Sunday, May 15, 2011

Europe eludes me

I’m in the middle of planning a holiday with childhood friends, brother and sister-in-law. After or before meeting up, we plan to have separate holidays doing different things, so there’s much excitement and argument in the air this weekend. In the course of this, I opened a folder called “Holiday Stuff” to get some Norway information (a holiday minutely planned, but sadly aborted a few years ago) for my sister-in-law and was startled at how much there was in it, and not just about Norway. Looking through the many crowded files, a pattern emerges.

Two-week holiday in Spain. Appointment made and kept at the Spanish Consulate in Abu Dhabi, but visa unused. Tickets, Dubai-Barcelona-Dubai, paid for, then cancelled. Three-week holiday in Denmark and Norway. Flight booking, Dubai-Copenhagen-Oslo-Dubai, confirmed and cancelled. Ticket for the Flam Railway, unused and unrefunded. Email from a fjord cruise saying “Dear Ms Menon, we are pleased to confirm your booking.” Followed by something to the tune of “we don’t normally provide full refunds but as you’ve cancelled well in advance we’re happy to make an exception”. Weekend in Vienna. Another attempt at that one. Eid break in Rome. Another Eid break in Tuscany. New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam, Santorini, Ibiza. The Edinburgh festival. All researched, booked, re-confirmed and cancelled, with military precision. As I said, Europe seems to elude me, for some reason.

Well, not "some reason" - it was always work*. I can list the projects and clients that ruined it last minute. And I’m back in that kind of industry, in that kind of position. So my superstitious misgivings about planning a holiday too much in advance is founded on solid fact. Unfortunately, if you plan to travel in the high season, you have no choice. One must just wait, watch and hope. And maybe comfort oneself with thoughts of to Bangkok or Bali or even Goa for a long weekend, since I don’t need visas in advance for any of them. As you see, I’m a veteran contingency planner. For example, I know with absolute certainty that the contingency I plan for won’t happen. Another one will.

*I'm baffled by the fact that I actually managed to make that four-week US trip! The only unusual factor there was a visit to my cousin on my father’s side. Hmmm. Maybe the contingency plan for the contingency plan should be to burst upon these unknown and unsuspecting cousins from that side. Apparently the three thousand cousins that I already have (as in, those I know and am in touch with) are not enough.


nzm said...

Good lord, woman - get yourself to Barcelona. You can come stay with us. Now there's a reason! ;.)

Gargoyle said...

Oh what an idea! And so generous too. You should be careful what you wish for - you know you *will* find me on your doorstep sometime this year?

nzm said...

Let us know what you're arriving and we'll meet you at the airport!

(But do check dates with us first - Barcelona is in hot demand with our friends and family - way moreso than Dubai!)

Gargoyle said...

Hahaha yes I will write first! And I'm very touched by the airport offer.

SkinnyManhattan said...

One thing I've learned in advertising is that you will be guilted every which way possible to change plans, skip trips and prioritize just about everything before your own life. I've even had one boss ask me if I was aware of how I was inconveniencing the company with my visit home to India - and this after I had worked till 10 pm on Christmas eve! (I told her she could spin it however she liked but I was going. I didn't get a raise that year. But I felt so good to keep my plans.)

Take care of yourself, lady. Nobody else in this industry will!

Minakshi Menon said...

That's very good advice! Have learnt to say no and walk away - but only up to a point. Still have to stay very vigilant to catch myself in time!

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