Sunday, May 09, 2004

Dealing with baggage

Just WHAT do you carry in this bag, asked a thunderstruck friend recently. She’d volunteered to carry my handbag and teetered off balance in the process.

Let’s just say, I’m a bit accustomed to that question. With the accompanying expressions of bafflement, exasperation and occasionally, soreness. But it’s not like I carry a huge bag. (At least not any more.) As a matter of fact, the current one is a compact 9 1/2” x 11”. And it can be quite accommodating without seeming like a bloated armadillo lodged under my arm.

It’s a black hole, another friend mocks. I’m sure even you don’t know exactly what’s inside. Not true at all. I’d like to think of my handbag as an exemplar of organisation and foresight. So whether it’s dealing with a runny nose or a moment of ennui or even, emergency surgery, I’d like to make sure everything’s at hand.

A recent inventory revealed I just may be equipped for a nuclear holocaust:

Outer Compartment
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (current read)
- The Art of Feature Writing by Huned Contractor (for a break from current read)
- An article on ‘Avoiding Procrastination’ torn from Mid-day, April 19, 2004 (that I mean to read)
- A bandanna (to hold exuberant hair in place while in the auto)
- A pair of sunglasses
- Spectacle case
- An office I.D card

Zipper Compartment
- A wallet (we’ll get into the contents another day…)
- Spare change pouch (Totalling Rs. 200 in notes and Rs. 16 in coins)
- Lip Balm (Orange Coriander flavour!)
- A Mobile Phone
- A mini-Telephone book
- Mints (one local, one phoren)

Zipper-in-zipper Compartment
- House Keys
- A tube of lipstick
- A comb
- A Pen Knife
- A Plastic Bag (to collect litter)
- A stone from 17,500 feet in the Himalayas
- A medal from Sacre Couer.
- An Emergency Kit (containing Aspirin, Digene, Band Aid, Cotton, Safety Pins. Also, a needle and two skeins of thread. I’m paranoid about ‘wardrobe emergencies.’)

Inner Compartment
- A notebook cum diary
- Stray visiting cards
- A pack of tissues
- A Fountain Pen
- A Roller Ball (in case fountain pen runs out of ink)
- A pencil stub (in case roller ball runs out of roll)

Zip it. Sling it. Wing it.

I feel superbly in control. By alternating it between shoulders, I give the biceps on both arms the chance to tone up uniformly. And running for the train clutching the handbag takes care of cross training.

A Swiss knife of a bag, really.

The woes begin when it’s time for an evening out. How do you fit all the life-saving equipment into a purse that’s tinier than a handkerchief. Ooh, the heart-rending decisions. I almost always end up needing just the thing I leave behind. And then there’s that gnawing emptiness under the arm, the unfamiliar freedom from encumbrance, the insecurity of not being ‘prepared’…

Talk about baggage!

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