Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Arrival Hall

Collecting the arrivals

Playing hostess not necessarily with the mostest can be exhilarating, the preparation that showcases your homes like it has never been for years in memory and the cleaner is invited twice in one week to shift the dust to other surfaces and stuff stray objects into malformed boxes.

The most important part is collecting your guests from their port of entry, the bus station is hardly sophisticated, the train station is tolerable but the airport is another place entirely.

You may not be sure of the expected arrival time of a bus, that of the train is set except where there are delays, strangely, I have waited for trains at the end of a seeming 6-hour long journey only to learnt 5 minutes before its arrival that it had been cancelled – it beggars belief.

The Arrivals Hall

Going to the airport suddenly seems like the most organised arrangement, you know the flight number, the expected arrival time and the signboards indicate if it has arrived or not – the waiting time is mostly expended in the baggage reclaim – that function is still not computerised, you need brawn to get your chattels off the cargo hold.

Now, I have met many at airports but Schiphol is a completely different experience, raucous it is rather than civilised, it is a party atmosphere and never reserved.It is a Dutch peculiarity, I have decided.

Family and friend groups, as many as 10 could be there to meet their quarry with colourful balloons, banners, cameras and kids running around, you will think it was a circus.

The passenger arrives and as the doors open, a tumult of joy and noise ensues, enough camera flashes to induce unwarranted discomfort and here I was thinking we were welcoming an entourage from Bombay – on closer inspection they were native Northern Europeans returning from an orgy of sun worship having sacrificed their natural tone for a possible skirmish with melanoma.

The love

I see the lady wait for her man and as she sees him, tears well up, a rush to a hug as she sweeps him off his feet – yes, I got the gender positioning right. Full labial smackers rather than the customary Dutch three kisses then other members of the welcoming party get theirs, but you see whose relationship is deepest.

Absence could make the heart grow the fodder of sadness but the expectation and arrival shows that absence does make the heart grow fonder still.

Where the relationship is familial, it appears the matriarch gets the first show of deep affection before anyone else, however, when that relationship skips one generation, one has a wry smile as grandson runs up to grandparent and this conversation ensues to the exclusion of the parents.

My life in a soppy universe

In those situations, one does wonder about that parallel universe, the one I woke up in a few months ago with a wife and 2 kids – dreams so sublime are nightmares in disguise because the thinking part of me wondered when wife and kids happened to me without me knowing or participating – the cold sweat, the palpitations and the sudden jolt into the comfort of reality.

The couples are young still, they are all still having children but some did not let the placenta drop before they were on to the next, they cope but it cannot be fun, if it were my situation.

My guests arrive, handshakes and hugs, after a drink we are back at my boudoir – need to turn down the sheets, it is almost bedtime.

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