Five Feet Zero

self indulgent and short.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In transit

I'm finally back in Mumbai. I'd started writing a post from Heathrow yesterday - about airports, and how they're one of the best places to observe humanity - but never got around to finishing it. So I'm posting the unfinished one here:

On my way back to Mumbai, stopped over at London Heathrow. I hate planes but I love airports. Actually, I don't hate planes, I just hate the ride - the ridiculously narrow seats (yes, even for me), the vomit-worthy plastic that is supposed to pass off as food, the ageing stewardesses with their lipstick-stained teeth, and the smell - a cross between industrial fuel, frozen piss and cheap air-freshener. Anyway, going back to my original point - I love airports. They are such strange, surreal places, and the absolute best for people watching. I love that they are a collection point for the vastly divergent dreams, hopes and aspirations of an ever-changing mass of humanity. While I would never know the whole story of the thousands of people that I see, I can always figure some of it out. And at any given airport in any given part of the world, there will always be some of the usual suspects:

  • The abandoned grandparents off to visit their children in some far-flung land. I once met an incredibly tiny old lady from the remotest bit of rural Gujarat, having arrived in London to meet her now-successful son in Sussex or wherever. She didn't understand a single syllable of English, and just smiled beningly as the immigration officer at the airport fired the fuck out of her. And when I finally escorted her outside, her son hadn't shown up. It broke my heart.
  • The weary business traveller with his little duffel bag and laptop, picking up meaningless gifts for his kids back home, trying to make up for the his constant absentia.
  • The college crowd: cleavage blondes and brain-dead jocks on their way to an alcohol-fueled orgy during spring break. They're rowdy, stupid and inevitably dead drunk.
  • The families - always the best: exhausted mothers attempting to control caffeinated kids, often annoyed with their rich and vacuous husbands who won't pitch in with the kid-care.
  • And then you have the single, non-business travellers - always the hardest to figure out. There might be the heartbroken lover, returning single from a trip that wasn't supposed to end like that, or the fresh graduate, attempting his first solo I'm-going-to-discover-myself trip to India or Thailand or wherever. Or there might be a me - a girl sick of her job, the city and her life, trying to go on a holiday alone to find answers to some vague, undefined questions. She'd be sitting all curled up on a cold grey airport lounger, desperately trying to figure out what she'd managed to achieve.

Wow, that ended more depressingly than I remember. I actually do think that the holiday has done me a world of good. I don't want to quit my job just yet, and have realised that being confused at 23 is okay. It's okay to not know what you want professionally or personally. And that it's okay to not have a plan. Isn't it?


  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger Nicole said…

    Wow, that did get depressing fast.

    "And that it's okay to not have a plan." I hope it's okay. Cause I have no plan either.

  • At 4:17 PM, Anonymous a fellow of infinite jest said…

    I suppose the bard said it best:

    Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    Go to you bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

  • At 9:18 PM, Anonymous 'A' said…

    Landed on your blog through Egghead's. Ofcourse it's okay to not have a plan (invoke 'Sunscreen' at all times)...infact NOW I feel supremely connected to you : )

    A very pertinent point at a time when I have no idea how I have landed up with a women's supplement when I 'planned' to write about films forever. And I'm so very happy now so maybe the original plan was all wrong anyway. How can you ever know?

    So, it's all about forks in the road and surprise detours. And this was supposed to be about you so I shall do the shutting up.

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger ~*sim*~ said…

    I love airports. ... I love that they are a collection point for the vastly divergent dreams, hopes and aspirations of an ever-changing mass of humanity.

    nice. the NYT journalistic instinct will get you far ;-)


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