Au Revoir

Modern air travel has always fascinated me, the entire process from origin to destination is one that fills me with wonder. From the moment I see the sign that tells me that the airport is just around the corner, I begin to feel a sense of anticipation and an excitement I cannot explain. I reach the departures terminal and join the queue that wishes to enter this building. A stern looking sentry stops me to check that I have that vital piece of paper that will allow me entry into this sacred lair. Not satisfied with just the piece of paper, he asks for identification; having duly proved to him that I am who I claim to be, I enter.

The difference in atmosphere from outside to in is almost tangible; outside it is harsh, bright and uncertain while on the inside the muted lighting, the smiling faces and the welcoming voices all spell comfort and warmth. I approach the clerk at the check in counter and he smilingly informs me that my flight is on schedule. I place my check in luggage on the conveyor belt, someone slaps a sticker on it and it slowly disappears behind a plastic curtain. I collect my boarding pass and baggage tag and head towards security check. Laptop goes into the box and through the scanner and the bag follows. The human baggage all passes through the scanner and is reunited with their possessions on the other side.

And then freedom, an entire expanse of the terminal for me to explore until such time the flight is called. I stroll around, glancing at all the shops with their shiny glass windows and colourful displays wondering who exactly does shop at the airport. The food joints are a different story, almost every table has occupants who are engrossed in their newspapers or laptops with a coffee cup by their side. I spend the time alternating between reading and observing the scene around.

The view from the upper floor where I sat was breathtaking, the entire airport stretched out before me, an ocean of space in the middle of the crowded city. The scenery inside was amusing as well, people rushing around, looking flustered and not really being able to settle down in one place for a minute. Somehow I think the feeling that this is something of their lives that they cannot control, gives them a reason for anxiety. They are completely dependent on the authorities to tell them what to do and where to go and that unsettles them. I have seen very few people who are relaxed in an airport. Children are the only ones who make the most of the situation, running around wherever they please.

But anyway I digress, the flight is announced, the people form a queue to board, anxious once again as if the plane would deliberately take off without them if they didn’t rush. I board the plane and find my seat, a relatively easy task for me; being so short that I neither have the problem of bumping my head on the overhead bins nor of being cramped in my seat with no space for my legs :P. Having settled in, I find that I am able to continue with my reading while all the pre-boarding commotion plays on like background music. At last it is time for the flight to take wings, the roar of the engine fills the aircraft, images rush by and everything begins to shake and suddenly we’re in the air. The city below gets smaller and smaller until you can see no more than a haze of clouds.

Inside the aircraft, things have settled down and the flight crew is busy handing out refreshments and all is well in the world. Very soon, the empty containers are cleared away and there is a peaceful silence on board; people reading, listening to music or just dozing. Before you know it, it is time to land, seat belts on, seats upright and tray tables folded away. Emerging from the cloud cover the city comes into view and slowly gets bigger and bigger as the aircraft descends. It gets closer and closer when finally with a thump, it touches down. Even before the aircraft has come to a complete standstill, there is a rush of people standing in the aisles and getting their luggage out of the overhead bins. The sounds of cell phones being switched on are heard all around. Here again people are as anxious to get off as they had been to get on. I wait my turn, pick up my luggage and smiling at the flight crew exit the plane.

A bus awaits below to ferry passengers to the terminal. Arriving there, there is another rush for collecting the bags from the giant conveyor belts and then out into the open air, turning my back to the magic of the airport. There is a throng of expectant faces outside which light up on seeing the one that they have been looking out for. I find my cab, place my bags inside and seat myself and take one last look at the airport before we pull away from the kerb. Until next time then..

Cheers!

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

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