Travel Chronicles

When you face struggles with an attitude of openness—open to the painful feelings and emotions you have—you find out that it’s not comfortable, but you can still be fine and you can still step forward.  Openness means you don’t instantly decide that you know this is only going to be a horrible experience—it means you admit that you don’t really know what the next step will be like, and you’d like to understand the whole truth of the matter.  It’s a learning stance, instead of one that assumes the worst. Marc Chernoff


I left South Africa on Thursday, my first stop was Dubai, 8 hours away, the lines to check in for Dubai were crazy until people started getting annoyed and shouting because of the chaos, I pulled out a book to keep my focus. In the end I thought about the lady who started shouting, how many of us benefit from the rabble rouses, she demanded some order in the way they were checking in the passengers. People were not joining any lines, they were generally just pushing and squeezing in the lines wherever they could.  As the time ticked down people were pushing and being more disorderly.
The lady basically went to the agents and demanded that they do something about it, they did nothing but what happened after that was, the people who were pushing decided to behave as they were being called out. Give thanks for the ones who stand up for themselves, so many times those who come behind, sometimes unknowingly, benefit from those that stood up and made noise. I was reminded of that in the check in line at the OR Tambo airport.

Dubai's airport is like a huge mall, the high end shops, trolley's to shop, people shopping. I decided to forgo any shopping particularly given my financial situation. But Costa Coffee held memories  for me. I wanted to have a mocha for old times sake. Many times when I lived in London, I would take a book and sit in Costa Coffee sip and read for hours. I pulled out my card to pay after ordering the coffee- Declined
Doesn't it sound louder when the attendant says declined? To me it sounded like she said it on a loud speaker PA System. I smiled because if I didn't I would cry. I bought a couple of things for my mu, at the airport just before using my card! Okay then, let's use the other card. Voila - it worked
I walked to the gate and I saw that the flight was stopping in Milan- What? With a 4 hour layover? This was no where on the itinerary I got so annoyed! I was under the impression that I would be flying directly from Dubai to NYC. No such luck!
Got to Milan- had to go through the whole take out laptop and shoes drill, wait the 4 hours it is now Friday night!
Arrived after just over 8 hours in NYC, got into the immigration line, the women said to me close my door and come with me
I was shitting bricks, I did not even want to ask any questions
The put my passport in a blue folder and took me into a room with other passengers, some Indian, some Muslim, Some black women. My tummy was churning.
I have been travelling to NYC since I was 11 years old and this is the first time that I have been "taken into a room" so many things were going through my head. I sat and saw how they asked the people in the room for documents, money and to pledge that what they were saying was true
My name was called after 45 minutes.
"What is your business in NYC?"
"I am in transit, heading home"
"From where"
"South Africa"
"Will you spend the night at a hotel?"
"No, maybe a lounge"
"Do you want to see my boarding pass?"
"No"
Silence
Keys are tapping
Stamps are stamping out of what looks like a special lunch box
"Give the officer this card"
She returns my passport to me
I walk out and hands the officer
"You're all clear"
Well phew!
At the moment I am writing this waiting on my 4 hour layover at the JFK Airport
What Did I Learn? Don't always assume the worst before a situation plays out

Peace
Have you read any of Akosua's work?

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