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Homecoming – Last day in SF bay area (JVP netanyahu demo, and /official/ new friend). Bus ticket drama. Glasgow returning – spontaneous outing to The Lost Boys at amusement park.

February 18, 2017 Leave a comment

JVP Netanyahu demo and Official New Friend

Wednesday. Chilled day with Y. He was working from home. I was lazing about and got snuggles during his breaks. Then I headed into SF for Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) demo protesting Trump’s meeting that day with Netanyahu and their shared values of racism, wall-building and hate-mongering. Was cool to be with other Jewish progressives, though a little disappointed there was only about 40-50 there. It was a 2 hour demo and I was only there for last bit so there might have been more attending in total as folks were coming and going. I liked the connection between zionism and to USA rhetoric and policies on migration and borders, which was expressed in chants and handmade placards.

After the demo a couple of Bay Area friends I had originally connected with from Gaza (from my trip in 2003) met me and I really enjoyed how easy and grounded in affection these relationships are. Partly I think it might be that usa (partic west coast?) culture is more emotionally demonstrative anyway, so i might just be experiencing that and feeling it as “ooo these people like me, its safe for me to open up to them too”. But regardless I’m starting to really value these other reasons for being in bay area besides Y, and this works well as both Y and I like spending time with other people too when we’re together.

I had this waffle/diner food craving, and as this was my last opportunity for it for a while, we headed to Mel’s. Mel’s is both fun, and cliched/OTT, but I’m a tourist and I kinda enjoy the OTT so I love sitting in a Happy Days set! We even used the booth side jukebox! Excitingly someone joined us who I’ve only before met with when I’ve been also meeting her partner who is an old friend of mine. We both agreed that meeting without him made us now Official Friends. She was also excited to be in SF itself, as she does the common Easy Bay resident thing of hardly ever coming over into the city.

Y joined us, and then a bit later New Official Friend, Y and I decided to go for Mexican food in the Mission – hey its my last night! I’m totes allowed 2 suppers! Then we went for a wander and ended up at the top of Dolores Park enjoying the view over the city before grabbing Indian deserts on our way to the last BART back to the East Bay. For I still needed to pack and then get up at 6am for my flight home!

Bus ticket drama

At SFO I was probably over excited by the TSA dog – so cute, though it looked pretty skinny. Luckily the excitement was not reciprocated so I got through security uneventfully, though the same was not true about getting from Edinburgh airport back to Glasgow…

So I’d managed to lose my purse containing my return bus ticket and debit card at Reykjavik airport on the way out. Pop quiz: a) I did the responsible thing and phoned lost property about it as soon as i realised, or b) I procrastinated making the scary phone call and then decided I’d just see them when I transited on my way back home only to find out that the lost property office was only open at 8:30am, was after my 4am-7am transit time? Ooops! Of course I had a chain of backup plans in case my purse wasn’t even in the airport:

1) pick up return bus ticket with bank card in iceland.
2) use debit card stored in chrome to buy bus ticket online and choose sms ticket option
3) use Y’s credit card to buy bus ticket online
4) convert $20 at edin airport (and take on chin the double commission whammy of both converting a small amount and an airport booth – I just need £11:60 for the bus ticket…)
5) once am in uk and time is more respectable (i landed 9am) start calling round friends to either buy me a bus ticket online / rescue me from airport
6) hitchhike – lots of Glasgow folks use Edinburgh airport and I was due to land at peak time (9am)

Ok, fine, so I couldn’t get my bus ticket or debit card… i just drop to option 2. After all I’ve used my card online so often I never even have to look at the CVC anymore. It turns out that my memory of that 3 digits is perfect unless its 5am and I’m on dodgy airport wifi with no way to just look at the back of the goddamned card! Fine, I’ll use Y’s credit card – he’d given me one that was about to expire anyway in case options 1 or 2 fell through. Except it turns out the citylink website doesn’t accept non uk billing addresses. Argh! More time passes and I’m like, bugger this, I need coffee[0] and then realised i could get citylink tickets on megabus website too. So off I go but now I’m struggling with the verified by visa password and Y is busy.

However the coffee was def working – some more googling and it turns out you can buy bus tickets at edinburgh airport’s tourist information booth! They’re bound to accept card payments, and Y’s given me his pin so i’m sorted! There are buses at 9:30 and 10:00 and I’m desperate to just get to my own bed by this time.

