Flu Shot Day Gets Odd

Alright, it’s flu shot day. I’m not terribly fearful of shots, but it certainly harkens to a more innocent time in my psyche. It calls back to a time when that was a primary worry; a worry of quick poignant pain that goes away much quicker than it set into your gut with on the way to the doctor. But now I am an adult. I am an adult that works at the University of Minnesota with great benefits, even if at times, those health benefits feel like the job’s sole benefit. One such benefit is free flu shots to everyone on campus including students, staff and faculty that are simply willing to stop by or make an appointment. Today was my appointment.

I received the google calendar alert that I had set for myself so that I would remember to go to this quick appointment. I have had a slight propensity to consecutively miss said appointment unless I remind myself electronically. The flu shots come to us by way of nursing students in what is called the great hall of the building in which I work. They come by twice a month from October to February. It gets very busy, hence the appointments that fill up quick require a request a month or so in advance, hence my ease in forgetting an appointment I may have made for several months later.

Part of my personal routine is that I regularly commute 6 miles to work via my bike. Today was no different. I biked in the brisk Minnesota fall morning air and still got a good sweat going. It’s because of this commute that I must bring a change of clothes. Once I arrive, I do a few things to get situated and help others do likewise, next I go to the bathroom and apply deodorant, change out of my dorky biking clothes, wash and style my hair, and then put on the clothes I bring with me that are a bit more work suitable than a bike jersey and a sweaty long underwear shirt. Today I had forgotten the undershirt to go under my buttondown. I never go without an undershirt, but it’s no big deal, so I shrug it off and button up my dress shirt.

Slowly a haze of familiarity begins to dawn as I go about my day. By 10 a.m. I am in full blown deja vu. Then I hurry to the computer to check what is becoming so familiar and I was reminded. In the alert that I had sent myself about the appointment, I made a note to tell myself to remember and undershirt because you need to be in a t-shirt as they prefer to stick you in the shoulder. One cannot access the shoulder in a button up dress shirt. I had done this before almost exactly one year ago.

I started to think about what I could do. I really didn’t relish being the only person to take their shirt off to get a shot in the great hall with a hundred or so people in there. I’m not particularly modest, but I’m not “shirtless guy” either, and shoot, I was at work. I checked the lost and found, but it yielded no results. I strolled around and checked the coat room that can tend to have things that have been left behind, but nothing there either. The last thing that I could think of was asking our marketing manager who tends to end up with free things often ranging from movie posters to t-shirts, so I went to her.

I walked in her office and asked if she had a t-shirt that I could borrow. She looked confused so I interrupted my thought to word-vomit my anniversary of my now consecutive mistake. She tells me that I need to set an alert to email myself, to which I agreed without explaining that I had done so and ignored my own advice in writing. I then clarified that this was about getting a flu shot to which she began to yell at me about putting poison in my body. “Oh, shit,” I thought. I forgot she was an anti-vaxxer. She thinks immunity shots and such are the banes of modern health. Honestly, I couldn’t even do it. Someone doing so well for their self that they need to find things to feel upset, degraded, duped or outright oppressed over really eats at me. Particularly because this is almost exclusively an upper-middle-class American thing alone. Ignoring science and using pamphlet proof for your argument is an affront to human development in my opinion. But I digress. This isn’t about that, and she realized that I’m not the one to say this to so she eased up and I didn’t have to say anything other than inferences. I then told her that if she didn’t have the shirt, I was just going to take my chances with the shot, she rolled her eyes and I left for the appointment.

I filled out my medical and work info and sat down with this early 20 something nursing student. I asked to verify where the shot would be administered and she confirmed that it was to be in the shoulder. I sighed and told her that I was going to have to attempt to slip my arm out. She told me the have scrubs for me to change into for such a situation, but I assured her that would really be more of a situation as this is, honestly, just quite stupid. I tried to slip my arm out after a couple buttons undone. No dice. Half the shirt was to be removed and draped as if the worst public form of seduction on recent record. As I sat there thinking about my stomach being exposed, I talked to her about my marketing manager and her beliefs on vaccines. It actually took a bit for this young student to grasp. She told me that she thought that was simply over. She thought outbreaks in California and the like, plus the media finally taking the idea on in earnest had quelled that. It made me feel good to know that she simply thought we had all just gotten past that stupid time. As I got up to leave she told me that next year I should set a reminder for myself to wear the undershirt.
I was walking back to work when I saw our IT guy walking. I told him about my shirt, that it was the second year in a row that I had done this, our marketing manager’s misinformed beliefs, and the situation with the shot. He followed up by saying that I need to set an alert to remind me about the shirt next time. I came clean and told him that I had sent a reminder for the shot and the shirt. He paused for a minute and said that I should just bring an extra set of clothes to work for biking anyway. I told him that I usually leave one there for when I for when I get caught off guard by inclement weather, but I had brought it home to wash. And as a stream of consciousness while I remembered it, I said that I started doing this last year just after having forgotten the undershirt for the last shot. He paused again to think said that I don’t need an alert now, I need a shirt with a post-it note on it. Agreed.


