Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is air travel worth it?

I’m nearing journey’s end. Perhaps this is not the ideal time to ask such a question, after nearly thirty hours of flying and layover, with more to come. I am sitting at Heathrow Terminal 1, surrounded by the somewhat sterile, commercial wasteland that airports have become. The scene is much like a very upscale hawkers stand. In front of me there is ‘World of Watches,’ ‘Hugo Boss,’ ‘Bally’ another ‘Hugo Boss,’ ‘Ted Baker,’ ‘Smith Books...’ and much much more, People walk by, looking tired and purposeful, mostly oblivious to the commercial blandishments spread before therm. A middle aged woman offers shopping brochures to passers by. Mostly, they ignore her or turn away. A man speaks on his cell phone... loudly... as if he were sitting in this office. His negotiating the sales of some product. Since I am less that a yard from where he is conferring, I make eye contact. He looks away and continues his conversation. A tired mother calls plaintively to her 3 year old son who is wandering away. He does not respond. Finally, she picks up her backpack, hand luggage and baby to chase after him. Nobody seems to be having much fun. Flying and airport waiting times are mostly something to be endured, with the hope that what lies at journey’s end will make it all worthwhile.


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