Sunday, June 27, 2010

Flight to Pakistan

Finally arrived in Abu Dahbi and able to stretch my legs. Small, small seats, much tighter than going to Africa - or maybe just cramped because I couldn't relax for fear I'd bump the person next to me.
Perfectly nice young man from India who didn't snore, rest his head on my shoulder as he slept, hog both arm rests nor did he sit so that his leg touched mine. Very nice young man.
I should have slept for as long as he did, but no, I watched a movie (started with Invictus then thought Peter will want to see this, so I switched to another one) then another. Then they had technical difficulties and many of the screens around me were blank.
The most annoying thing was that some people had horrible sneezing fits but didn't couver their mouths. I saw the women later and I had to frown. I couldn't wait to douse myself in Vit.C and take a long hot shower, ew!
The funniest thing was a woman in traditional shalwar kameez who found me fascinating. She stared and stared openly, even smiling on occasion or crinkling her nose at me. but never attempted to communicate with me otherwise. She stared into my face - not up and down like she was evaluating my dress, not disapprovingly, not shyly. As if she were with me - you know what I mean. Even going to board the plane, she cut in front of me in line to give our tickets and then proceeded to stand next to me as if she were waiting for me. Of course, if she were in front or behind me, how could she watch me? No, she wasn't watching me, she was looking into my face. I don't really know why, so I pretended I didn't see her. She left the plane with a nod as if she was saying, I'll see you later. Oh well...
Still and all, a pleasant enough trip (so far).
I arrived at Abu Dahbi and while I suppose it's a big airport, it's not that big that you would have to walk miles to get to your gate. There were people with varying levels of western and eastern dress. I noticed the help desk had a woman with beautiful eyes shining behind her full black headpiece/veil and black gown. She said hello can I help you with a sweet sing song that made me smile she seemed so happy. I was early for the next flight. Just wait here, she said. I wandered around noticing how similar yet different things were. For example, there were actually chaise lounges, making it pleasant should you have a cancelled flight or a long layover. In JFK, they discourage you from even sitting, let alone lying down! There were large screen TV's to help while away the time. And - get this! There were computers with FREE internet connection. Not only that! No one on the computer stayed any longer than was necessary, gladly giving up their time so that others could use them. How long would those computers last in JFK - two weeks? maybe...
I sent my family another email, mainly coz I now had no cellphone coverage and I didn't know when I would. Besides, I thought it was so cool to email from the free internet cafe! And to be honest, I wanted my sister-in-law in particular not to worry. I called her and my nephew before I left JFK. I heard their answering machine go on and then burst into tears. I left a message that blubbered something like I'm at the airport on my way to wah! Islamabad, Pakistan, WAH! I'll call you when I get home in a week. Blubber, blubber. I'm not sure why I'm crying, but I can't stop...I finally just hung up.
I don't know what came over me. I hadn't cried like that since I met the San in the Kalahari. Sure, this trip was very similar. I was going on a trip without my husband or my children. I'm going on a journey that wouldn't be just far in distance, but in sentiment. I was going to Pakistan and I wasn't sure what I'd find there.
As I looked around the waiting room ready to board the plane for Islamabad, I picked out the other Fair Trade delegates. It wasn't hard. They were the tired, dirty, but upbeat conservatively dressed westerners - anxious, but eager, they were just like me.
Several of the 14 (one must have dropped out last minute), hadn't made the connecting flight due to a storm in Chicago (I believe) and so, there were only 10 of us here on this flight.
At Abu Dahbi, at this major crossroads, I waited with the others, waited to get on a plane to take us to a land we knew little about to work with women whom we'd never met.
And there it is, call for flight 100 to Islamabadand. As I got up to board the plane, a phrase came to mind.
"Here we goooo."
yup, here we go.

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