I'm sitting in the departure lounge of Gate 113 at Dubai Airport, waiting to board my plane to London. I spot an elderly woman wearing a salwaar khameez
and sneakers and I smile quietly to myself. A man sits in the seat next to me, and is intent on making me listen in to his phone conversation - he's speaking that loudly. After 20 minutes of trying to concentrate on my book, we are finally called to board the plane. Having checking in online earlier, I was able to squint at the plane's seating plan and choose a relatively comfortable seat in row 17, which meant that there was no seat in front of me, so I actually had a decent amount of legroom to accommodate my 6ft frame. The only problem was that my headrest wasn't actually reaching my head, but was instead digging into my shoulder. No matter what I tried, I could not get the headrest to move, so in the end I had to sit slouching in my seat at such a low angle, that I may as well have had my legs in stirrups and gone into labor. Despite the rather awkward seating, I had not however, taken into consideration that my chances were pretty high that I would be seated next to a complete idiot. And so it was - the mid-20s guy who sat next to me looked like he was evicted from an episode of Survivor. No sooner had he disposed of his hand bagged and strapped himself in, slouched in his seat, he raised both feet up in the air and rested them on the panel in front of him, making a very uncomfortable looking V-shape. He pretty much looked like he had leapt off a diving board and was trying to break into a swan dive of some sorts.
Of course no flight is complete without the bawling baby, and my row just happen to have three couples with their kids. The first two couples had bawlers, which meant that no matter how hard I crammed in my complimentary headphones, I could not drown out the piercing baby screams. The third couple had an explorer - a kid no more than three years old who decided to make the aisle his own personal runway, tearing up and down without a care in the world. I resisted the urge to trip the kid up as he pelted through to the business class area with his poor father in pursuit.
We are soon served lunch, and mine consists of a pale looking fillet of fish drowned in a blood-red sauce, along with mashed potatoes. I peek through the felt curtains in front of me which separate Economy from Business Class and I can see people eating with real
cutlery off real
plates - not from plastic and aluminum trays that have been microwaved until they reach the temperature of the sun.
After seven hours, we begin to approach Heathrow airport, and I look out the window to the green landscape below. For some strange reason, the song Bittersweet Symphony
floods into my head, as we fly over towns, fields, and miles of railway tracks. I want to laugh, cry, scream, and hug someone all at the same time, as it's just dawned on me that I'm miles away from Dubai, ready to begin my vacation.
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