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How to Travel With Knitting - Part 3

Chantal Ratnam

Posted on April 03 2018

Hellllllo from India!! How's everyone doing? This post wasn't going to happen until I got back to Toronto but I didn't want to leave you guys hanging.  I left Toronto with some pretty lofty goals and promises to make some daring moves but after four days of travel my nerve has waned significantly.

For this trip I actually did commit to the Columbina shawl by Ambah O'Brien even though I thought I might have a last minute change of heart.  Sure enough, I left my knitting prep to last which meant that I left the house with two balls of yarn and one partially wound one that jumped off of my swift while I was winding it and didn't have time to fix at home.

(the face you make when your knitting needles have just been confiscated by airport security) 

This time I was very careful to everything put a single pair of interchangeables into my suitcase just in case I ran into trouble with security which was good because my poor knitting needles only lasted the flight out of Toronto to Istanbul.  Even though I flew Turkish Airlines out of Toronto and had absolutely no problems getting on the plane,  as soon as we landed security on the other side gave me a hard no. I watched as my poor size fives were tossed into a large bin full of other contraband. It also meant that during my five hour layover I had almost nothing to do but contemplate the fact that I could be knitting. That tangled partially wound ball of yarn came in pretty handy then.

I didn't get another chance to knit for another two days when we travelled on the Gatimaan Express from Delhi to Agra where we would be seeing the Taj Mahal.  As knitting on the Go train in Toronto is pretty standard for me I didn't think twice about throwing my knitting into my camera bag as well left the hotel. Here in India, security is everywhere. Guards and metal detectors at doors are pretty standard issue.  When I saw the metal detectors at the Gatimaan I definitely worried for a second. Fortunately they made it through without anyone looking twice.  This was good because the train ride that usually takes about an hour and a half took seven on Monday.  Heavy protests broke out all over India and protestors had blocked the train from getting in.  Residents here had a very "welcome to India. These things happen," vibe to them although they made sure we were very taken care of and never had reason to worry.  Because of this, I didn't worry, I knit.  I made some pretty decent progress too, until we were rescued off the train when the driver who was supposed to meet us in Agra drove up to meet us where we were.

 

My friends and I thought the day was over. It was after five and we really didn't believe we were going to make it to the Taj but we didn't know that it is a point of pride for the residents here that if you come to India they will move mountains to make sure you see the Taj Mahal. "You still want to see? If we hurry we can make it..!!" (I use periods and exclamation marks because our driver here uses both to finish every sentence in a text message and now I can't help but see it out loud.) We raced at break neck speeds through Agra with our driver calling out facts about the city as we hurried past monuments and other sites and pulled up in front of the tour guide who had been waiting all day at the Taj for us to arrive.  He hustled us to security where he turned around and said, "Very strict security here. No sharp objects!" In my head I yelled, "NOOOOOOO!!" Down to my last pair of needles here I did not want to give them up but I also wasn't going to miss the Taj for them. Luckily our guide managed to hustle us through security and even though a friend had some of her items confiscated my knitting needles emerged unscathed. I don't know if it was luck, the speed at which we were moving or a combination of both but somehow they managed to get in and out of the Taj undetected. Since that day, I've lost my nerve.  Too anxious about getting them taken away I've tucked my knitting carefully into my suitcase and haven't touched it since.

In my annoyance, the day I had my knitting needles confiscated by the security of Turkish Airlines, I felt that our desire to be secure shouldn't trump our common sense. They're knitting needles for crying out loud! I turned to a friend and asked if it would have mattered if they were wood or acrylic.  Her response was, "If you can make a shiv out of toothbrush, I'm guessing probably not." At that point I started to appreciate that not everyone lives in the little security bubble we have the privelege of living in our little corner of the world. Since then I've had many more opportunities to appreciate that realization. I say I lost my nerve but part of it is also acceptance that security is a privilege I clearly take for granted.  Tucking my knitting back in my suitcase is also my acknowledgement that people here shouldn't have to modify their rules so that I can have something to do in an idle minute.  While I know I'm not a threat to anyone I also acknowledge the ridiculousness of asking the whole world to just take my word on it.

So that's it for me for this week.  Next week we're in Goa and the plan is to do nothing but lay on a beach for a few days.  I can knit then and I'll definitely keep you apprised of my progress.  Until then, PEACE to you and your family and happy knitting! 

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