Goals for November

My mom has been visiting this week. It has been amazing, stressful, wonderful, tiring but absolutely necessary. She has loved my apartment and my little neighborhood. I was a little tourist in my home and saw this city through my mothers eyes. We visited a Buddha and I found some serenity that I’ve searched for in my life. I would like to explore Buddhism and am looking for a temple or community to visit. My mother’s visit has set up my writing for the month of November. After three months in Hong Kong and two more before my holiday break I think it’s a good time to set some goals. My mom’s presence helps me define my personal goals. I want to have friends. Good friends. Friends that I can watch a movie with and eat dinner. Friends that I feel less anxious about giving my time to. I want some spirituality on my life. For the month of November I’m going to be writing about my Personal Goals, Professional Goals, Traveling Goals, and Consumer Goals.

Also this is what I wrote after my Autumn break:

I have had holiday this week and it’s been bliss. I’ve had time to myself to enjoy. My city and

reset so that I feel prepared for the coming quarter. My mother is visiting in 1 week and that

just makes everything that much sweeter. What did I do this holiday? Well, I started by going

on a Secret Island Party and doing a little dancing but mostly observing. Hong Kong is filled with

30ish bankers and business people who feel a need to prove their hipness while working for the

“man”. It’s an interesting contrast to the Cape Town mentality of living for the moment

supported by the privileges that afford this mentality. If I seem negative I don’t mean to. It’s

just interesting to see different iterations of millennials at play. Next I enjoyed cocktails in my

neighborhood with a coworker and a friend of hers who just passed by. It confirmed my love of

my neighborhood. It’s called Tai Hang and not only can you get scrumptious food in its many

restaurants in the grid but you can get your car fixed too! I want a neighborhood that I can

enjoy but that also provides unexpected delights. I believe that the best cities are a “moveable

feast” and Hong Long is starting to reveal where I can go. I spent some time working hard on

my classes.

The Beauty of Black Holes

I have this friend, well, I had this friend…honestly, the friendship is most likely over. I’ll back up a bit. I had an intervention with a friend. It wasn’t organized. It wasn’t planned. The damned thing just happened to leave a gaping wound in our relationship. There is no parlance to be met and nothing to be taken back. I told my friend that I think he is actively dying due to his heroin use.

Yes, heroin. In one small swoop of life choices and connections, I have become the person that was confided to about the usage and presumably the only person to be able to say anything. And I said something. I opened my mouth and out poured everything from my heart down to my gut. It was an unprecedented unpleasantness.

About 10 years ago I had a very good friend that was more than a bit of a celebrity. We were very close, akin to brethren. We called each other as soon as Friday afternoon rolled around, every Friday. We were in our mid/late twenties defining our lives through whatever means we had. He was a musician by trade. Never had a job in his entire life because he was a true wunderkind from his teen years on. I was on every list to see his shows and I went to almost every single one. Most of our time was spent at my house in my basement making music and watching this virtuoso do his thing. It was some of the fondest memories I have, and I know this will be a constant.

Around the time I met my musician friend, I met another friend at work. He was a loner. I mean real loner. He rarely spoke, but when he did it was with such stoic purpose that it was captivating and intimidating. Everyone just gave him his space. We worked in customer service and he blatantly read at the registers which was severely frowned upon, but no one had the gumption to stop him. We bonded almost immediately. I’ve always been drawn to my male friends as some sort of James Dean caricatures. I want effortless happiness, but what I get are troubled men with severe issues and they bond with me fairly readily. I am the opposing magnet to them. They may present the danger and anger, but I hold the anger and structure. I am every girl in a romantic comedy rolled into a smallish man. I don’t necessarily want to change them as the female rom-com protagonist may, I want to exercise my brooding nature by virtue of proximity to someone that can’t contain theirs. Maybe it’s a selfishness that I will never define; perhaps I want to feel beauty next to chaos or perhaps they just make sense to me. Either way, I can’t fully grasp the truth nor could I admit it if I did.

