International Writers Magazine: Travel
Heathrow Airport Takes On New Dimensions
way to India we stopped in England for three days, but on the way
back, we were scheduled with a five hour layover at Heathrow airport.
This would take place after flying fourteen hours from Delhi, with
another ten hours of flying time to endure before we would finally
arrive in Detroit by way of Montreal.
The prospect of
that endless journey home depressed me every time I thought of it -
especially having to hang around the airport in England from five to
eleven a.m. when we could board the next plane to get on with our journey
back to the United States. Five dreary hours, exhausted, wrinkled
and unshowered, stuck in a boring airport, wanting to lie down, get
clean, be home. It all seemed the worst of ordeals as I anticipated
it in advance.
As it turned out, after nearly three weeks in India the noise and heat,
the riot of people, colors, goods, and animals all jammed together in
bursting streets, made the glitzy coolness and spaciousness of Heathrow
seem a nirvana of health and orderliness - the fruit of technological
and marketing genius - an oasis, manna for an exhausted and over-stimulated
Heathrow Airport boasts a branch of the famous Harrods department store
that does more business than the one in downtown London. Chaste
displays beckon - one belt made of leather so soft even your eyes can
caress it, one Yaeger sweater tastefully draped, a single piece of
flowered Wedgwood - all priced to deplete your pocket book with ease,
no sweaty bargaining with rupees, or any other currency, to cause the
slightest ripple in this chic milieu.
Duty free shops with French Brandy, the best Irish whiskies, Italian
perfumes, Japanese cameras, chrome and high tech lighting, sales women
in high heals and short, slim skirts speaking the Kings English
in perfectly modulated tones, wide hallways with glistening floors free
of litter - floors I wanted to kiss in gratitude for their cleanliness
and the sense of security they gave me - restaurants with food that
did not challenge the stomach with exotic and pungent spices and demanded
nothing adventurous of the tongue. Even a McDonalds - to
which my sister-in-law escaped without sharing the news with us in order
to indulge herself in a Big Mac breakfast, after maintaining her insistence
that she had enjoyed eating nothing but peanut butter for the previous
eighteen days - all called to me and soothed my soul.
I made frequent field trips to the duty free shops, deciding to buy
my husband a bottle of Napoleon Brandy, since I had found nothing in
the crowded stalls of India I thought would attract him. Then
I discovered the forty-five English pounds Id paid actually translated
into more than ninety U.S. dollars. After debating high priced
purchases of four or five hundred rupees, which translated into thirteen
or so American dollars tops, this seemed a fortune. Jim, who is
fiscally conservative, would kill me, I was sure.
I went back to the shop to inquire into their return policy, and was
persuaded by a tall, stunning blonde dressed like a fashion model that
I had invested wisely. A third trip resulted in the model insisting
I taste the brandy. My previous indecision had inspired her to
open a bottle. Though I protested, as it was only nine in the morning
and I had never been inclined toward the taste of brandy at any hour,
one sip in a thimble sized plastic cup clinched the sale. She
was right, you do pay for the aging and it was clearly worth the price.
Anyway, I reasoned, the way we drink, there was always the possibility
that someday our grandchildren would inherit it.
I could have taken up permanent residence at Heathrow Airport that August
morning. Those five hours flew by as minutes in a sensuous haze
of elegant consumer good and order - the very things I had disdained
on the way there.
© LAlbert284 at comcast.net
Linda Albert is a corporate trainer and personal communication
and life coach with a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistics. An
author and poet, Linda's work has appeared in many publications, including
McCalls Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Among her awards are the
Olivet and Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Prizes. She is a recipient of
the International Merit Award in Atlanta Review's 2007 International
Poetry Competition. Linda resides in Longboat Key, Florida with her
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