Hola! Hope you're smiling :)
At around 12 am or maybe even later, I was beginning to relax and not get too restless. I had a few more hours to kill, it was getting extremely cold and the crowd began to thin out. As the crowd got sparse at the airport, I decided to spend the rest of the hours observing the airport staff, they did seem that interesting – little did I know that they’d be the most interesting airport staff through all the airports I will visit over the next month.
Right in front of me, a few feet ahead was the officials lounge. I was shocked to notice that they smoked freely within their space. It made me angry at first that these men should enjoy such privilege but upon further observation and beginning to like them for their chutzpah, I got tolerant to their luxury – in fact, I sympathized with them a little later and liked the fact that they were free to enjoy this tiny bit of luxury through tough, long days.
I wish I had some popcorn and soda because what I saw in front of me was no less than a movie – except that it was like the old kinds, silent. At a distance, I saw these very young Arab men with their coats off, white shirts’ sleeves rolled, perfectly oiled, trimmed hair, flaying their strong arms and speaking with such passion and animation that it made me wonder what they spoke of. It was a group of over a half a dozen men with only one of them speaking at a time, possibly narrating an incident or making a point while the others listened in rapt attention. At the end of every two or three minutes, all of them broke into laughter and that made me laugh. I envied their energy, their camaraderie and their absolute amusement that came from mere talking. I wished to be a part of that group, I wished to listen to them, smoke and laugh – it looked like so much fun!
And it reminded me of my Arab friends, especially Abdullah, the most Arab of them all who shook his hands as they did and spoke with such zestful energy. My friendship with these really nice Arab boys – Abdullah and Nawaf helped me understand the Arab male camaraderie – they are the best of friends, brothers almost with a deep sense of community, they enjoyed their male company and lived in the moment – laughing, talking, making fun. Even if they spoke things of grave importance, I doubt if there would be any change in the level of their bonding – all Arab men are blood brothers or so it seems from a distance.
In a group, they all looked mighty handsome, not sure how attractive they’d be individually. Their confidence and nonchalance made me envy them. It filled them with an ineffable charm that I found very attractive. How I longed to be seated among them! The most impossible thing to dream of ever.
Within 30 minutes, a group of aged African Muslim men and women descended into the room and along with them came one of the most handsome of the airport staff. The two staff members seated themselves comfortably to check the Africans’ passports and lead them to their flight to Khartoum – Addis Ababa. The airport officials were all set when one of them realized that the group is still relaxing oblivious to the airports calls for boarding – his gesture at waking these men and women and asking them to hurry made me laugh hard. I sat in the corner of the lounge watching them hurry through passport checking and boarding. The airport staff, in fact one of the two men was very kind, gentle and slow with the elderly group. One of the younger members of the group, a young girl of no more than 20 seemed to have a problem with her passport. I could just not tell what the problem was but I could see that the airport staff was going out of its way to help, and eventually sent the lady to board her flight. This warmed my heart. After all were boarded, all these nice men packed up to leave – I could see that they were done for the day but I wasn’t ready to let them go yet. I wish they wouldn’t leave or if they did, they would come back. I almost waited for them to return for over 30 minutes since they left but none came back.
My flight was ready to be boarded at around 3:30 – 4 am and I was very happy to leave Jeddah on a happy, peaceful note and find myself in London in less than ten hours. The first thing I did upon entering the flight to London was of course to get rid of the abaya! The flight was fairly empty with no occupants on seats next to mine, I relaxed, got some rest and reached London safely. Oh by the way – the SA cabin crew on this international flight was exceptionally nice, it made me tired, hypocrisy is tiring when one has to grin and bear.