These two friends lived in juxtaposition. One was successful, charismatic and boisterous. The other was captivating, calm and collected. Both were looming personalities with shadows bigger than what could be seen and both were drawn to me. I generally think I’m a funny, decent, loving person, but nothing really explains how quickly both of these people took to me. These relationships grew so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to take stock in what was really happening. My musician friend and I’s relationship grew to us being nearly inseparable while my quiet friend at work only opened up to me and everyone was entranced by how I got him to open up. The only issue was that I did nothing to foster either relationship. I was just there and welcome to the rapport.

Flash forward a decade and I still work at the same place. I have moved up a bit through a couple positions, but my work friend is still relatively stagnant. Things have been tough for him professionally. My strides have not been easy, but they seem effortless compared to him. He still can’t communicate. He’s still the brooding figure at the workplace, but he knows almost everything there. People joke that we are alike in some undefined way. No one has ever succinctly been able to place it. I don’t necessarily disagree, I just don’t see it the way others do. Maybe what scares me is that similarity that everyone was so quick to point out about us because 6 months ago he told me that he was a heroin addict and that if he didn’t take time off of work to get clean, he was going to die.

I had sensed issues with him prior to this massive opiate bombshell. We hadn’t been speaking like we normally do–and given that I’m the guy he talks to at work–means that he’s not talking to anyone. We had been drifting and I just didn’t innately understand him the way I used to, but I had assumed it was because I had a kid and I was just thinking differently or adapting personally. When I really noticed his personal darkness, I forced him to have lunch with me. I told him that it was my treat and he sat frighteningly quiet slowly eating his burger as I attempted small talk in efforts to reestablish a connection. Right before we each finished our meals, he confided that he has had several friends OD from heroin use in the last few weeks and that he fears for his lifestyle. I knew he confided this in me because it would be confidential and that he knew my famous musician friend had also struggled with heroin. It seemed like a small weight was lifted and we talked somewhat earnestly for the first time in a long time. Two weeks later he came to me at work, broken and said that he was ferociously addicted and he needed to leave work to get clean or he was going to die.

The tiny rat on the wheel in my brain ran into hyperdrive. Nothing made sense. How were these two figures in my life on opposite ends both dealing with arguably the harshest of addictive chemicals? What was going on? What does this say about me? Why were both of these drastic personalities around me? What had I put out there? No matter. Focus on moving forward. Help whenever I can and move forward. Can’t dwell in the darkness.

My colleague took almost 3 months off from work to get clean. He didn’t go to a specific treatment facility, but he talked to several doctors and was prescribed two different medications to cut down on the cravings. After that time, he came back to work. He came back, but he was not the same. He was a shell. Every compelling ounce of that man was drained. He struggled with the most minor physical and mental tasks. I talked to him frequently in the beginning, but it waned. He simply wouldn’t talk much to me. I had to elicit every syllable from him. Our effortless, albeit succinct, conversations dried up and I realized that he only talked to me about his addiction because of my relationship to my musician friend/opiate-abuser.

People stopped saying that we reminded them of each other. We were our own persons. There wasn’t the undefinable draw to each other that once was, but not without trying on both our parts. Recently, he has been falling asleep at work at his desk. He does this almost daily. I try to walk by to talk to him to wake him up. I don’t want him in trouble with the boss while his meds seem to sap any form of energy from his already calm demeanor. This has been going on for more than a month and now he’s not known as the guy that only talks to me at work, he’s simply the quiet guy that sleeps at work and no one does anything about it.

Last week he passed out. He didn’t fall asleep. There was a noticeable difference. I was tasked to take him home. He fell passed out a handful of times in the 20-minute ride to his parents house. He’s been living there since beginning steps to cope with the addiction. He told me that he had a concussion and all was to be ignored because of this. Clearly there’s a real issue with someone with a concussion passing out so easily also.

