21st January 2015 – Sharjah, UAE
We build homes, buildings and offices so magnanimous,yet feel content, in a weird way, sleeping in an airport.That joy you feel, is called a satiated wanderlust.While the joy of a home is sublime, Today, its the nomad I court.
I may complain about waiting and crappy airport services a lot, but the fact is: I love being in airports. There is something so nomadic about staying in an airport, that it even that tickles my wanderlust. Something like Tom Hank’s ‘Terminal’.
I hope you read the sarcasm in my lines. Because I just had my heaviest dose of Airport today.
So, last night after I left Unawatuna, I went with my Sri Lankan friends to Colombo. First at the SSC (Sinhalese Snooker club) and then at 2 different clubs, we tried to make as much fun out of a tuesday night as we could. And then, I finally boarded my flight at 4 AM. The immigration was problematic, because I had a Turkish Evisa, which they looked at from different angles, and finally let me through.
4.5 trying-to-sleep hours later, I was in Sharjah for transit. And the worst part was, the transit was a total of 14.5 hours! I’ve been to Sharjah before, and have no fainted idea what to do to spend that time. I had a little breakfast, and then slept somewhere on a corner for a bit. Then started talking to the Pakistani man in the picture.
He was returning home after toiling for 5 years in UAE, doing menial jobs that were so difficult that you and I would squeak in horror at the prospect of doing it. All in the desert heat. But he was happy, he had been sending money back home to his family for 5 years, and it was a wonder he had saved any for this trip.
“Good that you are leaving. Now you can be with your family, and find something closer to home”
“I will be back in Sharjah in 1 month”. He smiled.
People are complex, but their motivations and actions are even more complex. Or at least that is what some people I met while travelling, have taught me. We continued to joke for another hour about who has the better cricket team (seriously, cricket is the best icebreaker when an Indian talks to a Pakistani!), and then he boarded. And I still had 10 hours of transit left!
I slept for a little bit more, but the airport announcements made it impossible to sleep more than 10 minutes at a stretch. Woke up from time to time, to eat lunch and dinner, and to read some pages of Bill Bryson’s ‘A short history of everything’. Then go back to sleep.
This continued till 9 PM, when I finally boarded the flight to Istanbul. Another 4.5 hours of constrained seating, and I was in Sabiha Goekcen International airport by midnight. The fun was only beginning. I had to get to Esenlar Otogar for the bus (55 km) to Ankara (roughly 8 hours away)
If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, consider me in a travel-induced coma.