An ode to a luggage bag.


“Take that one,” my friend Redzuan Sane had said.

I stared at a big lug of a blue bag glaringly different and unique in an expanse of more conventionally styled and coloured luggages in the store. The name Lojel was prominently displayed near the handle.

“Seriously?”, I had asked perhaps a bit sarcastically.

“Yes,”, he had answered, “It’s easier to spot….and sturdy.”

$380 later, I went home with the blue bag in tow, already feeling the deadweight with hardly anything inside.

A few days later, I was in Pittsburgh. Sure enough, the bag was quite easy to spot as it made its way towards me on the conveyor belt. It was also in one piece and had survived the journey through Changi, Heathrow and JFK. My friends’ luggages were sadly slipshod looking. One had burst at the seams. Another looked as if it might not survive another trip. In short, the bag had delivered on all aspects brilliantly.

The bag – now affectionately called The Big Blue Lug travelled with me for quite a bit throughout the years, accumulating scratches, stickers of various places and contained diverse items from the usual clothing, books and electronics to …….

“….Mangoes!”, a Malaysian customs officer had exclaimed as the fruits were unmasked by the xray machine.

“Yup”, I had answered, “It’s from my trees at home.”

He was a bit puzzled as to the lack of smell emanating from the Big Blue Lug. I had scattered within the bag pieces of bread to absorb the smell. It had been a tip from my grandma Hajjah Jasmani and I had just confirmed that it worked.

I could see several principles at work with the Big Blue Lug – but the most stand out was that the bag was literally a Stand Out : I could spot the bag a distance away because it did not blend in with the other bags. When the US president Ronald Reagan gave his first few press conferences, a reporter keen for his attention decided to wear red. It worked. In a sea of blandly dressed reporters, she stood out like a sore thumb! … albeit an attractive one at that.

The Big Blue Lug eventually started to disintegrate as it clocked 10 years. The wheels gave way first and while I commiserated to have them replaced, the seals followed suit shortly. That errr…sealed its fate and my beloved bag was reluctantly retired soon after.

As a child, I had sat on these big boxes or shipping trunks as they were called. They came from an era where people go to places via ships. When you open them up, they have these distinctive whiffs of having being stored for a while. Some say it is the smell of neglect! But i say it is the smell of the ages, of going through different places and of travel.

The Big Blue Lug is a modern iteration of these trunks. In terms of space, it cannot hold its ground against them. But it had gone the distance and had always met the mileage with confidence in keeping its entrusted contents safe and dry from the elements.

Thanks, oh faithful traveling companion! Thank you for your years of service! πŸ˜„

Many bags have I used since…but none have come close to your calibre, character and downright indestructibleness.

Travel forth my dear companion.
Into the expanse of the Eternal Travel.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light! πŸ˜„


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