He took a couple days off of work and when he came back he was uncharacteristically jovial. No one knew how to take it, so the just did it with an awkward smile. This lasted about one hour total, after which he couldn’t remain conscious for more than a few seconds. I begrudgingly told my boss and she forced him out and I was again tasked with taking him to his parents. On the ride, I asked him about the concussion and he told a foggy tale about being knocked out and robbed while outside a bar with a friend because they wouldn’t give a stranger a cigarette. I asked if the friend had left him there to wake by himself. He said it was so. I asked what happened to the friend and he admitted that he didn’t know through closed eyes. I inferred that they must have been noticeably intoxicated on something for a friend to leave and not to know what really happened from either party. He affirmed and passed back out.

His breathing grew sporadic. His body was simply forgetting to do its primary function so I began talking intermittently and tapping the brakes on the care to keep him jostling awake. Once we arrived at his parents, he waved me away, but I followed and sat him down outside. He lit a cigarette and slowly placed it on his leg and let it burn his pants. I moved his arm to stop any smoldering and told him that I am watching him die and that we both know it. He barely opened his eyes to say that he was sober and that this was a concussion. The knockout blow had occurred 4 days prior and this was simply not regarding that. This was it. This was the drug back in his life, but now he can’t be honest to me any longer.

His mother stepped out. She was a sweet lady in her late 60’s that had simply moved past this. She was actively ignoring. It made me upset at first, but then I realized that I’m not sure what this would do to me psychologically as a parent. It’s unfair for me to judge, although I found it disturbing that she spent more time baby-talking the cat than addressing her son phasing in and out of consciousness before her. I suddenly became the authority. She started to ask me what I thought it was. If I thought it was because of the concussion. If I thought he was on drugs again. Then she would talk to her cat, which was really his from a lifetime ago. From a sober time when he decided to get a cat prior to having to move back in with his parents as everything else was eaten by the drug. He rose slightly back into coherence to look at me when she asked if I thought it was the concussion. I looked at him and I looked at her and said that it wasn’t. She asked if it was drugs and I said, as one of his eyes focused on me sunken in his swaying head, and I said that we all know it was.

I inhaled and sighed out to tell her that he told me that he had used recently while we were talking outside. I also told her that the reason that I know these things with any certainty was because I had a friend. I had a friend that he knew. A friend that was a musician. This friend used less heroin than he did. This friend of mine also died by having a drug related seizure in his sleep, bit his tongue off, and asphyxiated on his own blood. His mother essentially said that was off-putting.

Over the next 3 hours, his father got home and I got him up to speed. I explained my unfortunate knowledge on this subject and looked as my friend eyes would go from closed, to open and filled with hazy hatred. His parents asked what they should do. I had no goddamned idea. I called a few clinics on their behalf and told them that they have to take him to the ER. They acquiesced and I waited to watch my shell of a friend shuffle to the car and be loaded in.

This has eaten me up for days. Then, on Halloween I got a text from my friend. He told me that I have no respect for him. That I have a lot of gall getting his elderly parents worked up for nothing. He essentially categorized me not simple as no longer a friend, but a full-blown enemy.

My wife has helped me center. She has gotten me to a point where I feel comfortable with my decision, but I am wrecked about the idea of his first day back at work, should he come back. He has until Thursday to get things tentatively under control, although I’m not sure where the boss really lands on the entire thing. We all wanted him better. We still do, but when do you let go? When do you say you’ve done all you can do?
I hate to think of things so bleakly, but I think of these two friends as some martyrs for my darker self. I have such a propensity for issues and personal torture. I wrap myself in my depression. I dwell on all the mistakes I make or perceive to make. One friend, I feel I let die because I didn’t make the right decision to stop him. The other friend has me eating myself alive because I made the decision to try to stop him. The may have been guardian angels for worse decisions on my part. Maybe that’s why we were so drawn together. Now if only I believed in angels. Honestly, the felt like black holes in my life. Not in a bad way, really. They sucked everything in, including me. But in the vortex around them came all of these amazing things, great conversation, art and pure intelligence that I have yet to see matched from anyone other than these two fascinating men. With that vortex from their black hole, they sucked up my darkness, my sins and made it theirs until it consumed them. They did that for others too. One dies a legend and the other lives a myth.

Joy of Showing Someone Your New Home

Today my Mother comes to Hong Kong. My mom is my best friend. When something good happens she is the first person I want to contact. When something bad happens she is the first person I want to speak to.

When I lived in other countries, my life in those countries changed when I had the opportunity to share the country with someone I loved.

