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Heavy question, ladies

In defiance of physics, the smaller the woman, the bigger her bags, and the more suicidal her man

Vijay Verghese/ Editor

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SINCE I WAS A KID, travelling with my mother on those long train journeys through India carting gigantic tin trunks capacious enough for a Hong Kong family of four to move into and enjoy a splendid Serengeti-style life, I have pondered an eternal question. Not why women travel. Or why they exist at all. Nor the impact on property prices of several tin trunks strategically placed in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Mumbai.

Women travel because, like men, they need to get from A to B, thoughtfully bringing along accessories for all eventualities from weather, to beach holidays and divorce. They exist because men – with their irksome guff about running the show – need to be chastised. My question concerns a far bigger issue that I shall come to in a moment.

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The only relief on those hot, dusty train journeys through India was the air-conditioning. My mother would summon the attendant and order a large tin tub. In this was placed a huge block of ice. It was my duty to drag this tub around the cabin and direct the solitary small ceiling fan on it to maximise its cooling effect. The entire exercise was of course a case of mind over matter and the only thing that saved us from heatstroke, was night, when the temperatures plunged to a soothing 38C.

Walk into any airport and you'll find armies of wizened old grannies lugging bags the size of Manhattan...

The big question is why do women always travel with OVERSIZE AND INCREDIBLY HEAVY BAGS? There is a word for all this. Impedimenta. It derives from the word “impediment” or hindrance. The bags are not the hindrance. It is any male within shouting distance who fails to leap forward immediately to help. These bags were not made to be carried by womankind. They were made to be carried by the Incredible Hulk. Walk into any airport and you’ll see armies of wizened little grannies lugging bags the size of Manhattan. No one knows how they got there, or how they’ll get out. It is one of the great mysteries of the modern world.

Whereas a man travels with one compact bag, neatly packed with items that he will actually need for the journey, a woman travels like the Moscow Circus on the move. She will ensure she has everything anybody might need sometime during the rest of their lives. A man, for instance, would be flummoxed if someone came up and asked for a comb. A woman on the other hand would simply reach into her handbag and coax from it tweezers, hair brushes of varying bristle strength, curling irons, a full length mirror, a blouse to try on, a folding chair, and several editions of Vogue to compare the latest trends in hair styling.

A woman likes to leave nothing to chance. Let me illustrate. According to the recommendations of one Women’s Travel Club that I stumbled across online, here are some of the key essentials for any trip. “…One inflatable world globe beach ball. Inflate it to show others where you live. One rubber doorstop for great security. Acidophilus pills. A wedding ring (even if you are not married – it can be a good deterrent). A good silk scarf and several cheap bandannas (great for bartering)…” The list goes on.

According to bag manufacturer Briggs & Riley, women want luggage that is “lighter, efficient, and durable”. Keeping this in mind, they have designed luggage 20 percent lighter than normal bags. Armed with such a bag, a modern woman business traveller can now revel in newfound independence, the sort of independence that only all those EXTRA inflatable globes, doorstops and barter jewellery can secure.

I have meticulously shrunk my travel items and believe that by 2015 I shall be able to pack everything into a wallet...

It has been scientifically proven in the laboratory that lady mice offered a ticket to Cannes will opt for the most expensive and biggest LV bags they can lay their hands on while simpering males of the species wring their paws in despair.

I have meticulously shrunk my travel items over the years and believe that by 2015 I will be able to pack everything into my wallet. I buy micro shaving foams, miniature toothpaste, and toothbrushes that can only be picked up with tweezers. I have apparently succeeded in shrinking my brain as well, which is why my ex-wife sometimes calls me a moron. This is good news, as morons should not be allowed anywhere near bag-heaving women.

So there I sat, trying not to make eye contact with the svelte girl in Dior struggling to heft a giant bag into the overhead aircraft bin. A stewardess rushed to her assistance, sat her down, parked the bulging bag in the aisle, offered her a drink and, following professional training-manual procedure, attempted to MAKE EYE-CONTACT WITH ME. I wasn’t buying.

One of my favourite Beatles songs might be rephrased: “Girl, you’re going to carry that weight, carry that weight, a long time…”

The stewardess AND the Dior girl looked at me again. Okay, I’m a MORON. I made eye-contact and thanked my mother for all the tin trunks I had to drag around. It was time to put that training to use. “May I help ma’am?”

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