[09:00] Luckily our flight lands a bit early and I race through immigration and to the booth (in post coffee alertness at Reykjavik I’d pre-memorised the route from the online airport map)

[09:15] Possibly over sharing I tell the v friendly “welcome to scotland” person that i’ve just arrived back from travel abroad and so don’t have cash yet and so want to buy the bus ticket using my credit card and am hoping to make the 09:30 bus. She says she’s going to make sure she can give me the ticket before taking my money and then has to boot the computer an go through the complex online system. “I don’t think we have to waste time filling in your phone number and email address. I’ll just tick that you refused to give them to me”

[09:18] The printer is jammed and after several minutes she gives up trying to fix the feed and goes to another machine which thank the universe spits out the ticket.

[09:23] I put Y’s credit card into their card reader, but instead of asking for the pin, it says “payment accepted. signature required” and directs me to remove the card. So she prints the receipt and asks me to sign it. I squiggle “Praveen Kumar”[1] and hand it back.

[09:24] She flicks over the card (d’oh! of course she was going to do that! i’d forgotten that was even a thing. when was last time you signed for a card payment???) and the signature panel is blank… “Do you have any other ID with you?” Me, feigning calmness but running lateness “Oh no, I don’t have an other ID with me!”

Lets recap : 1) I’ve told her I’ve just landed off an international flight. 2) As far as she’s concerned she’s addressing a white female with an English accent. 3) The card is for an American bank with an Indian male name.

“Well I think you’ve been kept waiting long enough trying to get it printed. Turn right and then right again to get to the bus stop”

I LOVE BEING BACK IN SCOTLAND!!!! And I am very appreciative that I have bucketloads of white privilege which I am benefitting from – doubt this would have been so easy had Praveen Kumar been trying to use a card with a white chick’s name on :(

Friday – Spontaneous outing to The Lost Boys at amusement park

I arrived home at about 11am. Obviously first thing I did was put the kettle on. Ah tea, now things seem more reasonable. Ok, so I’ve had maybe 6 hours sleep since Wednesday, and I should probably change my clothes, but all I need to do today is stay awake til 8ish, go to the bank to get cash out across the counter, and get a few groceries in for the weekend. Then I’ll sleep like a baby and wake up some time tomorrow, go to the LGBTQ boxing club, and my timezone should be all fixed ready for 12 hour shift on Sunday. By 4:30pm I’ve done bank and shop chores and have cash and am planning a quiet evening and then sleeeeeeeep.

img_20170217_194454517.jpgAnd then, this being Glasgow, a friend invites me to a Glasgow Film Festival screening of The Lost Boys in a secret location, buses leaving from the GFT in 90 mins. So much for the early night plan! Accompanied by motorbikes revelling as they rev their engines to full blast we are transported to M&Ds amusement park. We bump into another friend and play on the rides opened up specially for the occasion, the park packed with excited adults in vampire/hunter dress-up squirting holy-water-pistols at each other on the big wheel and maximal audience participation through a favourite teenage movie. Much glee!

Walking home from the bus, much sleep deprived but very content with how lucky I am to come back to Glasgow, where being “cool” means showing your exuberance, participating to the max. Not sneering, but rather thrilling at and cheering on others’ dorkiness and throwing themselves into the spirit of whatever hijinks is going on.

 

 

[0] food and drink seems to feature a lot in today’s blog… To add more, as wow air doesn’t give any food on the flight I’d packed another really good picnic; hard boiled eggs, oranges, humus and veg wrap (didn’t taste good on the flight though – i know taste buds are supposed to be different on flights), smoked tofu and jerky. This time didn’t have the conveniently under 100mls water-tight containers i had last time, and the liquor store seemed confused about why i’d want a *small* bottle of alcohol (merkans and their super-sizing!) so decided to buy booze in duty-free as obvs you can carry that onto the plane. Except then I realised once aboard that i wasn’t sure if i’d be allowed to carry it onto my second flight if i took it out of the heat sealed duty free bag and opened it. so i relied on snoozing and copious pre downloaded star trek to get me through instead. I’d turned down a pal’s offer of a “medicated” jelly bean which given the TSA doggie (such cute eyes!) was lucky!

[1] Name changed to another Indian male name for privacy reasons.