Having the opportunity to show someone around your new home forces you to pick out what you love about your new place. You move from being the foreigner to being the expert.

I hope that I can provide a good experience in Hong Kong. I hope that I show her everything important. I hope that I feel proud of what I have accomplished so far and that my Mom is proud of what I have done in this city. I have a lot riding on this visit.

Stay tuned for next week for a reflection on her visit.

Regulation 2.5.1

This is an email I sent a few weeks ago chronicling the latest hurdle in getting Picasso (my cat) to India.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.


Jesus Christ and Ganesha too.  It’s half past midnight, so I only have time to tell you the most ridiculous airline obstacle course I have just navigated, but I think that you will enjoy it, and oh my God do I need to tell someone who will appreciate it.

So, trying to get Picasso to Mumbai Round 17.

A week and a half ago I start looking in to booking my tickets.  Figuring out which airlines take pets in cabin, etc.  My flight in July was with United and Lufthansa, so confirm on their websites, all is well.  Also find awesome flight on United/Swiss with a 6.5 hour layover in Zurich.  Can you imagine how much I might enjoy 4 hours of wandering around pre-Christmas Zurich?  A LOT.  Indescribable amounts of A LOT.  So great.  I check Swiss website, confirm pets allowed in cabin except to specific countries listed, India is not one of them.

So now I start the calling to confirm.  I call United about space for cat in cabin on flight.  #1 Lady is amazing, very practical, efficient, helpful, and we get disconnected.  Fuck.  Call back.  #2 Lady sounds new and is convinced that cats are not allowed on flights headed for India.  I know for a fact that this is not true of United since they were about to let me on a flight in July, with a cat, headed to India.  I politely thank her and hang up.  Not about to deal with that.  Call back.  #3 Dude is not sure about the cat regulations, but kindly looks up the correct information and confirms that yes I can bring a cat (thank you, I am aware) and that yes there is space on the flights I want to book.  Great.

Onto Swiss.  #4 Dude has a great accent (bonus!) and confirms cat is allowed in cabin and yes there is space.  Yay!  Four skype calls later, and I am on a roll!  Now to book the flight.

Since I am currently in India, my Kayak has defaulted to Kayak India with prices in rupees.  I change the prices, but not the country.  Cause why should I?  I’m in India, why no use Kayak India?  So I click the link, it takes me to United to enter passenger details and payment details.  I get through all of it when I realize that my layover on the way back in Newark is only 40 minutes… so get to the international terminal with a cat and through passport control and security.  No way in hell.  Back to Kayak.  Find earlier flight to Newark.  Call United again to confirm space for a cat from Minneapolis to Newark.  Yes.  Great.  Back to Kayak, link to United, passenger details, payment details, “Oh hey!  We’ve noticed your billing address is in the USA, let us reroute you to our USA site to complete this.”  Oh wait, taken to general USA site to RE-FIND flight.  Impossible.  Back to Kayak.  Change Kayak India to Kayak USA.  Find flight.  Link to United, passenger details, payment details, DONE!  Now it’s a million o’clock in the morning, and I need to get some sleep and cannot fathom the idea of calling United or Swiss again.  Will book cat on flights later.


Call United.  —- 9:54 (12m 18s)

#1 Lady: Ummmm, no, no cats in cabin to India.

Me:  Not true, definitely called MANY times to confirm this with United and Swiss.

#1 Lady: Well, since it’s a Swiss flight from Zurich into Mumbai, we have no restrictions on our flights, but you need to be sure that they will allow your pet otherwise they will just keep in Zurich… and they don’t really keep them.

Me:  Yes, thank you.  I have confirmed both on the Swiss website and with a nice man on the phone that cats are allowed in cabin.

#1 Lady:  Okayyyyy, I will book the cat on our end, but then you need to call them to book the cat on that flight.

Me:  Yes okay, I know, thank you.

Call Swiss in US. — 10:07 (16m 56s)

#2 Lady:  No, there’s no space.

Me:  I’m sorry, can you double check?  I just called a week ago, and the nice man told me there were no other pets booked and the limit is 4 or 5.

#2 Lady:  Alright, I’ll check. ………….  Actually ma’am, cats are not allowed in cabin on flights to India.

Me:  I’m sorry, what?  The guy I talked to last time specifically said they were.

#2 Lady:  Maybe he was looking at the flight from Mumbai to Zurich.

