People have a lot of baggage when travelling

Batu Caves in Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur.
Batu Caves in Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur. Contributed

HERE'S a scenario that might strike a chord.

A busy international airport. A flight from Paris to Istanbul. It's my turn to check in. I approach the counter.

"Good morning, here's my passport." Cheerful smile flashed at the clerk.

A 30-second delay while the passport is scanned and a computer tapped.

"How many bags to check in?" asks the clerk.

"One, I'll put it on the belt. And I have one piece of hand luggage."

"Anything dangerous in your hand luggage?"


"Here is your boarding pass, go to gate 59."

It takes me an average of three minutes to check in.

Why then do I always get behind someone who takes half an hour?

At Charles de Gaulle airport recently I waited as one family - husband, wife, four children, one baby, 78 bags, one pram and baby car seat - took 49 minutes to check in. (I timed it.) (But I'm guessing at the 78 bags. It could have been 79.)

There was much leaning over the counter, gesticulating and shouting by the father and countless telephone calls by the clerk while the bored kids leapt all over the 78 (or 79) bags, the baby screamed and the wife had to breast feed it.

Of course later I also got behind them at immigration where they held up the queue for 20 minutes.

Once on board the plane, everyone behind the father waited and fumed as he stood and blocked the aisle for 10 minutes while organising his family's seating, changing it over and over until they were all seated in front of me, whereupon they put their seats so far back they squashed my rubber sandwich.

After landing, as I was felled to the ground by the father shoving past me to collect his 78 (or 79) bags at the baggage carousel, I meet such interesting people travelling.

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TAKE me to the Batu Caves in Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur where a 42.7 metre statue of Lord Murugan guards the entrance to the caves.

Take me there during the Thaipusam Festival when more than a million devotees flock to climb the 272 steps that lead up to the caves and temple.

It will be crowded as the devotees carry religious figures, and their friends and relatives accompany them for support - and I'll have to dodge the coconuts smashed along the way, but it will make for memories to last a lifetime.

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