Stories in motion, at Airports

So what do you do, when you have time on your hands after reaching the airport, as defined by the travel agent or the airline, many hours in advance? Or if you are an anxious passenger and like to be well on time, then how do you use your idle time, effectively at airports? Ever wonder what happens to those couplea hours you have, before boarding an international flight? Everybody says we’ll keep busy; there is enough to do around duty free’s! But how much can you really do around duty frees? :)

After walking the entire length of the airport and peering into suped up shop windows, maybe even buying a few things you don’t need, with feet finally saying enough is enough, how do you still keep yourself entertained given you are much time away from boarding yet?:)

This pre flight time has always been a time, of much work for me. I wander around. I enjoy a good cappuccino amongst a world of strangers. I observe the hustle bustle and chaos and orderliness around me. And make mental notes of cultures and people and behaviors and law. Most importantly I allow the trip highlights to rotate in my mind and etch the good memories forever with a flourish while seemingly, aimlessly walking about the terminal.

This once, time flew by once again, and I actually chided myself for not figuring my boarding gate, before wandering around the airport. I saw a young toddler taking her first few baby steps on the walking elevator. The near fall and then the fine delicate balance to stay standing – was a joy reflected in the child’s eyes and mirrored in her mum’s eyes. The child was zapped, felt weird, there was confusion on the child's face, and then finally it exploded into a 300amp gurgle and a 200watt dimpled smile. Then there was this young 19-20yr old back packer sitting on the airport floor despite many empty seats all around, painting her nails and drying them at an arms length with a small motorized fan which looked most incongruous with her grunge look. This young girl sat in her cargo's and gators cross legged n the floor, most unaware of the ripple she was causing amongst curious fliers coming closer to their boarding gate. A litle distance ahead, as I wandered further, a young couple were walking on the walking elevator facing each other. They were so absorbed into each other, not worried about the scowls given to them by harried co- passengers who had come to a grinding halt behind them. They stood across the elevator with their hands on each other effectively blocking the path for the others. Many people started queuing up on the right side of the elevator which should have been open to them to hurry past. But this couple was so intent on each other none of the queuing up world behind, disturbed their reverie, and then once they were off the walking elevator, the rest of the queued up public hurried past from either sides of this couple. It is rightly said that the world waits and looks on, when love is in the air:)

Watching people say goodbye is most difficult for me. I saw a military family bidding adieu to their young handsome son. They all looked smiling, strong and confident. But as the Marine moved into the deeper recess of the airport I saw the family from the coffee shop where I was perched, they were white, nervous and worried for him. I could see their thoughts- they knew he was off to a tough job full of dangers. My heart reached out to them and I sent a silent prayer to God to keep this young soldier safe and happy for his family.

Emotions are on full display at airports. Happy scenes have to be balanced with sad goodbyes. Life evens out. And you walk matter of factly into your craft, looking to arrive at your next destination, the perfect disguise falls in place again.
Such an exciting world we live in. With as many interesting people partaking in our lives without them or us realizing this. People want to talk, especially when they are traveling alone. That’s how I pick up human behaviour. Watching silently. Making mental notes. Tucking it away for future reference. Everyone has a story and it is all being unfolded right in front of us.


Land of ready smiles and incredible contrasts - Malaysia!

Landing into Sarawak one can’t help but notice the abundance of beautiful not seen before birds, flowers, and even pepper, cocoa, palm oil, timber which are aplenty all over Malaysia. If I had to describe Sarawak in one word I would say - verdant green. Sabah and Sarawak are located on the island of Borneo. Kuching where we stayed is the capital of Sarawak, one of the most charming towns I have seen. It has beautiful colonial buildings elegantly merging with gracious modern architecture, a bit like Pondicherry or Panjim if you will. Its wide ethnic communities give Sarawak the character and its uniqueness – they are a very tolerant and diverse communities living together here. Islam is the official religion; however Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism all pervade and are respected. English is the spoken language and hence as a tourist one always feels connected. Sarawak is known for its multitude caves and museums of which I saw none, because my agenda was always clear. Beach bum and no more

And of course there was this cultural village where the ethnic folks lived and sold their wares. One got to see lifestyles, handicrafts, clothes, music, games, arts of many different cultures. Plus there was this fantastic restaurant which we went to a couplea times – great ambiance and personalized service. And of course without fail there had to be a handicraft shop to splurge on – so if I had to buy souvenirs and memories here’s where I’d go. I didn’t buy anything from there as on my multitude visits to M’sia before, I’d done enough and more crafts shopping.

Sabah on the other hand has sanctuaries, mountain climbing and lush surroundings which if you are a nature lover - can be a great elixir for you (I am a water body). Mount Kinabalu is the pride of Sabah. It lures climbers to peak the 4000m scale and many trekkers do this with joy. There is also a thermal – pool here that gives Japanese kind of hot spring bath but in open air. Quaint and cute:)

The beaches are lined by palms and are mercifully not populated, one odd person you may chance upon if you really look! Gives you the privacy, the quiet serenity and uplifting calm you seek. Totally my kinda place. Though I wish there were some arrangements for food nearby. Yes I remembered Goa oft. My friends went diving into Sipadan island nearby and they were gung-ho about the colourful tropical fish and corals in its crystal clear waters.

Genting was not my cuppa tea (which I don’t drink at all!) If you got spare cash to lose and if you want to relive your childhood, then I guess this is your kinda place. The rides at the amusement park were a sham compared to my childhood days- so thanks but no thanks, you go to Genting if you pretty much have nothing to do. Though if it were left to me, I’d probably stay in my hotel room and watch some trashy B-grade soap than go to Genting which was o-so-not- happening. It’s like going to a picnic spot in Bombay imagine a visit to Goregaon Aarey Milk Colony or some such place…

So if you are headed to Malaysia then I would recommend less time in KL, no time at all in Genting and a must see for Sabah and Sarawak. These are virgin places, full of folklore and stuff to discover, touristy to some extent but – breathtaking nature which you hardly get to see and feel and imbibe if you are a city dweller like me. Smiling land of people blessed by nature!