Me:  No, I gave him the flight number, and he checked about space available.  Is this a new regulation?

#2 Lady:  No, I’m sorry ma’am.  It’s not possible.

… much more politely insistent conversation about this, the fact that I was given wrong information, and that now I would not be able to take this flight and could they change my ticket, no only United can, so call them, but you made the mistake, so they will make me pay for your mistake, I’m sorry, can you take the cat as cargo?  so I would check her in as cargo in Zurich?  No, you would have to do that in Newark or maybe even Minneapolis?  So I would have to pay for cargo on two separate airlines and trust she’ll make the connections and then be fine arriving in Mumbai?  No thank you, fine, I’ll call United.

Call United.  —- 10:37 (3m 39s)

#2….. Literally cannot remember this call.  Did I give up while on hold?  Did I call to ask about the possibility of a free change of flight?  I think so, but I have no idea.

Call Swiss in Switzerland.  10:31 (10m 42s)

#4 Lady tells me the same story about cats not being allowed, blah blah, more blah, horrible.

Call Swiss in US…. just to confirm the “no cats story” AGAIN — 10:52pm (13m 27s)

#5 Dude – no ma’am, there’s no space for a cat on that flight.  ….. (no space?  but now they are allowed?)

Me:  Well, can you check a different day? I called just last week and there was space, can’t believe so many people bringing their pets to India.

#5 Dude:  *chuckles*  Of course.  …. Not until the 13th.  Maybe before?  Oh no, there is no space at all.

Me:  Well thank you very much for your time.  (WTF?  How are cats now allowed?  Apparently I am out of luck either way… fuck, better call Lufthansa to confirm pets are allowed and then United to see about changing ticket to Lufthansa codeshare.)

Call Lufthansa in US. —- 10:43 (7m 33s)

#6 Lady confirms pets allowed in cabin, double-checks at my request.

Call United in US. — 11:10 (35m 29s)

#7 Lady is very helpful, but not telling me what I want to hear.  Can change flight from Minnesota to Mumbai, but it will have to be a Lufthansa flight since they are the only airline allowing cats in cabin to India, and am I SURE they will let me??, because I need to be SURE…. (yes, thank you, I am VERY aware)  And $400 fare difference and $200 change fee, and I’ll have to make sure I call Lufthansa right away to book the cat cause if that doesn’t work out then I’ll just be calling her back to change the flight again, and maybe I should just check with PetSafe the United pet cargo shipping, and more info, and how much would it cost me to just cancel my ticket?  Euro 190 = $213, but just check with PetSafe, here I’ll transfer you…

#8 Dude has what sounds like a grumbly Eastern European accent, and I like him already.  Ask about shipping cat to India, oh boy the paperwork, you need to go through a broker (yes thank you I am aware) but here let me find you this guy’s number in Mumbai (what?  really?  sweet!), grumble grumble, oh they will charge you 40,000 rupees if you don’t have the paperwork, that’s just ridiculous, can’t believe that, still looking for number.  Okay, Dr. Vijay at the Animal Quarantine office in Mumbai, here’s his number.  Oh wait, let me give you his cell number too.  (ARE YOU SERIOUS HOW COME NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO GIVE ME THIS DUDE’S NUMBER BACK IN JULY????)  Prices for cargo, oh boy, they are going to charge you a lot, and keep in mind that if the container is slightly too big they’ll bump you into the next category and that $200 more.  Crazy.  (I joke that I should just adopt a street kitten cause there are plenty.  He finds this hilarious.  I love him.)

Call Swiss in US —- 11:46 (16m 41s)

Me:  Hi, I’ve had a rather complicated evening, …. briefly explain problem…. what are the chances that I can get Swiss to reimburse me the cancellation fee because I was given incorrect information?

#9 Dude:  I can give you the email address to send that question to.

Me:  Great, when can I expect a reply?

#9 Dude: Usually within a couple of hours.

Me:  Cool, so would you humor me and just triple check this for me because I feel like I am getting a slightly different story every time I call, and maybe your computer will have the story that says I can bring my cat.

#9 Dude:  Sure, no problem, just give me a minute…….  Okay, looks like you can’t bring cats in the cabin on flights to India.

Me:  Okay, thanks for checking.  Now, I know you are not the website guy, but someone needs to fix that because on your website it lists the countries that you are not allowed to bring pets in cabin to, and India definitely is not on the list.

