Thursday, 12 January 2012

And in the Queen's money that is?

Going on holiday is very different to moving abroad. Obvious though it is, that's about the most profound summary of my situation that I can muster. Spectacularally moving, isn't it? It's just a shame that the actual action of making the transition between countries didn't go the same way. Due to my obsessive tendency to overpack and the length of time I would be spending abroad, after several attempts at repacking, I was still left with a gargantuous, bulging suitcase and a single thought: "Somehow, I don't think that will weigh 23kg..." Oh, how right I was. A few hours later I found myself dragging this mahoosive abomination of a suitcase round and round Heathrow airport looking for the right check-in desk, which as always, is situated as far away as possible from the entrance that you came in through. 

Once I managed to stumble into the queue, after several minutes spent regaining my breath and nursing my exhausted arm, it was my turn. The moment of truth. Casually, I heaved my luggage onto the scales, using all my energy to prevent myself from vocalising my discomfort and to keep the nonchalant look on my face. 29kg. Not good. So, naturally, as any good Brit would do, I began to argue. Somehow, they couldn't understand my reasoning that people fatter than me would automatically be carrying more weight onto the plane and they are not forced to compensate this in any way. It's good to know that's how my brain responds under pressure. In the end, however, sanity kicked in and after explaining my situation, I was eventually allowed to  check-in and progress towards security. 

With hindsight, it seems certain that Britain had wanted me to give me a final taste of its rather frustrating and strange logic before I left. Flight protocols now demand us to package all of our liquids into clear, plastic zippy bags, just to make sure they are safe to be taken aboard. Fair enough, I guess. So I began the long and lengthy process of rummaging through my hand luggage, sealing my liquids in individual bags, and then replacing them. However, the poor numpty on the table opposite wasn't paying attention, and insisted that I repeat the proccess for his benefit. In order to avoid a confrontation with security, I reluctantly obliged, and successfully managed to contain my complaints. But really, both of us didn't really want to be there so what would have been the harm with letting me pass through and each one of us getting on with our lives?! That's the British mindset I guess. However, once I had finally finished redressing myself after an over-invasive security check, the final hurdle to leaving Britain was approaching: currency exchange. 

I love having foreign money. Not only does it make me feel all windswept and interesting, but due to a wonderful thing called exchange rates, I instantly feel as if I have more. Sadly though, those doing the exchanging are aware of this and take advantage of our distracted state. Well, at least that's what it seems to me, since every time I exchange money, a portion of my finances magically disappears in the transaction. Offering us the opportunity to exchange one pound for a greater amount of a different currency, whilst we are marvelling at our 'intelligence' for the 'bargain' we have just made, I am sure that they must pocket a few quid. Now, I have been told that there are taxes or other such evil measures levied onto currency exchange, but it remains difficult to escape from the scenario that my over-active imagination has provided me with. 

However, all that is now in the past. Being in my fifth month abroad, surely, one would think, that by now I should be adjusted to the new currency. Oh, how wrong one could be. Whenever I find myself with the need to pay for something, which happens quite regularly as you could imagine, I am still, after all this time, unable to deduce whether something is expensive or not. Standing at the front of the queue, struggling to cope with the simple mental arithmetic that I should have perfected in the early years of my childhood, it takes me a good few moments to work out the true value of my Diet Coke. Furthermore, the speed of this process is not helped in any way by the frustrated locals muttering, what I can only assume to be complaints, behind my back. 

I have always said to myself that I will cease to be a tourist when I am able to speak the language and be comfortable with the currency. Seeing as I am still unable to understand the criticisms that my fellow queue-ees so eagerly offer, and that in my wallet, I am embarrassed to say, I still carry around a few pennies, I am pretty sure that this moment has not come.  Judging by my progress, this milestone does not seem likely to reached for an awfully long time.   


Dan Hillman said...

I agree with your argument about heavy people on planes and having lost the argument a few times I no longer pack a suitcase just stuff my luggage under my shirt till I look like a world champion pie eater then go through checkout.

Alon Nachshen said...

Ha ha! That could be the way to go!

Anonymous said...

haha cows

Anonymous said...

Lol, I love your blog!!

JAWS said...

I believe I have spotted this amazing species on the different beaches we have visited, as well as Disney World. I being a tourist myself in these areas try to do a better job of blending in. The speedos stay at home and I wear long swim trunks. However it is easy to spot me on the beach sans shirt for the first few days. Be careful not to stare directly at me because the glare of true sun off of my pale white skin may be harmful. At least until the tan base gets started.
You have me motivated to post a blog about spotting the even more rare mullet wearing species. As the years go by they become closer to extinction, and usually only make an appearance during a NASCAR race or maybe a country music concert. Possibly also at social gatherings that include camo and firearms.

Alon Nachshen said...

So true! Being British, I too have rather pale, reflective skin!
Good luck with your own post and thank you for the support!

Happy blogging!

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