Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Travelog - Take Off

The migrating bird has landed.
The note I added to my previous post still stands. This isn't my final departure from my grove, but a profound thrust in that direction.

Traveling alone over great distances and long hours gives your brain a big shove towards psychosis. Not only are you uncomfortable, tired, sleepy and in a sterile environment, you are also coming across more people than you would in a month of everyday living. Add to that the fact that you have nobody to speak and interact with, and you have all the catalysts for wild mental activity that takes your imagination and twists it into sometimes valuable but mostly surreal insight.

Of course, the only difference on this trip is that this time I have a blog to vent out all of those ideas and lighten the pressure in my exhausted cranium. So this is the first post in a series I'll call "Travelog".

Leaving Beirut

All trips from Beirut start at the airport, as we have no true civilian seaport to speak of and the land crossings only get you to places you don't really care to go to. So the Lebanese have always had a strong connection to that airport south of Beirut, the one they now call Rafik Hariri International airport officially, but to us it's just "the airport". I remember Beirut airport in it's war time state. The dark sandstone halls with high-ceilings, the chaotic buzzing activity (mostly pushing, shoving and stamping) and the second floor viewing platform that used to let you peer out onto the apron and runways and up along the hills to the south. There was always something heart-warming about seeing those old 707 jets with the big red tailfin and the sharply angular cedar. Something unmistakably "Lebanese". Of course there was something unmistakably Syrian as well, the non-uniformed 'security' Syrian staff who would take pleasure in humiliating us on arrival and departure, tossing our passports to us across the room like they were useless scraps. Maybe to them, that was what they were.

In comparison, today's airport is modern, clean and better designed. I remember when the new airport first opened, it was being completed in stages. It wasn't very efficient and not all details had been covered, but for the most part it certainly looked like it had the makings of something truly first class. Now, I haven't been out of the country for the past 3 years, so I don't know when exactly that process got derailed, but something sad has happened.
While waiting at the check-in counter the power went out. Twice. Amid the beeping of the computer terminals and the resetting of the weighing belts, I tried my best to get the image of a darkened control tower warm in the glow of candlelight out of my head. And other little annoyances which I will not get into now because a) they'll make me seem picky and b) little did I know that by the end of the trip, I would be wishing every place were Beirut.

To be continued...

6 Comments:

Blogger a h m a d said...

wish you the best of success in your quest. :)

10:06 PM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Eve said...

"the airport" gives me goose pimples every single time! I'll be there next monday and am scared already.. not of the plane, not of the trip, not of the place I'm heading to (akeed la2), just of the airport.. habal :p

Hope you're beginning to settle down, Ramz.

10:20 AM, November 24, 2005  
Blogger Xylocaine said...

amigo...shta2na...i was waitin for you to blog...that was the signal right!;) hope your trip was smooth and those nic gums worked...did your fantasy come true? sexy blond seated near on the plane? take care...keep Blogging

3:35 PM, November 24, 2005  
Blogger Slink said...

"The devil himself had probably redesigned Hell in the light of information he had gained from observing airport layouts"
Anthony Price

I don't care if they're clean, and brand spankin new- they suck the life out of everyone. I used to sit and sketch at a nearby airport... grim grim days.

Best of luck on your travels Ramzi! x

5:39 PM, November 24, 2005  
Blogger Ramzi said...

ahmad
Thanks for your good wishes.
I wouldn't call it a "quest" though.
I'm starting to feel like the Starship Enterprise...

Eve
Inti iltiya mish ana!
But seriously, why the goose pimples?

Xylocaine
Negative on the nic gums and the blond.
Miss you too buddy...

Slink
I second the life-sucked-out phenomenon.
By law, that quote should be stamped on every ticket!
Did you catch me flying overhead? Nah. Too cloudy.

8:18 AM, November 25, 2005  
Blogger Eve said...

walla shou :p ! tayyeb ya ramz!

actually, I started writing something about it a while ago, but haven't posted it. stay tuned :)

9:25 AM, November 25, 2005  

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