#9 Dude – Hmmmm, let me just check some more……..  I see that it’s restricted.  If you are changing residency…

Me:  YES!  YES!  I AM!  I just moved here to Mumbai, so I am changing residency.

#9 Dude – Okay, so it looks like you need xyz documents, blah blah blah blah, yes, you can bring your cat because of the exception.  You will need to submit the documents at least 3 days in advance of your flight.

Me:  Okay…. confirm understanding of information and timeline.  confirm again.  Make him check AGAIN….. Okay, so since probably I will not get you next time I call, what can I tell the person to look at to find this information?

#9 Dude:  You can just tell them to check the manual.

Me:  Yay!  Thank you!

Call Swiss in Switzerland —– 12:10am (3m 16s)

Me:  Hi, I just spoke to an agent in the US and wanted to confirm what I was told about bringing a cat in cabin to Mumbai.

#10 Dude:  No ma’am, not possible.  We get updates regularly and to my knowledge it is not allowed.

Me:  Yes thank you, but could you just check please?

#10 Dude: Ma’am, we get the most up to date information, and cats are not allowed in the cabin to India.

Me:  Yes, but I am changing residency, so is there no exception?  Could you please check?

#10 Dude:  Ma’am, if you don’t want to take my word for it you can call back and speak to another agent.

Me:  Okay, thank you.  (FUCK YOU.)

Call Back Swiss in Switzerland —– 12:14am (7m 5s)

Me:  Hi there, I have a rather strange question.  I am calling to confirm the information on your website and that I was given by another employee.  I’m just triple-checking my information because I have gotten a few different stories.  Can you confirm that it is possible to bring a cat in cabin on a flight to India if I am changing residency and moving the cat to India?

#11 Dude:  Yes of course, just a moment…. Yes, you’ll need xyz paperwork, blah blah blah….. Here let me read you the regulation…..  Here is the email address you’ll need to email the paperwork to and the timeline, etc.

Me:  Amazing!!! Thank you so much.  And can you just tell me where you found this information so that I can best direct the next person?

#11 Dude:  Of course, you can tell them it is in the Passenger Regulation Manual, chapter 2.5.1

Me:  I love you.  Run away with me.

Call Mom in Minnesota to tell her the story.  She asks if it’s possible to get my hands on a copy of this passenger regulation manual because SHE IS A GENIUS.

Quick google search.   Nothing.

Swiss website search.  Nothing.

Better worded google search.  BINGO Russian website with url.

Copy paste https://manuals.swiss.eom/prm/passengerregulationmanual/2/9/Pages/2.9.1.aspx.  No.

Change out numbers in url for 2.5.1.  No luck.

Use just https://manuals.swiss.eom. No.

Realize that “.eom” is probably just a typo and not a real ending.  Fix it.  —->   YESSSSSSS, welcome to Swiss intranet site….. username and password???

Copy and paste random things from Russian site…… I AM IN!

And there, in all of it’s glory, is chapter 2.5.1 which CLEARLY STATES:

TO INDIA (update 21AUG13)
The Indian Government has restricted the import of PETC/AVIH. Import as PETC/AVIH is permitted
if a pet is imported for the first time by an owner who is transferring residence to India after a minimum 2 years of continuous stay abroad or if the pet is being re-imported into India .(Timatic: 21AUG13) 
In addition following documents must be presented:

  • health certificates from country of origin and
  • a No Objection Certificate *NOC* from the Animal Quarantine and Certification Services (AQCS)      (arranged at least 15 days prior to import in India)

Since the SSRs AVIH/PETC remains closed on flights to BOM/DEL, check the import restrictions in the TIMATIC and follow the process below if conditions are fulfilled. Since several departments are involved, the email to Ground Services must be sent at least 3 working days prior departure and would be declined otherwise.   

  1. Request  Documents From Passenger And Forward It Together With PNR Address To Ground Services (Do Not Pass On Email To Passenger, Internal Use Only)

  2. Enter The SSR PETC Or AVIH With *MN*: E.G. 4/PETC NN1 S1 N1*1CAT 4KGS INCL PETPACK 55X40X23CM. IMPORTANT: The SSR Shall Be Entered Immediately After The Email To Ground Services Was Sent And Not Before. This Grants A Smooth Handling

  3. Ground Services Will Verify The Documents

  4. DQQ Will Afterwards Confirm KK / Decline NO SSR AVIH/PETC Accordingly

Ganesha… remover of obstacles.

