oh no! another Airport Transit Diary entry …


Ah ha … yet another airport transfer / transit / long lay over blog entry aka Penelope’s drama to the max time!
Ssshhh… Jon Bon Jovi is crooning away.
{naturally, he’s still the sex-God in my books, where time freezes and immortalizes him in my mind. Some people just never age. Oh common’ we accept Jesus as blond and blue-eyed – so cut me some slack on Jon Bon Jovi here}

This crinkled up white South African(?) man with his wife’s head lying on his lap has been staring at me endlessly ever since I took my seat directly in front of them. I’m beginning to feel a little discomfort. There’s a fine line between curiosity, intrusive and rude, and he has definitely proceeded to the middle-road of “intrusive”.

So, I decide to smile with the hope that he’ll feel embarrass that I am aware {how could I not be???}.
He stares harder, not flinching in any way … not even a minute movement in his pupils.

Maybe I should pull my yawn trick … 
though noted it failed on the Turks during my last loooong layover that was far from pleasant as I was denied the right to board my flight having woken up at 4:00 am and drove through Istanbul’s Asian and Eastern side to get to the check-in counter by 5-ish am.
How about this? Let me do some boogers housekeeping !!!!!?!?!?!???!!!!! {smirk}
I just looked up and there he is, still staring. 
Not in a disgusted manner. No sign of shock. Just staring.

OK. This is it!
I am going to stand up and do the fake electric guitar strumming to Bon Jovi.
{a couple of minutes later}
DONE. Bloody hilarious. 
I’ve got almost half the airport pre-check-in lounge staring at me … some chuckling … so nodding in encouragement. In short, a heck of a lot of people thinks I am cuckoo or are feeling deluded-ly happy that they have my nationality figured out – finally.

Japanese. That’s what I must be after that crazy stint.
Yes, that would naturally be their assumption. 

See, my skin colouring, eye colour, hair colour (every possible surface on my physics that has been tainted by melanin) and facial features (or lack of it) have been a topic of discussion for the longest time by just about everyone; the grocer, the laundry lady, the airport check-in desk, the moneychanger, the taxi driver, the border(s) gate people, general people discussing the weather by the roadsides … you name it.

Depending on my mood and level of insecurity, I could be Jane from Malaysia in Zambia, Susan from Hong Kong in Kenya, Katie from Singapore in Botswana. I was definitely tempted to go with “Chili”, “Tomato”, “Tom”, “Jerry”, “Coca”, “Cola”. See, that’s frequently the names I am offered when a tourist tout approaches; often in pairs with introductions along this line:
“What’s your name sista? I’m Chili and this is my brother Tomato” 
© Penelope Haque – All Rights Reserved – Chilli with RM 1 and USD 1, that I (Jane from the Malaysia) had given him in exchange of safe “unwarranted company” along the ‘no man’s land’ stretch between Zimbabwe and Zambia border crossing, done on foot!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
8 minutes later
My flight is not even showing on the screen!
And here comes a woman peddler with sheets, cushions, curtains and travel pillows.
‘no speak English’ is suddenly everyone’s standard replies – liars! 
But what disturbs me is the peddler’s inability to pick up the fact that all these fat cats waiting for their planes are liars holding on to English newspapers, books and magazines in their hands.
Then again, she’s trying to sell us travelers curtains and bed sheets! 

When my turn came around, I just looked at her with doe-eyes and shook my head slightly with a smile. At least in this part of the world, we are consistent with the international understanding of:
Up-and-down head vertical movement = YES, please
Left-and-right head horizontal movement = NO, thank you

I wonder who else, other than the Indians have gotten this the wrong way?

Many, many minutes later …
Geez… the old man’s son is one hot cutie pie!

Now the table has swaped sides and I am dangerously crossing the gawking line. 
Only problem is: ‘daddy’ thinks I’m cuckoo after the electric guitar performance.

Oh well, it’s free to look and with that I shall oogle.

I am seriously bored (as you can tell)with a mild throbbing head; thanks to the lingering flu and of course anxiety interrupted sleep over the last 48 hours.
By now I can’t phantom what the anxiety was as it has escaped me, but not the damn headache.

This inconvenience was forgotten for a few seconds when cutie pie stares back. We maintained our gaze for 4 seconds. And that was the end of it.

I’ve established that they are Russians; thanks to my almost non-existence comprehension of Russian (by now). There seems to be a scattering of Indians and Chinese nationals – I had noted on my flight and at immigration. But there’s nothing amidst with that; Indians and Chinese are everywhere; as with the Jews.
© Penelope Haque – All Rights Reserved 
I quickly learned a few hours later – after humouring myself with news in the local papers (that includes the front page news of a verdict of imprisonment of a group of men for gang raping a lesbian out of anger and homophobia) and magazines other travelers have left strewn over the waiting lounge chairs in airports – that the presence of Indians and Chinese was part and parcel of BRICS. 

