An Ode to my MacPac…

As I was recently rooting around in my loft for something, I found my big macpac, and realised I’ve had it for 10 years this year. It’s the best rucksack I’ve ever bought, it has a lifetime guarantee, and it’s EXTREMELY well-made, so I thought it was worthy of a little shout-out.

I bought my matching big and little macpacs in 2007, before going to Nepal for a year.

My big macpac has gone with me to Nepal, India, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Liverpool, South Sudan, India again, Nepal again, Kashmir, Oxford, the USA, The Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Iraq, Jordan, Canada, USA again, Australia again, Senegal, Kenya, Iraq again, and Senegal again.

Other than an unfortunate incident once where my Big Mac got ripped in an airport and needed to be patched (I sent it off to macpac and they fixed it up and shipped it back to me), it has held up remarkably well! In Nepal I used to keep it empty under my bed, but padlocked as my passport was in there, and when I lost the key, I had to beg the locksmith to cut through the padlock carefully not to damage the zip!

It’s incredibly comfortable, exactly the right size, and I love that it unzips like a proper suitcase instead of rooting around in a normal rucksack. I also love that you can fold in and zip up the straps when checking it in at airports so they don’t get damaged en-route.

My little macpac has gone with me EVERYWHERE in the last 10 years. It’s literally my everyday bag, it carries my laptop into work everyday, it goes with me on mini-breaks and weekends, and in addition to all of the countries my big mac has been to it has ALSO been with me to Qatar, Madrid, Italy and Switzerland!

Obviously daily use for 10 years has left my little mac a bit grubby, but considering what it’s been through, it’s holding up INCREDIBLY well! It’s even still mostly waterproof, as I learned after a can of tonic water exploded inside it once in the Philippines…

This little bag goes with me pretty much everywhere, is still sturdy and comfy after 10 years, and it zips onto the front of Big Mac (although I hardly ever do that).

So, all in all, as a fairly frequent traveller, I give these bags 10 out of 10 and highly recommend them for your travelling adventures.


All the places I’ve been

In a recent conversation with my dad, I realised that in his 70+ years, he has travelled to a huge number of countries, (34 and counting!) so I thought it was worth listing all of mine out too to see how we compare!

My dad also pointed out that the majority of his travelling happened in his 20’s and 30’s, as like most people, once you settle down and have kids you tend to travel less often, so here is our combined list:  Continue reading

Travelling Maya

Thursday 15th July 2010

Hello everyone,
Sorry it’s been so long since my last email, but so much has happened once again that I don’t really know where to start!

Let’s see, in shorthand: during my 1 month’s notice period I was allowed to take my 2 week’s compensatory leave, so I went to Nepal for a break and well-earned holiday.

Unfortunately my holiday was utterly exhausting and ended up being really quite stressful. It was GREAT to see all the kids again and being back was lovely. However I’d forgotten that staying at the orphanage meant getting up at 5am, which is not my idea of relaxing! Also there were 3 other volunteers there, so we were all sharing a cramped room. I won’t go into the details right now, but basically there was a lot of drama involving the other volunteers, me, Priya, and Aama, a lot of misunderstanding and a fair amount of upset all round. I also came down with a hideously nasty cold and have been ill pretty much ever since, so my holiday was mostly an exhausting and stressful disaster. Continue reading

It’s not racist, it’s because you’re white…

Monday 14th June 2010

Soooo, last week I was called down to see the Chairman (the big man himself). I was terrified I’d be yelled at again because of the NGO programme, but it turns out he has decided that I’m not doing any CSR over the summer while the students are gone, and has ordered me to sit in admissions for the next two months smiling at prospective students because basically they need a white face down there and there isn’t anyone else left.

I’m supposed to chat to new students and gauge their English level (although if their English is crap they will still be admitted as the Uni needs the money and is desperate to up enrolment) so it’s utterly pointless – even if they haven’t got any English they’ll be allowed in, so having me interview them is only so they can be paraded past my desk to see that the University has white staff!
I’m not even allowed to stay in my office – I have to move downstairs to a cubicle in the admissions cell so as many people as possible will see me. Continue reading

Things can only get bett….oh no, wait….

Friday 4th June 2010

Well hello again, time for another update from hell!

Things have predictably gone even more tits up since I last wrote. S and D have handed in their notice, H and M are on leave and no-one knows if they are planning to return, and T’s been fired, so in about a week and a half I’ll be practically the only foreign staff member left! My boss A has also been asked to leave, and she handed in her resignation yesterday, so that’s a plus!

The University is desperately short of cash – last month they were almost 2 weeks late in paying us, and kept making crap excuses about why the money hadn’t gone through, which could well be why they’re suddenly firing everybody – it’s the summer holiday and they probably don’t want to keep on paying teaching staff that aren’t doing any teaching for a couple of months. Continue reading

Wild Life

Tuesday 11th May 2010

Ok, prepare for part two. Have you all got cups of tea and biscuits at the ready? No? How about a glass of wine? Comfy chairs are a must.

Despite the many ups and downs of my job (see my previous post), I am extremely lucky to have a fantastic groups of friends to hang out with on weekends. These friends are not only kind and sympathetic to my stressful work-related drama, but more importantly, DO NOT WORK WITH ME! While I like my colleagues (most of them), there’s nothing worse than only socialising with work friends – cos you never end up talking about anything except work. However my friends in Delhi know nothing except that which I tell them about work (which, lets face it, is everything, cos I’m a talker!), but so it’s utterly refreshing to be able to get away from it all and spend my weekends talking about fun and different things that are in no way related to my personal vortex of drama! (I seem to attract it like a black hole….) Continue reading

Just another day at the office…

Tuesday 11th May 2010

Hello hello!

Well, since the last time I wrote SOOOOOO much has happened I barely know where to begin! The complex politics at work? Dead body found on campus last week? Students attacked and beaten by faculty members? Or perhaps something more cheery such as my AMAZING weekend away in Gandhi Sagar National Park?

Frankly, there is so much to tell, I am torn between splitting it into two emails, or attempting to shorthand it (which we all know I’m incapable of – I do so love to embellish!). I couldn’t possibly leave anything out after that tantalising taster, so I guess I’ll have to just start writing and see where I get to…. Continue reading