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Monday, September 16, 2013

Airport City

Alexander McCall Smith, speaking for Isabel Dalhousie in one of those delicious Edinburgh based stories, writes that "....hell must be like an airport, with a surplus of artificial lighting and fake smiles...", or some words to that effect. I cannot remember (or find online) the exact quote, so if anyone reading this can point me to the book I'm trying to remember, I'd appreciate it a lot. Or we'll just have to wait until someone develops an exhaustive quotes page for this wonderful author.

New Delhi's T3, one of my favorites (picture from www.hok.com)
I remembered the phrase when I entered Dumdum airport today evening. I was weary, weighed down with Sunday evening blues. But I felt an instant lifting of spirits as I walked into Dumdum, and realized that airports always have this effect on me. Even when I'm grumpily taking 4 AM flights. I find that I'm seized with sudden involuntary happiness every time I walk into a terminal. Perhaps it is the chance to do unabashed people watching - there are people hugging, kissing, crying (or struggling to not cry), arguing - and all of it is fuel to my soul. I love the bright lights, the book stores and the doughnuts; I love the gleaming floors and tall ceilings. I even love the 'fake' smiles of the airport staff and sales people. Besides, who am I to say that the smiles are fake?

Further introspection reveals that what sums up the magic of airports for me is the air of anticipation. There's a feeling, that from this moment on, anything can happen. You're off to another city, another country, new and exciting experiences will follow. Even if it's a city that I'm returning to for the 97th time, the terminal whispers - you never know, something utterly different can happen to you tomorrow.

I think we're meant to feel this way about life in general, every minute of it - that there is just so much to look forward to. An airport perhaps is the place where the mind is able to pause, stop being mindless, and reaffirm that there are potential new beginnings, all the time, and everywhere.

2 comments:

  1. True words! I almost always have a sense of excitement when I am at an airport, the anticipation of a vast expanse of time that is definitely going to be different (at the very least because of a change of venue)and rich with the potential of new discoveries.

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  2. "I think we're meant to feel this way about life in general, every minute of it - that there is just so much to look forward to. An airport perhaps is the place where the mind is able to pause, stop being mindless, and reaffirm that there are potential new beginnings, all the time, and everywhere."

    The blog for me beautifully captures a moment of a happy trail in my mind when I am at the airport. Thanks for articulating that so wonderfully. Reminds me of the scene from Love Actually - the amplitude of human emotion at Airports exceeds any other place. People departing from a place they love, finding it hard to let go of an anchor. People reuniting with their loved ones. People traveling for work, observing the variety of emotions exhibited before them. People waiting for their flights, with the longing of soon being in the arms of their beloved. A girl with thick glasses immersed in her novel, trying to put a leash on that fervor in her heart. A kid running care-free on escalators yelling, "Dadu, we are coming!"

    The veritable vestibule of vivacity, that's what an airport is to me. :)

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