Monday, 17 March 2008

Viva BrisVegas 2: The Case of the Missing Phone

It had to happen. I've been buzzing along happily through Brisbane this week, sampling the cool cafe districts and going on a bunch of unusual tours... including a ghost tour through the old Toowong Cemetery with a suspiciously vampiric host.

All was going swimmingly. So of course, as PG Wodehouse would put it, Fate was waiting around the next corner with a piece of lead piping, ready to do her worst.

On Friday evening I caught a taxi from the Emporium Hotel in lively Fortitude Valley to the Powerhouse arts venue in nearby New Farm, for opening drinks at a freelance writers' conference.

Later in the evening, after another cab ride, we ended up in the Valley's hyperactive, ever so edgy Brunswick Street Mall (my patented definition of 'edgy' as applied to city neighbourhoods: lively, with a mild sense of danger).

We ate, we drank, we watched happy people wander toward live music venues. Then, back at the hotel, I discovered my phone was missing.

It was a small mishap really, but it set off a tedious bout of phone calls to cab companies, venues, insurance companies and the police over the next few days.

Interestingly, for most of the following day I was quietly enjoying not having a phone; in the 21st century, there's something a bit wicked about not being constantly in touch. But then it sank in that I'd lost something valuable that I rely on, and I felt a bit vulnerable. Silly really, as no-one had stolen it - it had mostly likely dropped onto the roadway upon getting out of a taxi.

But still, it felt disturbing. Especially since I'd never lost anything significant while travelling before, despite the endless opportunities. It was interesting too, to see how your psychological security in a new place can so easily flip from relaxed to unsettled via such a minor event.

And I keep wondering where the hell the phone is now... it's been blocked from outgoing calls and it isn't answering, so I guess I'll never know.

So... what have you lost while travelling? Anything important, essential, or deeply sentimental? And how did it affect your state of mind?

Tim Richards travelled with the assistance of Tourism Queensland and local hotels.