Sunday, July 09, 2006

Time to Colomb: 4:05

June 30 2006
For many years, the real time travel map, where passengers can watch a tiny plane image creeping across a topographical map, has been a feature of international travel. The transit from London to Colombo is, particularly evocative, because I have visited so many of the cities. There are the European capitals – London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon (most recently), Zagreb, Vienna, Rome, Athens, Budapest There are the major transit destinations, where familiar venues have mostly been replaced by sparkling new, inhumane, terminals – in addition to the capitals, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Zurich. Interestingly the maps have no political boundaries.

Flying over the Middle East, there is Teheran, where I consulted for the Imperial Government of the Shah. Muscat, where I visited students who had become influential civil servants. Dubai, long a fueling stop for Air Lanka’s ancient Lockheed L1101 jets. Then the cities of India, many now with new names, Bombay has become Mumbai. Madras has become Chennai, though Delhi remains unchanged. Who decides when a new name appears on the map, following a political upheaval. These political decisions are one more thing for top airline executives to puzzle over. They didn’t have to become involved when Ceylon became Sri Lanka. There were no real-time flight maps then – in 1970 - and I would have been hard pressed to find the island on a map.

‘Time to Colombo 3:36.’


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