

To be continued….

4 thoughts on “The Lure of (Fernweh & Vegetable Quizzes)”

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