BRICS, like the ‘dragon economies’ aka ‘ chopstick economies’ of the 1990s is the grouping of up and coming economies of the world; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

It appears that China had initially opposed South Africa’s admission into the grouping of BRIC … but thankfully some China-man saw how phonetically better BRICS sounds than BRIC … of course that’s not the reason, silly! I made it up.

123 minutes later …
(also post procurement of a cool foldable/collapsible mug – which I would probably use once, water purifying tablets – I had survived this long, do I really need them?, micro-fibre towels and a suppa-kewl “BUSH LOVER” t-shirt that mimics the Land Rover logo)
© Penelope Haque – All Rights Reserved 
I finally cleared customs and made my way to Gate A26 waiting to board BA6285.

Two incidences to note that under normal circumstances would not have annoyed me much.

At the boarding desk I was instructed to go back to the end of another queue as apparently I am not a BA Biz Class or whatever VIP Frequent Traveler card holder BA has. Though I pointed at the overhead LCD Screen that read: ECONOMY CLASS BA6285, the guy at the desk said I had approached the counter from the wrong queue. 

Only 5 minutes into my new snake-like queue I realized I have the Asia Miles VIP Frequent Flyer card which BA is part of the alliance. Oh bummer. 
But what the heck. Time is on my hands. This ain’t Heathrow or LAX.

Then, …. {drum roll please}, a slightly bent white elderly lady approaches the desk from the same ‘wrong’ queue I was at and despite conveying the same message he had conveyed to her, she stood there and was soon serviced. 

My boring gaze ensued naturally, channeling all bad energy and karma in the boarding clerk’s direction … to no effect on him but successfully aggravating my stomach acidity! 
Stupid? NO. 
Foolish? Yes, I am sire. Always have been, always will (I suspect).

When it was finally time for me to approach a different desk, I calmly walked forward, handed my e-ticket, Asia Miles card and gently explained my confusion as to why I was earlier diverted and requested to queue all over again. With some sweet exchanges and apologies, I was handed a free coffee coupon, given they didn’t have a BA lounge here.

Being a woman – who is born with scorn like everyone else in this world with the XY chromosome – I walked towards the desk I was initially turned away and showed the check-in clerk my coffee coupon, Asia Miles Card and smiled scornfully.

The coffee of course, like all free airline related “I am sorry to keep you waiting” was bad.

As I sit here concluding this post, a streak bleach bottle blond hands out airport survey forms only to the white passengers, omitting myself and at least 7 Japanese women with very confusing wardrobes consisting of boring looking vests, wide brimmed hats, white cotton socks, pressed grey slacks, white pearls and a slender watch.

Do we colour people deserves different service?
Do we colour people not have an opinion on service?
Or do you assume coloured people are incapable of reading and understanding the English language?

Don’t get me wrong. I HATE surveys.

Honestly, what irks me are these:
Why do countries that has been oppressed and colonialised continue to look-up to and revere their colonial ‘masters’? 

This happens back home as well.

I am NOT Chinese.
I am MALAYSIAN (the government does not need all the ridiculous 1-Malaysia initiaitves financed by my tax money to remind or educate me this. This is another blog topic to delved into but for now …)
I am sick of being generalized.
But then again, what do these ignorant people know? 
Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, South East Asians … we are all the same… to them.
This truly is a shame given how globalised and worldly people of the world has become, while embracing diversity and retaining their proud cultures.

And of course, I detest being associated to the generally loud, abrasive, unrefined lot of Chinese who, with their new found wealth treats others badly.

© Penelope Haque – All Rights Reserved 

              … relax! retail therapy awaits you …

9 thoughts on “oh no! another Airport Transit Diary entry …

  1. Linda, the label at the back of the shit is 'Earth Lover'.If you are South African … I LOVE YOUR COUNTRY!!!!!The immigration lady was so amused with my answer to her question of, "what brings you to South Africa?"I said, "Are you nuts??!? I LOVE YOUR COUNTRY!!! People are lovely. Food's amazing. You've got Kruger. And a short way away there's Zim and the falls and the crazy fat hippos in Botswana … the wine. Oh the wine and seafood… I want to live here"lolzShe suggested I get married!lolz … immigration!!!Good luck on the t-shirt,

  2. Hi Linda, the embroidered patch version is available in the shop at at the centre court of Jo'burg airport. You can't miss it. Not sure what the store is called now.The printed version is widely available in shops in the airport (at both domestic and international terminals) and at every Kruger gift shop.Good luck – it's really awesome!I got two; one says "BUSH LOVER" the other "SOUTH AFRICA".Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Hi Penelope, highly amusing as your blog is, I'm afraid I have a rather more pedestrian favour to ask: I'm desperately looking for one of those Bush Lover T-shirts you talk about and can't find one anywhere. Can you remember the name of the shop you found it at or perhaps close to or next to what other shop it was so I can phone the airport (Johannesburg?) and try and track it down? Perhpas the shirt has a label in it that indicated who made it? I'd be gratful for any help. thanks Linda

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