Wednesday, May 7

Transit tales - 1

LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal:

Readers, the horse before the cart as it were. This piece was born as I finally managed to catch my breath at the Cathay Pacific departure lounge at LAX, awaiting my flight to Hong Kong. An eyebrow may just have been delicately raised as you question my need to ‘catch my breath’. After all, how taxing is checking in for a flight? And this is where, on cue, I introduce you to Los Angeles International Airport or LAX as it is popularly abbreviated.

As I make my way to S.E Asia, I’ve understandably seen quite a few airports on my way. And I haven’t left the U.S.A yet. Birmingham has a nice, small, no hassle airport. Houston seems to follow that accepted dictate about all things Texan – it’s huge. And, this in itself was no problem, but the bright boys who designed it decided, for some inexplicable reason to completely abandon the idea of escalators… you know, those moving paths / thingummys. Astute reader, you have guessed correctly. Long, tiring plods trying to find the right terminal to board my connecting flight to Phoenix, Arizona after which I get to the stated terminal only to be told that the gate has been shifted. Of course. More sentry-go marching of the type the father of our dear nation would have beamingly approved.

The Phoenix sun (I can see how that name became common) hung low in the western sky, bathing the swaying palms, red hills, prim streets and plate-glass buildings in a golden light. The scene seemed to suggest peace, bonhomie and that, for an instant, all was right with the world. I felt only intense melancholia. My cousin had just dropped me off at the airport and headed back home. I envied him, his life. He was going back to a wife and kid, to parents and a regular job. Basically, to a life that is the end result of making all the right moves. Seems to me, most of the people I know now-a-days have made the right moves.

I’m heading to an endemic-malaria zone, to live by myself for the first time in my life. Yes, completely alone… which, as I sit here, at what has to be the biggest and the worst terminal I have ever seen (yes, including Sahar in the latter category), seems to be a very stupid idea. And on a side note, for the love of all that is holy people, Cambodia is in South East Asia. Not Africa. Not South America. Not even in South Africa. It is next to Thailand… and everyone knows where Thailand is. Dirty-minded sods, the lot of you. Anyway, Cambodia… I know I’m determined to enjoy myself there. I know that very few people ever do something like this. I know no one I know ever has. I know that, come what may, this will be an ‘experience’. A real one and not those prissy ones we like to drawl on about after one too many glasses of tipple. I know that, bottom line, this is cool. Knowing all this, why the palpable sense of anxiety?

I was watching the T.V show ‘House’ where the main character says something along the lines of living life as one wants to. He of course, has been portrayed as living it to the fullest, indulging his every whim and fancy. Helps that he’s portrayed as a genius, methinks. Segue apart, the above sentiment lead me to some very interesting albeit squirm-worthy questions.

As usual though, am I thinking too far ahead?

Song for the moment: Holiday in Cambodia – The Dead Kennedys

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