On route to Milan and it’s just dawning over the Nile River and it’s basin. From an altitude of 11000 m, the description of an oasis in the desert is apt. From Singapore to Milan is a12 hour flight. For the aviators amongst you I flew an Airbus 330 to Singapore then a Boeing 777 -300 to Milan.
There is a extended Spanish family (the plane terminates in Barcelona), with Grandparents, mother and 3 grandchildren spread around the seats in front and the rows across the aisle. I quickly do some mental arithmetic they all have individual seats. I fantasise that the absent father is obviously fabulously wealthy- a black haired sullen Spanish matinee idol, or famous matador? Then again they may make loads of money from an olive oil plantation?
Secondly, based purely on anecdotal evidence, a Business Class screaming, tantrum throwing infant is the equal of anything that they may throw up in Economy Class… Speaking of “throwing up”…..
I shall check out the new Bose noise cancelling headphones before the return trip to confirm the advertising claim- “now with even better noise cancelling capabilities”. My current pair can certainly cope with the huge pulsating Rolls Royce engine outside my 16A window seat but it is not up to the task of the infant in 16B. Perhaps Caryl can enlighten me. Is there is an adjective of the noun “tantrum”? It surely can’t be tantric?
It dawned on me as I left Adelaide, the reason that one is required to arrive at least 90 minutes before an international flight. Let me explain. It is the inevitable, repetitive queues: check-in being the first hurdle. It’s perhaps one of the more significant benefits of travelling Business. However “on line check-in” serves no obvious purpose as far as I can see at least for international flights. One still must present to a human who, I admit is all smiles and is very pleasant, but still checks you in on his/her computer terminal. Perhaps her Windows 7 flags that I have booked in on an Apple Mac and they don’t really trust the result?
Then there is the security check complete with a gentle brush over one’s body to detect powder. I have been brushed over rarely. If one day I was bored waiting for a flight in the Qantas Lounge, I am inclined to simply sit on the concourse and undertake an experiment in human psychology. I hypothesise that if you are male, bearded, tattooed wearing a David Jones neck scarf and of swarthy complexion or female with moderate to morbid obesity, (huirsutism is an optional extra) and wearing any sort of head gear, you will be inevitably searched for explosives. If one is a female from sub Sahara Africa and if the poor woman has upwards of 7 children in tow, then it is mandated by Minister Morrison that these individuals MUST be subjected to a thorough brushing! He rightfully argues that with 7 children, the risk of the woman carrying explosives is multiplied by a factor of 7.
Customs has been, in my experience, mostly efficient and friendly. When I first started to fly overseas, in my twenties, for totally inexplicable and irrational reasons, as I waited at the red line “waiting to be called”, I would be struck by fleeting feelings of paranoia and guilt. What would they read about me as they gazed at the monitor hidden from my eyes! If the tip of my shoes inched accidentally over that red line before being called, would a hidden machine gun mow me down, no questions asked? Once at the counter, why did the customs officer seem to take an interminably long time staring at the screen? Much longer than all the other travellers before me! Was it that anti Vietnam rally. “Only the one time officer, believe me”. Was it that I had smoked dope. “Only the one time officer, believe me”. Did his screen scream “known inverte”? I tried to act butch……
But the point of this rambling preamble is that the bottle neck at Adelaide International departures, is the last hurdle – in what can only be a planned exercise in leading a horse to water, all embarking passengers are forced, single file and funnelled through the duty free shop. The thoroughfare is so narrow, that were I to sneeze and lurch ever so slightly off course, I would inevitably destroy a pyramid display of VSOP brandy on my left or a mountain of Toblerone on my right.
Singapore Changi airport is still Singapore Changi airport! I acknowledge that it has superb facilities to keep transit passengers distracted rather than distraught. For the first time I was struck by the daunting choice one has specifically in headphones and in-ear “buds” – walls of them! The second most numerous electronic gadget appeared to be electric razors and shavers. Not only these, but miniature gadgets designed to remove unwanted hair from any or all parts of the human body. All one needed was to bung in a battery, then insert into the specific orifice.
What I found rather quirky and hard to fathom, was that based on the range and number of these gadgets, Singaporean Chinese must be more advanced in the oriental evolution scale when it comes to hair follicles? Now were I to be meandering down the duty free concourse at Athens International airport…
Physiologically Chinese men have just as much testosterone as I do- a typical occidental male, it’s just that they have less hair follicles.
We are about to commence our descent into Milan …
These pictures are of TURINO not Milan … I trained straight to Turin!
Street scene don’t be tricked by its emptiness! It was a Sunday and around the corner lay the city square!
Piazza Gran Madre di Dio, 4, 10131 Torino, Italy
My colourful bedroom – share facilities