Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Failure To Launch

Word on the street is that this travelling thing is supposed to be filled with lessons: every day poses new situations and one is meant to gain and enhance many skills over this time. Or so they say...

I for one seem to be the only person whose a) already terrible skills have worsened and b) managed to say/do the stupidest of things. I must admit, I don't really mind and do manage a sheepish grin from time to time. 

Obviously I've learned a lot of valuable things, for example that no matter how old I get, how far I travel or how many times I look at a map, whether I arrive somewhere will always be hit or miss. My sense of direction has completely eluded me over the past year and I'm sure it'll be the reason behind my prolonged absence...

So here, in no particular order, are some of the most memorable moments of stupidity:

1. Epic fail: Almost trumping all moments is this tale...

When planning our road trip to Scotland, Kayle and I decided that I would take an early bus from London to Stafford (in the midlands) as I'd done before. She would then meet me at the station in the afternoon, we'd  leave straight away and spend the night in Glasgow (allowing maximum time in the highlands). As I'd taken the journey before to Stafford, I knew that I had a 40 minute stopover in Birmingham, so I got off the bus and waited. When it was time to board I hopped back on and continued to read my book.

Er... Kayle, don't wait for me...
At 17:40 when my bus was due to arrive Kayle calls to say ask why I'm late, I tell her that it can't be much longer. At 6pm I look out of the window and realise that the scenery is very different and that I'm more than 30 minutes late. Panic sets in as I run to the nearest person (very few passengers by this time) who then tells me that I'm in Wales!

A dear old lady helped me get off at the next stop and organise a train back to England, where I eventually arrived at Kayle's house late at night. Delayed by a day and a half we had to set off to Scotland at 5am!

2. Most recently (two days ago in fact), I was at a bar for an open mic night/live band organised by some travellers from Couchsurfing. I'd been there about 10 minutes and as more people slowly trickled in,  someone sat next to me:

 Sanjeev: Hi, I'm Sanjeev.
 Me: Nice to meet you, I'm Rashika.

 we talk to different people and five minutes later....

 Sanjeev turns to me: So it's Rashika, right?
 Me (quite freaked out) : Er... yes, how do you know?
 Sanjeev: You just told me...

3. Kayle and I are planning a trip to Ireland for my birthday, a few weeks ago we met up for coffee and began talking about flights and prices.
In a moment of absolute clarity and feeling like a money-saving hero I exclaim, "Can't we take a train there!"

4. Every morning I drive Tom, my au-pairing kid, to the school bus stop not too far away. On some days the dad will come with to show me the route or if he needs a ride. Two weeks ago (still being new and going through the routine) I was surprised when the dad got into the drivers seat, he parked (rather terribly- in the middle of the road) at the usual dead end close to the bus stop. We all jumped out and he said that he would walk Tom across the road (what I would usually do). Slightly confused as to why I was with them in the first place and thinking that he'd really parked like a wingnut, I walked away . I got home and a few hours later the police are at the door asking about the car because someone had reported it with all the doors open and the keys still inside but when they had driven past the road they had not seen it. Still confused I say that it should be with the dad at work as he had taken it that morning. Turns out there is a tube station next to the bus stop and I was meant to meant to drive the car back.

To the  slight relief of my thudding heart and before I could puke in a police car, they realised that they had not looked as far as the dead end. With renewed hope I stared anxiously out the window as we approached the road and luckily the car was there, nothing amiss.

Yes, the map is upside down...
5. On every trip I get hopelessly lost but this one is totally worth mentioning for it's sheer stupidity... it's really one of those moments that I just have to ask myself "HOW??".

It was my last day in Tel Aviv and my flight was quite late at night. I decided that I wanted to spend the entire day vegetating on the beach and have lunch at what is meant to be the best hummus bar. For starters I woke up really late, so decided I'd go straight to the hummus bar. Map in hand, I went more or less to the area I had been the day before, with some difficulty (naturally) I found the small, crowded bar- and yes, it is the most amazing pitta and hummus I have ever tasted, no one goes for their service, that's for sure!

Completely stuffed and with the staff glaring at me to get a move on, after all it isn't a restaurant, I left for the beach. Stubborn as I am, and believe it or not determined to improve my sense of direction, I set off map in hand.  I found the harbour, I found a lovely lady to walk and talk with for a while but I never found my beloved beach from the day before. Two hours later, and my time slipping away, I was still walking along the shore and walking and walking... and walking... every little while taking out the map and thinking OK, not that far now.

Time dictated that if I didn't start heading home (where ever that was!) I'd become a permanent Israeli resident. I moved inland, stumbled upon a bus stop, pointed at the map, tried to utter what little Hebrew I knew to the bus driver and with some difficulty he understood where I wanted to go "Aaaah, you want Tel Aviv?"....

Yes, I had walked straight out of Tel Aviv... with a map and possibly the best navigation tool in the universe- the sea.

I'm not complaining the 2hr walk
was beautiful- just in the wrong
The destination I was aiming for...

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