Sitting in yet another crowded airplane, heading home after three days of conference rooms with no windows, my mind craves home.
I slip into my imagination of walking into our kitchen/dinette, as the music on the stereo is comingled with the noise of utensils clanging against pots and pans or, maybe a salad being chopped on our wooden cutting board; our five year old is yet inventing another costume party with her own plastic pots and pans and brings me a cup of tea in her miniature plastic tea cup.
This is my loving home; my warm embrace, my innocuous brush with fate, my solace after any treacherous day. I love coming back home into this sensual cacophony which welcomes me with open arms.
Sitting anywhere, anytime, I can imagine the smells, sounds and embraces of my little piece of heaven.
After a three month hiatus, some of my travel responsibilities have resumed. It’s Washington DC this week; next week I am in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The following week: Houston. In many roles nowadays, it’s not unusual to have some travel. I do my share.
Those who don’t have to travel for a living, often think about how “romantic” it is to travel, from city to city, living in hotel rooms and having to greet complete strangers every day. People ask me about all the great cities I get to see – London, Tokyo, Shanghai, New York, Dubai; often, people tell me how “lucky” I am to have tried so many types of food, wine or coffee. Really.
What one may not realize is that most of these business travels take us from a plane to a hotel to a conference and then a repeat back of the sequence. Yes, the hotel rooms are comfortable and we do eat at fancy restaurants. However, I am yet to find a hotel room that makes my soul “light up” with harmony and joy.
In over fifteen years of work/travel experience, I have had a few memorable work related travel trips; once I had the chance to walk the Great Wall of China, twice, in the same week, albeit on a cold and frosty day. The trip was fun because my co-workers were goofy and fun to be with; they bought silly, fur hats with communist insignia and wore them during the whole journey.
Yet another time, I walked the Red Square in Moscow at midnight, with bodyguards and translators in toe. The drive from the Russian customer’s site to the airport, in a bullet proof Mercedes with a driver, who spoke no English and insisted on driving on the yellow striped center median and at over 70 miles/hour during rush hour traffic. I felt like the unsuspecting victim of a bad mafia movie.
Sometimes, these trips do turn out to be loaded with adrenaline. However, a vast majority of these trips typically constitute of an airport pickup, a business dinner, a clinically bland hotel room followed by restless sleep; next morning, you wake up to your own time zone alarm clock and wonder where you are, followed by learning to adjust the new shower temperature, another bland breakfast, two or three meetings (or one very long and tedious meeting) and then a rush back to the airport to catch a plane back.
With spare time between meetings, sometimes one may take a walk outside on a Paris late afternoon or take a run by the river in Bratislava. But not having the loved ones next to me to show the beautiful blinking lights of the Eiffel Towers after dark or to show the castle on top of the hill in Bratislava – It’s as if I am talking to myself and saying, look, isn’t that beautiful .
After a typically haranguing long day, as soon as I step back on the plane, I feel relieved. I sit down on my designated seat, put on my noise cancelling headset with my selection of music and start my journey back to where I really want to be.
I think about a kissing Daiyaan on the forehead, or reading a story to Shania that evening – and to feel the warmth and love in our kitchen that evening; I stroll in and pour a nice, full-bodied red in my glass, and intermingle with all the on-going activities.
I am one step closer to where I want to be. A few more hours.
I count the blessings for the simple pleasures of my repetitive, daily, mundane life.