How to be your New, Improved Self While Travelling

For years I have struggled with my inability to close my eyes and meditate. My yoga teacher, a spIendid woman who teaches yoga to some very eminent people in the city could never fathom that the moment she told me to shut my eyes and meditate, my mind would throw up images of the dabba I had to pack for the then school going daughter I was raising. If it was not that, it was some or the other worry- would the maid forget to shut the LPG valve before leaving? Would the house go up in flames by the time I got home? You get the drift…

My recent travels on various flights and hanging around in airports has taught me I can actually get lessons in self-development and move to a higher plane that we human beings ought to be in. In fact, I should thank various airline companies for making me nearly yogic Here is how:

When screaming infant in mother’s arms smears baby food all over you and then some, smile and say,” how sweet”. Be sure to look away before mother sees the red signals in your eyes. Then deep breathe and count one, two, three, four, five….

When the swarms of mosquitoes on board Indigo flights (I wonder why the mosquitoes prefer this particular airline) chew up my lower limbs, I have learnt to gently shoo them away and apply Odomos. I don’t care if fellow travellers look at me as if I were loony. Better that than malaria. The Odomos has the added benefit that it keeps the rather plump man in the adjacent seat from digging his considerable arm into my midriff. See, you can find things to be grateful for in the most morbid circumstances.

My wanderings have also made me more tolerant of the male gender, I think. How else do you explain the fact that these days I am able to control myself from interfering in a domestic scene and admonishing an uncaring husband who is lost in his Candy Crush game instead of helping his hapless wife who is unable to control the progeny who is throwing the mother of all tantrums? Hopefully, no one sees me gritting my teeth and clenching my fist to prevent me from landing one squarely on his chin.

My friends have started remarking on my slender waist and my double chin that has disappeared. While I’ve heard great things about the kybella procedure and have known plenty of people who have had it, it doesn’t look like I’m going to need it anytime soon. I don’t tell them it is not because of any great workout at the gym or a new diet regimen. It is simply that my mother taught me to eat as little as possible of food that comes from boxes. Cuppa noodles, ready to cook instant upma (if I don’t cook upma for myself at home, there is no reason I will suddenly have the patience to pour hot water into a container with rawa in it and wait for it to cook, miles into the sky) and biryani at 7am is not my cup of tea. Talking of which, I absolutely love that various tea makers now have instant mixes which I just pour into hot water in the morning when I wake up in various hotel rooms and I get a steaming cup of masala chai, just the way I like it. Nothing like counting your blessings.

Meanwhile, ever tried to eat a paneer tikka or paneer paratha on board flights? You might as well eat your kolhapuri chappal! But wait, considering that we are no longer allowed to do away with cows, there might soon be no kolhapuri chappals to eat either. Keeping the mouth zippered is a great way to shed some weight and I am practising it to great effect.

There are several other opportunities for me to practice being my better self. For instance, when I get hit in the face by the backpacks of slobs who forget that other people who also pay money to get somewhere in one piece, I have a good mind to punch them in return. I was reading about backpack carrying etiquette some time ago and it certainly does not involve blissfully turning this way and that while trying to find your seat, in the process hitting every single human being in the aisle seat with your backpack weaponry. These days I have taken to anticipating these attacks by boorish humanoids and keeping a mile away from them. I also try and smile when people of considerable girth step on my poor feet in their hurry to be the first to disembark from the plane.

Deep breathing is my new mantra and I will continue to do it even though one of these days I am in the danger of choking on the choicest #$#%#%$ words that rise to my throat and threaten to explode from my mouth when yet another badly-behaved adult, busy texting or checking whattsapp, knocks the breath out of me.

So there you are, I told you, there is good to be found even in the most excruciating circumstances.

You have to just search really hard for it!




*The views expressed in this column are the authors.

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon is an Author, a Writing Coach and a Speaker on Gender and Diversity.

You can reach her on or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
Sudha Menon