Gateway to Hope
Phase two of my journey… my flight to Dubai was a long 12 hours. This was a fact that I tried to hide from myself for as long as possible. When I first shared the news of my impending departure, inevitably the first question that many asked was, ” How long is your flight?” My response was always a truthful, “I don’t know.” I knew that it was going to be too long to sit in a structure that felt like jail for my long legs while I listen to babies cry and men snore. I have never been talented at sleeping on planes, eating plane food or using coffin-sized bathrooms that wobble while you pee. By the way, I never realized how long people actually spend in plane bathrooms. I waited 10 minutes..then 15 minutes. What exactly are people doing in there? And aren’t they afraid of getting sucked in and flushed out into a free fall? I had 12 hours to contemplate these great mysteries in life.
I wanted to use my time differently. I wanted to catch up on movies…the ones that I always vehemently proclaimed that I was going to see but never have the time to get to the theatre. Each seat on the plane had its own ICE (internet, communication and entertainment) unit so I was excited. The volume on my ICE unit did not work even after Emil, the cabin steward, reset it twice. Unfortunately I sat and watched people watching movies.
The ICE unit only enabled me to hear the flight safety information. Air Emirates uses a use a high tech video with hip background music to remind you to put on your oxygen mask before you place it on the child next to you. The only thing they were keen on announcing over the plane’s PA system was that their stewards spoke over eight languages. Impressive? Indeed.
Dubai’s airport was beautiful. The ceilings were high, the walls were white with windows all around. The natural light streamed in and perked up my spirits a bit. The flight magazine boasted that Dubai is a city with over 100 different nationalities. It was so beautiful to see such diversity and to hear a myriad of languages. I closed my eyes and listened to the prayers piped over the speakers. I opened my eyes and the people were beautiful and plentiful were their smiles. On my way back I will get an opportunity to see the city up close and personal. I am excited.
Unfortunately, the one thing that remains the same in every culture and in every corner of the world is the queue for the Ladies restroom. Long. “Out the door, around the corner” long. The face in the bathroom mirror confirmed what I knew..I was exhausted. I did not sleep on the plane. My eyes were bloodshot. And I had 6 hours before my flight to Kozhikode departed. I walked around the airport and discovered that they have lounge chairs. I staked my claim on a blue one next to Gate B18, my point of departure. I felt and looked like a vagabond with my red eyes, unkempt hair, flip flops and an oversized bag. But that did not stop the group of men fresh from their Hajj from sitting next to me. They had just finished a 21 days spiritual retreat. Ten men traveling together uplifted, jubilant and heading to their adopted home of Australia. They watched over me while I slept. And when they needed to get some food, I watched over their bags while I slept. I dreamed that I too would return home refreshed and inspired. At 14:00 pm, Gate B18 opened. I got to my feet and floated down the stairs towards the plane…My head already in the clouds.