Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Luggage Headache

If there is one aspect of making a trip that I find very tedious, it's packing. Not just what to pack, but which bag to pack in. Deciding which bag is as difficult as planning the entire trip. In fact its probably more difficult. Over the years, I have collected an assortment of luggage ranging from day packs to back packs, air bags, suitcases - and every single time I have always bought a bag too small or too big or too heavy or too something other. And obviously, every single trip - I am left with the feeling that I don't have the "right" piece of luggage.

And no surprise, just as I am about to leave for a month long trip, I have been gripped by the same paranoia of "deciding the luggage". This time, the decision was further complicated as I had to buy a new bag - therefore instead of choosing between the 5 to 10 options from my collection, the choice is thrown open to 1000's of brands, sizes, shapes, materials, features and blah. Color of course is limited!

So finally, I chose a shop close by , spent couple of hours discussing at length the pros and cons and picked up a wine colored Giordano 28 inch suit case ideal for travel for longer than a fortnight. Well - happy ending right? So one would like to think. Instead, I come home - and the bag appears far too big than it is supposed to have been. I am concerned - should I have gotten one size smaller? I call my mom, crib to her for a while. I spend a sleepless night. First thing in the morning - I am on the net, looking for information - and guess what? I couldn't find anything!!! called up few colleagues, bothered my frequent flying friend. Called the shop manager, got myself an "exception" to exchange. And even after which I couldn't decide what to do - to exchange or not to. Ultimately, I decided I cannot let such a minor event ruin my peace of mind (though the cost of it isn't minor) and did the "pick a chit" test which said stay with this bag. So that's the end of the matter.

But for those who are as confused as me, I finally found this price chart - thanks to luggage online and some infor from Though, I am still not entirely convinced with my purchase. :)

Price chart from

Anyway - what one really needs is a luggage invention which can change into different forms and sizes. And if it can gauge the owner's mind and pack itself - nothing like it.

PS: I am surprised that a lot of people actually agreed with me on this one when I thought, maybe, I was in fact spoilt for choice. I agree with girl with big eyes' sugesstion of use and return. Personally, I would prefer it if the luggage shops had items like shoes, clothes, business suits, cosmetics kits - so one can actually pack it in in the shop to get an idea. I feel that is the most difficult part of the purchase - trying to visualize what a bag can hold.

In my case, the extendible bag proved to be a good choice to fit in all my shopping. so women - definitely go for that one!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Lost Continent...

Finally O finally, I managed to complete this book. I dont know if it was me or if it was the book or it was just the way it was meant to be - but i ended up dozing off more often with this book than I did with my CFA books!

Bill Bryson talks about the road trip he undertakes across the American continent touching all except for 10 states. The book had a promising start. He starts of by saying "I come from Des Moine- somebody had to". He has a sarcastic wit which is entertaining - but gets tedious as you get deeper into the book. I can understand his disappointment that the small town America he knew no longer existed, nevertheless, his comments that the every town had mindlessly let malls and McDonalds take over becomes repitive when he describes about 85% of the towns that way. Halfway down the book I was reminded of the narrative style of J.D.Salinger's in 'Catcher in the Rye'. In my honourable opinion, it would have been nicer if he had not taken the pains to explain the drawbacks of every motel he had stayed in. And he had dropped his cynism levels a tad bit.

But truth be said, I agreed with him on some things, though these could be true for any country and not just America. Many small towns lack individuality - but probably to be expected given the continents size and unfortunately, limited number of phyical features available to land. I also disliked the tourist crowds in Yosemite and Niagara (though Niagara doesnt star in this book). A number of "spots" are more about the advertisement - 'a tourist trap' he calls them. Lastly, if America stopped spending, the rest of us would definitely be in trouble :).

The good parts - I like the sections where he enjoys the place. I like his discovery of lesser populated places such as the appalachians, the region around the great lakes. In fact, Lake Erie is on my must see list, if and when I ever go back. He also flavors his writing with a lot of titbits on people, their origin, accents etc. As he drives through the appalachians, he describes this tribe which has features such as eye color etc like the whites, but has a dark skin tone. Quite interesting. He also reminisces a lot about "his days" and how America has changed since then.

Overall - do not be dissuaded by my initial comments. Bill Bryson is supposed to be a well liked and appreciated author...!