The wan­der years

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

SO, here­with, notes to my younger trav­el­ling self. I was tuned into the al­ways-amus­ing Richard Glover on 702 ABC last week and he asked lis­ten­ers to pro­vide gems of ad­vice to give the 16-year-old ver­sions of them­selves.

“Al­ways wear a bra,” is one that par­tic­u­larly res­onated. It got me think­ing about that silly Lenny Henry and how he once said he car­ried one of his then wife Dawn French’s bras with him to use as an emer­gency ham­mock in the jun­gle when he was film­ing a re­al­ity show.

Mother called bras “over the shoul­der boul­der hold­ers”, but I di­gress. With the wis­dom of hind­sight, I re­ally want to talk to Su­san, then aged 18, on her first lone trip abroad and to point out what I now know about the per­ils and pro­to­cols of travel.

Su­san, let your par­ents know where you are be­cause if you don’t they will as­sume you are in dan­ger or dead. This is just what par­ents do.

To­day it is much worse, be­cause they will be check­ing Face­book, Instagram, Twit­ter and texts and will go into a flat spin if you don’t post up­dates.

Back then, Su­san, there was just snail-slow mail and, in In­dia, cute ISD booths in which you had to buy a chit and book your call. Even so, there was not much point pur­chas­ing that post­card of the Taj Ma­hal and then for­get­ting to post it home or buy­ing a chit and ne­glect­ing to re­turn, three hours later, to make the ap­pointed call.

Su­san, that ex­pres­sion “cast-iron stom­ach” is a load of tosh, as you well dis­cov­ered when you air­ily par­took of a day-old buf­fet be­cause you were in a rel­a­tively nice ho­tel and be­lieved the three-star rat­ing would pro­tect you against sal­monella.

When the tour guide tells you there will be bet­ter car­pets (or shawls or silks) in the next vil­lage, it is never true. His cousin is the shop­keeper in the next vil­lage and you must buy what you want when you see it be­cause you may never pass that way again.

Al­ways in­sist, Su­san, on a door with a lock so you don’t wake to a cast of vil­lagers stand­ing at the end of your bed ob­serv­ing the odd for­eigner while she sleeps. And, young lady, Mother didn’t pack your rac­quet so you could have a hit of tally-ho ten­nis in the hill sta­tions of In­dia but to thump the mat­tress and scare the day­lights out of the bed bugs.

You told her, Su­san, that you were trav­el­ling light and needed just one pair of socks but weren’t you happy that she had sneaked in an­other set when you woke to dis­cover you were sock­less on a rail­way bench, still with shoes laced but feet and an­kles bare?

That day of the great socks heist you did ring home, fear­ing told-you-so snorts of dis­ap­proval.

But Mother and Dad said, “Come back soon, we miss you.”

Pleased you were, too, that Mother had popped one of Dad’s big tear-soak­ing han­kies in your pack.

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