Thursday Tidbits

Posted on May 3, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Mt.Rainier. Washington State

 

You may have noticed. I have traveled quite a bit in my lifetime, especially since I retired three years ago. I have traveled by car, train, bus, airplane, boat, motorcycle, and rickshaw. And of course on foot. If you have time and patience, traveling can be a great education.

Yes, with the internet, you can go to the four corners of the earth in the safety of your own home. But even in these times of instant information and on line reviews, there is nothing quite like traveling in real time. Agreed, there will be glitches. Weather can affect your plans and there are many other unavoidable delays. If you are catching a connecting flight and you know that you’re going to miss it, it can be very upsetting. Ditto for lost luggage. If you’re traveling with an elderly passenger or small children, you can sometimes be faced with issues that put your patience quota to the test.

But it is so worth it when you can reconnect with old friends and family members, or have a chance to see the wonders of other parts of the world.

Many people hate airports. I am not one of them. People watching is one of my favourite things to do while I’m waiting to board a flight. Sitting in Heathrow, O’Hare, and the airport in New Delhi, you can watch the world walk past you. Who are these people? What is their story? Where are they heading? Will their journey bring them joy or sorrow? What do they do for a living? If I’m not fatigued, I’ll often engage with someone sitting in the waiting area, or on a plane or train. Young or old, everyone has a story to tell. And of course, there are times when you want to be left alone with your thoughts.

Every person working in an airport wears some kind of uniform. They are all part of a vast and complicated organizational structure that keeps things operational.

I love watching planes take off and land, marveling at the mechanics involved in getting them off the ground with hundreds of passengers and tons of luggage. I am even more in awe wondering how they can stay airborne so long. My longest non- stop flight was fifteen hours from Delhi to Toronto.

With more and more of us traveling, ticket prices remain affordable. I remember flying out to Victoria in the early 70’s. In today’s dollars, factoring in inflation, flying is cheaper now then it was 45 years ago. Mind you, the days of free meals and free booze are gone unless you’re sharing space with the elite. I’m in the cattle class and only get a whiff of luxury when forced to pass through the first class section of the plane.

What are the longest ten minutes of a trip taken by plane?  That’s easy. The plane taxis to the arrival gate. The engines are turned off. Almost instantaneously, the cabin gets very warm. People are tired, stiff and often cranky as they wait for the door of the plane to open. The anticipation of getting off the plane and meeting loved ones is palpable. It reminds me of the moments prior to starting a marathon. You can almost cut the air with a knife. When the door finally opens (it feels like hours but it is usually only minutes), everyone starts to move, even if you’re near the rear of the plane. People in window seats feel the need to get up even though their turn could be several minutes. Bodies are contorted in strange angles as people try to stand even there’s not enough room. Invariably the person in the row behind you is chomping to get off the plane and elbows you as you try and get your carry on from the overhead bin.

And then, freedom.

I saw this passage in the Air Canada En Route magazine the other day while flying from Victoria to Toronto. It pretty well sums up my feelings about travel.

“Profound, if brief, encounters with strangers are among travel’s chief pleasures, an opportunity to look at the world from someone else’s perspective. At a time when some wish to build walls between “us and them,” our ability to forge connections is more necessary than ever.”

Amen.

Have a great weekend.

 

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