Snapshot Story – A Long Awaited Journey


Airport lounges are funny places. Often hours are spent within them, thumb-twiddling the many many minutes away, reading a book, taking a nap, conversing with random strangers trying to sate the boredom nibbling away at your insides. Yet many of us long to sit in them. We dream of partaking of the comfort of that nomansland, neither officially present in a country or absent from it. That lounge replete with rows of seats stretching as far as the eye can be bothered to see, full of others like you resembling the boredom and anticipation that you yourself reflect.
Yet it is full of untold promises, that ubiquitous of non-spaces, full of new beginnings and misadventures to be had, even if only for a brief time. What is clear however, is that life will change.
The escarpment of presupposed life-patterns, normally adhered to will no longer take precedence. Adjustments will have to be made, consciously, physically, emotionally. Succinct, and akin to marriage this undertaking is epic in its proportions. A chance for some to rewrite history, and for others to recapture personal space and time; for others still, a chance to relinquish control and escape for good.

We know not where we go from that airport lounge, but we go willingly. With our few possessions, our bottle of water and a pocket full of sweet distractions, and all the hope in the world that the vista that awaits us in our new territory of arrival is not as alien as the one we anticipate, and that we don’t falter on our journey thenceforth through no fault of our own. That the Weather-Gods pay homage to our hopefulness, and that delays are but momentary pauses in the collection of boarding-cards alone.
Roquetas Beach, Almeria, SpainThrough our epic wait and our monumental boredom, the inexplicable urge to jump to our feet and run to our destination, if we could, via the boarding-gate of liberty is strong within us. Yet we reign it in, tap our feet some more, flick vigorously through the magazine or newspaper that we have already encountered and absorbed several times. We imagine what awaits us, ahead, once we set foot on solid ground, somewhere else so far away. We entertain notions of creature-hood ensconced in bars and eateries or perhaps the confines of a lover’s embrace. We sit by the pool in our imaginary loungers sipping a Marguerita, or a Mojito, or maybe having a well-earned beer in the hope of absorbing much needed sunlight and ambience fresh from the cultural tin.

Suddenly the moment comes, and everyone is standing to attention roused by the unintelligible crackle of the intercom and the muffled voice of the Gate-attendant. Adrenaline courses, relief floods, and nerves flutter erratically in the pit of your stomach. Stretching of stiff limbs and collecting of personal effects ready to move with progressive intent, progressively through the Gate and onward to new vistas that is. But life is never that simple, unintelligible and muffled-voice formulates a thought in your mind, having bypassed your hearing and entering your subconscious: “We will be ready to board in fifteen minutes, would you please have your boarding cards and passports ready for inspection by the gate-staff. We will be calling you forward by seat-row number, so unless..[mumble]…. please remain seated”. Panic and confusion sets in, stiffness of back is replaced with upright alertness. Heavy patting of pockets ensues, rummaging of bags, emptying and repacking of contents numerous times in search of those illusive documents so important for immediate travel. The lounge has erupted into activity and the now slightly less quiet murmuring of people as they prepare for exodus, everyone apparently in the same fervent panic collecting themselves, ready for that final push.
You breathe a sigh of relief as you find your documents, one slotted inside the other exactly where you had left them, in that safe zippered pocket of your carry-on luggage. You hadn’t thought to look there because usually it is redundant, only deep and wide enough for a long piece of card and a passport…
A deep breath is required, a treasured moment or two of quiet contemplation, and a stiff farewell to familiar ground as you await your turn to place one foot in front of the other and begin anew.


21 thoughts on “Snapshot Story – A Long Awaited Journey

  1. I have mixed feelings about airports.
    I once went through Tel Aviv . It felt like being in the movie Midnight Express. I had never seen so
    many people carrying automatic weapons and we had to hand over our passports which were all stacked in piles on a damn folding table!
    I was young and had little concept of terrorism.

    I like to meet people but hate saying goodbye.
    Your description is vivid.

    1. Yes I too have mixed feelings about Tel-Aviv airport in particular. In fact years later when I worked at Gatwick airport I used to have to check-in and board the El Al flight to Tel-Aviv, and the snipers out on the rooves of the adjacent terminal buildings were always a worry. We always made sure we never upset anyone as you knew there were barrels aimed at where you were sitting, or at least in front if the desk. The sigh of relief everyone breathed when check-in was finally closed was palpable.

      1. Well the Tel-Aviv was just nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. The Freetown flight was a pain in the proverbial because it involved hours of arguing with passengers about overweight luggage, and fobbing off bribes and angry protests, also trying to negotiate safe and legal conduct with over 300 people adamant on trying to pull a fast one while you weren’t looking. It was a nightmare. Not to mention that you were on the look-out for fake documents which were pretty rife. Because of all of that the flight would often be delayed, miss it’s slot and then you would have to explain to the already defeated and irritable passengers that they might have to come back the following day and do this all over again, and by the way it was their fault anyway for not complying in the first place!
        I’ll never forget the night I was on the Red Air flight due to fly out at midnight, and check-in was suspended shortly before it was due to close, and it had been the usual battle with the passengers. We were told nothing of what the hold-up was, until about midnight, obviously the time the flight was due to go out, and our supervisor announced that there would be no Red Air flight that night. Of course we were up in arms because we thought, ok, it’ll go tomorrow maybe. Perhaps the plane had gone tech. Except our supe then proceeded to tell us that there would never be another Red Air flight on any night, the company had gone into liquidation mid-check-in!
        We deliberated for a long while after that, holding off as long as possible in telling the passengers the disastrous news, because we knew we would probably get lynched.
        Thankfully for us the passengers were beyond caring, all argued out, and quietly listened to the awful news, then made their way out of the building.

  2. I’ve long hated airports. In fact, the main inhibition to traveling to me has been the actual traveling. I’d be among the 1st wave to sign up for teleporters, were they available and safe. It’s pretty stupid, when you think of it. I actually do like airports and I think you captured it well. I love to take photos of the people waiting. However, after 19-hour flight legs, much of the glamor has worn off of travel. Perhaps if I didn’t travel alone so much (or with business companions).

    1. I am indifferent to airports by now, but I do like them. I discovered from working in one that I can wait for hours, because as long as you’re waiting you are not working! 🙂
      Long flights are a pain though, literally!

  3. Beautifully expressed Ishaiya. I quite enjoy people watching in airports as long as the layover isn’t interminable.Your experiences n the job, sound more exciting however 🙂

    1. lol Yes I have many a story to tell about working at the airport, I loved my job. I’ve always liked airports ever since I was a very young child, so in a way it was a dream job in that I enjoyed it so much (most of the time) 🙂

  4. Hi M. Great post, and timely for me, as I have recently made the trip from California to Chicago, Chicago to Boston to Newark NJ and soon to repeat the sequence backwards. I am ambivalent about airports, but very anxious about getting to them. Go figure.

    Again, thanks for the great post.

    Warmest Regards, your friend,


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