I like a lot of things about trip preparation, but

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
Trip End Feb 14, 2010

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Friday, January 22, 2010

I like a lot of things about trip preparation, but packing isn't one of them. Look! I'm putting my underwear in a bag....

Since the only part I find diverting is seeing how little I can take with me, I usually put off the chore until the last moment. But my colleague Rich gave me this great piece of advice. So although I began packing only an hour before leaving for the ferry, I had fun.

Rich advised searching closets and drawers for all the things I never wear -- or never SHOULD wear -- and taking them to India. All those t-shirts loved ones brought back from trips, all the pants that don't really do it for me anymore, all go into my bag for me to wear for a day. Then I just leave them where I am in India, to be adorned by someone who thinks an I Love NY t-shirt is the cat's PJs.

I find it hard to get rid of things, so this literal and metaphorical closet airing is revelatory. With one swift packing gesture, I clean out some drawers, cut down on my laundry and donate some slightly soiled garments. As a result, I'm carrying more stuff for 3 weeks than I did for 3 months. But I think I'll still squeak in as a carry-on passenger.


For some reason many IBM colleagues in Burnaby comment on my bag. I guess it is a bit unusual to arrive at work with a backpack, but the thing that surprises me is how both Dana and Homa say "Is that what you're taking to India?" yet they mean the complete opposite. Dana implies it's so tiny she couldn't fit in her cosmetics, while Homa gives me the sense I could be carrying a body inside.

I swore I'd never do another presentation on the eve of travel, but in a graphic display of penny-wise pound foolishness, IBM has banned all non-client travel expenses. They won't even pick up the ferry fare to Vancouver, let alone fly me over to meet my co-wokers. So the only time I've ever met the team I've worked with for more than a year is when I piggy-backed a visit and presentation onto the trip to drop off Emma, my 18-year-old daughter, at the Vancouver airport for the start of her 100-day trip to India last October.

Today's trip to the Burnaby office zipped along on the kind of timeline the Queen must live by. After 5 hours of transit from the Victoria via car, ferry, buses and SkyTrain, I arrived a lean five minutes before my presentation time -- and I was reviving the Powerpoint right until the bus stopped. It's a stressful way to prepare for a speaking engagement, but other than saying a few things that may have been impolitic (know who is in your audience, Mike), everyone seemed happy.

I get to spend the evening with my old friends Tim Chan and Sarah Gee. Nothing unloads stress like singing along to any number of horribly wonderful hits of the last half century. Who knew the band America had so many songs that had seeped into my subconscious, words blissfully mangled by my psyche. We get so involved in singing and talking that I never get to see Sarah's new work up close. She's successfully reinvented herself yet again as a collage artist. When I return from the trip and relook at her work, I realize there's something faintly Indian about many of these constructs.
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