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Personal update / diary : Balancing travelling with staying still

July 20, 2015 Leave a comment

I look at a map, I spin my globe, I hear about other’s travels and oh my, those feet get itchy. I love traveling a kinda ridiculous amount. Feel so free and content and happy and where I’m meant to be when I’m on the move. And so I have made travel a part of my life. I don’t want to have a big once-in-a-lifetime round the world and then settle down. And I want to be able to contribute meaningfully to those places I have privilege of going. So, 11 years ago I began my nurse training, and last year I did a Diploma in Tropical Nursing (DTN), and now I have the qualifications, and some of the experience and skills (and anyway that’s an ongoing project) and so the world is my oyster more than ever before.

Here is my 2015, past and plans:

  • Jan – last month in London, completing DTN
  • Feb – month in South India travelling and visiting friends there.
  • March – arrived back to Glasgow mid March (after London – India – London). Went to bangface festival
  • April – Passover, including hosting a seder. 3 day hackathan. Three friends staying for 5-7 days each (not at same time)
  • May – mostly quieter, apart from long weekend camping trip.
  • June to mid July – longterm lover from India/USA came to visit for 6 weeks. During this time also went to Edinburgh for a weekend AFed meeting, camping with another old friend for a few days on side of Ben Lomond, went to Barncamp in South Wales for a few days with couple days either side visiting folks in the area.
  • End of July – Manchester/peak district for AFed meeting and summer camp.
  • August – 11 day trip including epic train journey Glasgow to Berlin for £67. Then back via Oslo. End of August friend’s wedding near Manchester
  • September – Cycling Land’s End to John O’ Groats for whole month (yeah I know people can do it quicker, but I think this pace will be nicer and more interesting and *enjoyable*!)
  • October – London Anarchist Bookfair. Wilderness first aid training for 3 days (also in South England)
  • November – had been planning on going away again for 4-6 months

And that’s just the big stuff. In between have been plentiful day trips and discussion groups and online courses. I’ve learned python and been part of a small group migrating an organisation to a new server. I’ve socialised, maintained multiple relationships (sexual/romantic as well as platonic and familial – sorry to those I’ve not spent as much time with as I’d like) and worked as a nurse to fund it all.

And I’m happy with my life! I feel blessed that it is so full and interesting and full of amazing people and love and glitter and spices and music and mountains and adventure and learning and meaningful action and fun.

But every decision to do something is a decision not to do something else. And what I want right now is some more time doing things that my very footloose lifestyle makes more difficult, especially learning and doing and nurturing relationships (especially the platonic ones which can easily get elbowed out in polylife). So I decided not to go away in November. I’m still going to go away for 4-6 weeks this winter – I really don’t like the grey – but probably not til January.

And this gives me the space for other projects. I’m excited about building a robot. And doing more wilderness first aid courses. I’m looking forward to spending more time with people I adore. And sorting my flat out so that its a better nest to enable me to do other things. I want to do some winter camping too.

I also need some way of topping up finances whilst I’m away. It might be that I can get my first aid and nursing qualifications and skills to a point where I can get paid. At the moment, because I feel uncomfortable in debt, that makes travelling less pleasurable – needing to constantly look at my budget and feel pressure to have best ever time as my bank balance only ever goes down whilst I’m away.

When I started looking to travel every year, it was breaking free from the stay in one place anchors that required energy in. Inertia and commitments and fears and finances. But I needed to – I felt trapped and my life seemed lacking and the rest of the world was so unexplored and inviting and yet so far away. And now I need to find that other balance. I know that for me I also need to spend time in one place, doing the things that are best done with a more rooted home. Whilst I can do some on the road, I am not great at that yet. It might be that my travelling style is not optimal for me yet – maybe I’m moving around too frequently, still in the once-in-a-lifetime mentality of needing to cram it all in, and so not doing those other things that I want in my life which are doable on the road. For example I can do online courses whilst I travel, but these would be easier if I’m somewhere for at least a week. And actually I really like that more in-depth feeling for a place you get from some familiarity.

But right now I’m happy with my decision to be a bit more in Glasgow for the next 10 months. I am going to apply to MSF to go away in September 2016. And as I said, I’ll probably have a 6 week trip Jan-Feb – maybe to South East Asia, maybe to East Africa. But rebalancing for now means more time on the aspects of my life that scratching my itchy feet meant I have been neglecting for past couple of years, and want back :)

Categories: diary, glasgow, personal, travel Tags: , ,