It is time to pack up!
The article is about the craziest and most memorable month(August 2018) of my life. The particular episode described below is what made it outlandishly wild. This is how it starts.
I was travelling 6748km( that is what google tells me!) to Stockholm from Kolkata, India. A graduate student pursuing a master's program in Space Engineering from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology would be my identity. A new country with unknown people and unexplored culture. Intimidating yet exciting! Having stayed under the loving arm of my parents, safe inside the protective wall of my home, all my life, venturing out into the world for the first time was definitely giving me cold feet.
The next task in my journey to the foreign land was to pack 24 years of my life in two bags of 23kgs each. Surprised? Well, I was terrified! First of all, how does one convert the units? No matter what, this needed to be done. So, without much ado, let's dive straight into the mission. Word of caution, the mission came with its own constraints. Let me list them for you.
Air India allowed two bags of 23kgs each and a handbag of 7kgs. So as already stated, that is the threshold value.
If possible, I was supposed to carry kitchen essentials, possibly some dry food, to help me in the first few days of my stay. Stationery such as pens and notebooks, adapters, WiFi routers, toiletries, and everything needed to be on the packing list. EVERYTHING WILL BE TOO EXPENSIVE once I am in Stockholm compared to India (obviously!). Therefore, I am supposed to fill up my stocks as much as possible from home.
Suppose I was just relocating to some other city in my own country. In that case, there is always a possibility of being back home in a few months or so. This was not the case here. I was looking at a period of at least one year. So I had to pack, keeping in mind this time frame. Also, shipping an international package would be costly. So I have got to save as much as I can. Repercussions of foreign education, it is called.
Finally, I was travelling alone, so having to manage 46kgs of luggage gave me some nightmares.
Hence, keeping these constraints in mind, I started on this mammoth task. Advice kept pouring from all over. Families and friends (families mostly, again, obviously!). Everybody had their own suggestions regarding preparing the perfect packing list. Finally, my checklist was prepared by combining all ideas from different sources and adding my wisdom to it.
The next step was shopping. Over the next few days, my parents and I went to different shops and bought all the stuff, ticking off the items on the checklist one by one. Special attention was given to the weight of the items (reasons already stated above), and the item's utility was also considered. Some of the notable buys were;
Two trolley bags (large enough to sustain 23 kg)
Pressure cooker ( I was very very angry at the thought of having to carry it but had to give in to my father's persistence.)
Spike buster and travel adapters (very essential since most of my gadgets wouldn't plug into the Europe power socket.)
WiFi router (more important than food, since the Internet is essential nowadays, right?)
steam iron (isn't there a correlation between graduate studies and ironed formal shirts?)
Shampoo, soap, handwash, toothpaste, etc. (in generous amounts to last me one year. I will not spend an extra penny on these things there !)
Stationery items, including notebooks, pens, calculator, etc. (C'mon, I am going there to study.)
I was going to Scandinavia. Therefore you might wonder why one of the essential items, i.e., winter wears, is missing from my list. First, it makes sense to buy it in Stockholm since I don't think the winter clothes available in Kolkata are suitable enough to sustain the Nordic winter. Secondly, it would make my luggage heavier. However, I did pack whatever winter clothes I had at home.
Finally, the day arrived. Until now, we had been dumping the items purchased for my stay abroad in the new trolley bags. But now, they needed to be packed efficiently. So, with a day left before my flight, my father took up the responsibility of the packaging. He ensured that every inch of the space in the trolley was utilized. Also, he divided the weight between the two bags intelligently. But, as usual, everything does not work out perfectly in the first run, does it? Therefore, naturally, after the 1st round of packing, the bags weighed around 26 kgs each.
Round 2 commenced! On a side note, let me tell you that lifting the bags on top of the weighing machine and recording the reading on the scale was a task in itself. Moving forward, the next step was elimination. This episode was sad. I had to let go of some of my favourite tops and jeans and, above all, my treasured diary containing all my writing throughout the years. My father promised to send them by parcel. We could surely do with the cost of a one-time courier.
This amused me the most!
My home turned into a grocery store for the next few hours. Instead of weighing the whole bag, each item left out was considered separately this time. This weight was then subtracted from the total weight. Then, reordering of the items amongst the two bags was done based on the updated calculation. It was nearing midnight, and I had an early morning flight. Finally, with a few more rounds of elimination and optimization, the packaging was completed.
My brother carried the bags down the staircase of our building into the carriage of the car and onto the trolley at the airport. After this, I take over.
P.S 1: I sneaked a pair of heels into the hand luggage without the knowledge of my father because he was already freaking out at the number of clothes I was carrying.
P.S 2: After arriving in Stockholm, I learned that Air India allowed a third 23kg bag as compensation for student relocation if I showed them my admission letter from the university.