17 Apr 2008

Journey to The Home of the Stars

So we left off when my visa had been approved, and they went as far as giving me a visa for a whole year. Maybe I should have celebrated? I only wanted to be here for 2 weeks...Mmmh.

One of the reasons why I love travelling so much is the meeting people part and how stereotypes seem to come to life over and over again. Minutes after boarding the plane in Nairobi, one was already in play. My seat was in the middle aisle, and had to go over one seat to get to mine. There was a lady (based on first impressions) already settled and had to go over her. I stopped in front of her and told her that my seat was the one next to hers - politely excused myself, I'd say. She went on sitting, for about a minute as I stood there, blocking the aisle feeling the impatience of all the people behind me. I figured she was not gonna get up for me to pass. I thought, well, if she wants me to squeeze through, I'm down with that. After all, we squeeze through seats all the time in Kenya as there is this obsession with first occupying the seats closest to the door, making it hard for everybody else to get into buses / matatus. I'll be blogging about that soon.

So I brace myself and start squeezing in to my seat... sideways. She gets up, angrily and in a French accent says 'What are doing? I was letting you pass and you did not. Now you want to pass?' She was saying these as I got into my seat. After I sat down
I looked over to her, a retort on my lips. I caught myself in time.

Man she was angry!

That is not the kind of anger you get because someone annoyed
you in a plane- that was years and years of pent up anger, now being released in small doses. Common sense warned me against trying to reason with her as giving logic to her would be adding gasoline to a fire.
Now that is not a situation you want with someone you are going to be sitting next to for the next eight hours. Of course you could always switch seats but who would want to sit next to her? or me, depending on how you look at the situation.

Eight hours later, landed in Heathrow. Had a few hours to kill, so went shopping. My boss went to Wagamama in Terminal 5, where I was to meet her later. I start walking to towards the restaurant, and this girl stops me at the door.

Girl: This is a restaurant, you know. Me: I know And I walk in.

No, I was not carrying a dog, just my carry-on case. So there was no issue of pets here. Now if that is not racism at it's peak, then George Bush is the best thing that ever happened to America. Well, him and E! News.

I let that go too. The fact that I have the ability and reason to cause a fracas over such matters, and choosing not to do it kind gives me a sense of power. I don't understand it, but it really does. I told my boss about it. She called over one of the waitress, a black one, and asked her if people walked into Wagamama accidentally, not knowing it's a restaurant. She said no. What did you expect? I was smiling to myself, almost laughing. To me, that sounded like 'Do people walk into McDonald's thinking it's a hospital? Later, when i got to Los Angeles I told my (celebrity) friends about it, and we spent a whole evening speculating what the girl at the door had imagined I was confusing Wagamama for. That conversation was the centre of the party that lasted over 5 hours!! If I had the time, I'd list all suggestions made (by half stoned folks.). One scenario went like this:

Girl: This is a restaurant, you know. Me: Really? Oh, shucks! You see I really wanted to use the table over there, you know, to pee. What say you, I'll walk in , walk out, I'll be really quick . I won't make a huge mess. I'll make sure it does not trickle down to that couple having noodles on the next table.

We then board our flight to Los Angeles. Half way through the flight, my entertainment channel goes kaput. I decide to go to the bathroom and call a flight attendant at the same time. So i leave the bathroom, and a lady flight attendant is standing close to the door, her back to me.
Me: Excuse me Back still facing me Me: Excuse me (a little louder) Back non responsive. Maybe I should poke it with a stick, see if it moves Me: Excuse me Back turns to me, can almost see the nostrils flaring... She: I heard you. Me: Could have fooled me for all the acknowledgment you gave!

And walked away.

Gee, if she had put this sign on her back.....
......I would not have bothered.

2 commented:

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Alex Mcone said...

Wow. Dont you want to just throttle them ?

People will be people I guess.