I got back from Romania on Friday night. I went there via Poland, where I had a meeting on Monday afternoon. The airplane diet doesn’t contribute especially well to my waste line (or to be honest it begins to contribute too much). I’m also pretty sure that even when awaken from a deep sleep I can repeat, word by word, the BA take-off instructions. It’s Saturday night, everybody’s out and I’m happily snuggled in front of TV– no airports for another 5 days.

 

Travelling for business has a different feel to it. Heathrow airport on Monday morning beats the busiest London highway. Half sleepily, I drop my luggage on the conveyer belt, and off I go to stand in a long line to get me through the security systems. I’m squeezed between a Burberry clad lady with a hyperactive child and a serious looking guy in an even more serious suit. The line is moving very slowly. We are told that, due to the staff shortages, only one X-ray machine works. This is especially annoying since there is at least 6 BA people happily trotting up and down the line trying to push a plastic bag into passengers’ hands in case we try to smuggle some liquid on board. They don’t quite believe me that I’ve already surrendered everything, and after rummaging through my handbag, they triumphally pull out a lipstick! The queue begins a discussion if the lipstick qualifies as a liquid. I give up my protests, obediently put a lipstick in a zip lock bag and continue queuing.

 


The hyperactive child decides to befriend me. He comes over with a fire engine truck and starts driving it up and down my leg. The child’s mother pulls him away …. together with the truck and a piece of my stockings. I’m left with a huge hole gaping on my calf – not a good look. 20 minutes later I make it to the front of the queue. The progress is temporarily stopped by the same screaming kid. He refuses to hand over his truck so that it can be put through an X-ray machine. A level of his screaming reaches a climax. The serious looking guy suggests that they should put the truck through the X-ray machine together with the kid. By this stage, I would have happily hoisted the kid on the conveyer belt myself.

 

10 minutes and one hysterical kid later we are again on our way. We are asked to take our shoes off. A woman standing a couple of places ahead of me isn’t impressed. She demands paper slippers. After a moment of silence the queue starts laughing – most of us had been through this too many times to pay attention. The whole process is almost like a scene from Metropolis – one robot after another performing the same functions.

 

Finally, I’m through, but I have to buy a new pair of stockings! Waiving the stockings in the air and hastily gulping my first coffee of the morning, before they take it away from me at the gate, I make a mad dash to the airplane. Catching my breath at the gate, I find myself surrendered by nuns and people in sombreros. It’s getting a little surreal! For a one confused moment I wander if, by any chance, I’ve stepped into Almodavar’s latest movie’s set. Then I realise – it’s a catholic group returning from a pilgrimage to Guadalupe!! Another week is about to begin, and I haven’t even got on the plane yet….

Kasha, 33, London

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