Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Human Viewing Gallery

When you travel domestically in Australia, you can get off the plane, collect your bags and walk out the door to get a taxi or meet loved ones.

Traveling internationally is a different story as leaving the airport is a more intense experience. You must have your immigration card completed, pass through the checkpoint and on to the luggage carousel where you may have to complete a customs card before passing through another screening process. After these ordeals you are free to exit out of, usually, a clouded glass exit that no one can see through from the outside.

You breathe a sigh of relief as you walk through the door, thankful that the ordeal is over and you were permitted to enter, only to be confronted by a wall of people wanting to be the first to spot their loved ones as they come out. Mixed amongst these are hotel and resort representatives holding signs with random names as they struggle to find the passengers they are supposed to collect.

If you are one of these passengers that is being picked up by a stranger, you have to walk slowly along the wall of people to read every sign carefully. I can't help but think that this is what zoo animals must feel like as I walk past all of the staring faces.

Mumbai airport was the worst example of this that I have experienced. I walked out to literally, hundreds of people yelling and shouting with the background noise of taxis and tuk tuks beeping for passengers to choose them over others. I walked past about 50m of signs and posters looking carefully for my name. I got to the end and regretfully didnt spot my name which meant I had to do the walk of shame in the opposite direction. After four trips up and down the gallery like I was on a fashion runway, I threw in the towel and called the race organizers who, as it turned out, were running late. So I pulled up a chair right in the middle of the zoo feeling as if a hundred eyes were on me.

I did nothing but stare at my iPhone screen for half an hour until the race organizers showed up and identified me within the viewing pen.

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