Monday, September 27, 2004

Airports - Now and Then

Over days of not updating the blog, the words are battling, crowding up against my skin to tumble out. Days and days of stray thoughts - glimpses of things that made me go "hmmmm", neatly filed, to be left till called for, adventures and ideas that came my way packed in with them, all waiting for the floodgates to open.

The problem, though, with this sort of situation, is the plethora of choice. There's so much to write about that from that I don't know which stream to follow. My train of thought is fast approaching a collision with about 15 others. But here're some glimpses anyway.

So I went to the airport to see Someone off - he was leaving for the UK, and since I couldn't go along with him, I went up to the airport (this is called living life to the lees). Here's a thought about airports: they have changed since I was a kid! (This dates me, but life's like that.)

One of the biggest perceived treats of my childhood was each time my aunt and cousins came visiting from the UK. (I suspect this was because they came laden with large quantities of cheese and chocolates, since I couldn't really understand much that my cousins said to me at the time.) And each time they arrived / duly departed 6 weeks later, we would all troop to the airport - where we would enter with them almost up to the check-in counter, then wave tearful (or, in my case, cheese-stuffed-cheerful) goodbyes to them.

Then, as they headed off to check in, we would go up to the viewing gallery: a large, 3-sides-open second floor verandah, from where you could see vistas of runways, corridors snaking their way to parked aircraft, etc. From this wondrous place, you could wave to relatives and friends up to the point when they actually entered the airplane, then watch the plane taxi and take off. At age eight or so, it was all very thrilling.

Now, however, when you go to see people off at the airport, you have to say your goodbyes from the outside. No, wait, that's not true: you can go in - up to a distance of three whole feet. Imagine that! And, consider this - the fineprint: The poor dupes who actually pay 50 bucks to enter the airport along with their dearly departing, enter through a door on the right, while passengers enter through a door on the left. Then, passengers turn left and proceed to check-in, while the see-off-ers can turn right - not left, note, but in the opposite direction to the ones passengers are taking. Or, of course, they have the option of staying bunched up together like sardines, just inside the door, watching their friends/relatives march off to the check-in counters.

What's happened, I think, is that the magic has gone out of flying - out of the idea of flying. We're so uptight about security now (and not without reason either) that no 5-year old can ever again be taken to an airport viewing gallery to watch aircraft take off and land. (Of course, chances are today's 5-year old would rather fly the plane himself, taking off and landing with the aid of a simulation game on his itty-bitty i-mac.) Whereas, when I was a kid, watching airplanes was imbued with an immense sense of wonder and possibility... representative of an expanding horizon, I guess you could say. Even now, I spend half my holidays glued to my windows, watching helicopters and quaint little by-planes take off and land at the airstrip near by.

Speaking of which, I just realised I'm late to go meet a friend - whose flight will have already landed. Sheize. More from the trains of thought in the next post.

5 comments:

Nitid said...

Hmm...nice one indeed....reminded me of the time when as a 6 year old I used to go to DumDum Airport to see off my Uncle and used to stay back while the plane took off and watch it till it was no longer in sight.

yesbob said...

Buddha's last words: "Decay is inherent in all compounded things. Strive unceasingly."

Buddha stated the second law of thermodynamics. His inherent understanding still amazes me.

- William A. Russell

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