The End

A much needed break

After today I will be on holiday for a week. I am so excited for the opportunity to recharge and restart. My year has been challenging so far. I think its been harder than I had anticipated both in terms of moving to a new country and starting at a new school. I am looking forward to starting again but with a lot more knowledge and understanding of how the school runs and what my life looks like routine wise.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the path that learning takes. Every Tuesday I ride the tram to my rugby training. I leave my house at 7pm, on the tram at 7:10. This route has become more and more familiar and I am almost able to visualize where I am in the city and be able to tell whats coming next. School has been kind of the same. We are on a two week schedule and instead of never knowing what class I am teaching the next day I am starting to be able to make a guess. Unfamiliar becomes familiar becomes learned.

I am ready for more routines, more familiarity. My mother will come visit in November and it will give me an opportunity to show the city and my life off. I am ready for this to happen.

Base Humans Traveling

I know that there may always be a fundamental divide with humans in automobiles and humans on bicycles. I have learned to try to phrase it this way because of the divide and motorists/cyclists relieve the discussion of its humanity. The importance of involving humanity is because, when in our own world such as walking, biking, driving or even sitting in your living room, you want your liberty to be oneself. As much as we share the streets or even the world on a daily basis we are still fundamentally solo in this endeavor which is why it’s all too easy to notice the other humans tampering with our own.

People are good. I believe this, fundamentally. It’s our understanding of what is good that conflict with others. Here’s the thing, though; people are dicks too. This dickish nature is much easier to notice especially when in my personal bubble attempting to enjoy my liberties. What am I really getting at? Everyone turns into their base id when driving. We are fundamental, and a bit carnal. I’m not sure why, but you will see someone become more aggressive, outlandish, or even passive. It just happens.

We all know the friend that loses more than just their cool when cut off on the freeway even though it does almost nothing to impact them for more than a second or two. We all know someone that seems to disobey societal structure by driving on the shoulder to get around people. But to that point we all know someone that, when walking across a somewhat busy street, make cars slow or stop for them with a devil-may-care attitude. These attitudes can give a real glimpse into one’s base self. I’m not saying this is who they really are, but I am suggesting that it is a representation of a very real part of that person.

This representation of your hidden self that comes out when travelling is something on which I have attempted personal growth. It is harder than expected. I am an apprehensive person in a car. I treat my world as everyone a second away from careening out of control. I’m a good driver, but this does little good for me as a person. What I’d like to see happen is that my base self, the one in my car or on my bike, acknowledge the humans around. I’d like to try to remember that we’re all attempting to get somewhere at that particular time. When I travel I can’t help but notice poor cyclists and drivers and the humans behind it. I have felt the wrath, caused the wrath and been the person behind the wrath. All this because of the divide from on car to another, bike to car, car to pedestrian etc. Almost every moment of real anger in a car or travelling in general, just takes a second and it’s gone from your life forever and we should try to let it be that. But hell, when the rush hour comes around I’ll probably be that angsty beast I preach against again.

Last week, I was biking with my wife and we hit an intersection with a red light stopping us. We did so accordingly and noticed a left turn arrow from the opposite direction directing traffic to pass in front of us as we waited at the curb. At this point, a driver stopped just beyond the crosswalk stopping cars behind her and began trying to wave us through. I shook my head trying to let her know that I wouldn’t go intro traffic even if she was willing to hold everyone up. She began to wave feverishly and someone honked behind her. I simply stepped off of my bike and showed here that I would not do this for the sake of my safety. Moreover, I would not do this because I fervently stand behind trying not to be a creator of such an unnecessary divide between humans on bikes and humans in cars. She was obviously trying to “just be nice” much to the ire of the several cars she was impeding though she had the absolute right of way. At this point, she grew angry, yelled something at us, threw her hands up and sped off. My wife and I looked at each other a bit astonished at just how mad someone could get by virtue of attempting to be nice and our lack of acquiescence. We briefly discussed how it was unsafe, illegal, and how she shouldn’t expect that of someone on a bike which is far more vulnerable than one in a car. We found ourselves getting angry in a how-dare-she attitude. As we did this, another car crossed in front of us, slowed, and gave a simple smile and a thumbs up. We were taken right out of our personal liberty bubble of anger and I was again reminded to try to be the person I want to be, even when travelling.