Monday, 2 July 2007

Security Alerts

I arrived early at an airport surrounded by hastily erected concrete blocks. Thye always do this, shut the stable door after the horse is long gone.

I faced my usual problem, that my one piece of hand luggage - the camera bag - is too big. They started getting strict recently and I've even been made to try to fit it in the size measurer. It never quite fits and I always have to smile a lot.

Since there was an attempted suicide bombing of an airport yesterday, and everyone is really following rules like it's going to save them... I will have to do a lot of smiling today before i walk on board with my laptop and camera gear.

A woman with too much makeup from Qatar Airlines worked her way down the queue giving out the all important "cabin baggage" tags.

"That looks heavy", she said, "If it's more than 7 kg then you'll have to check it in."

I smiled at her.

"But you don't have much other luggage... Hmmmm... when you get to the counter, see how much it all weighs." She wasn't going to make the decision.

I practised smiling at a few random people as I waited. Airline people don't get many smiles. Especially on days like this. I'm on a roll, the woman taxi driver refused to take any money from me this afternoon too, because I was "nice". I never had that happen before.

Soon a guy from the airline comes up and ushers me over to the first class check in. Sadly not an upgrade, but a queue jump, at least. Obviously, the first class check in guy didn't even look at my hand luggage except to see where to put the tag :)

Upstairs, the impact of extra security is clear. It takes an hour to get through passport control. They are x-raying shoes and belts, checking laptops and limiting liquids.

I queued at the forex counter to buy dollars and a guy pushed in.... just came and stood in front of me. He looked like an arrogant fucker too, dressed like a banker on holiday. Fat arse squeezed into some chinos and a pair of loafers that have only ever seen tarmac or marble. Open necked short sleeved shirt with a button down collar. Of course.

When the people in front of him finished, I just stepped in front of him and took my rightful place at the counter.

"Hi", I smiled at the woman.

He was too shocked to say anything, but could hardly complain.

I bought 400 USD, I know I'll need at least 300 to hire a 4x4 in Nepal, I now have a 10 hour drive from Kathmandu to this Tamghas/Gulmi place, rather than the internal flight. I'm not sure which is statistically safer, but I'm guessing it's the plane, probably not such fun though. If I pay for the hotels with my card, that should be OK. I don't want any USD left over.

Within minutes, I had food and I'd logged right into the middle of a muddy field on the last day of Secondfest.

I waited till the screen said "boarding" before getting up to go, but it was lying. Another security alert meant one of the terminals was evacuated, apparently, and the crew were unable to get through.

There are some honeymooners, I suppose because it's a Sunday in June, They have carefully thought out their coordinated "traveller" outfits. And have shiny new rings on their fingers.

Take off was an hour late. It's really hot in the plane, unusually. Now it's 1.45am UK time and we're over Iraq. I should sleep the old guy next to me has had two cans of Heineken and is singing along to Hotel California. Next stop Doha, I should make the connecting flight, with a bit of luck.

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