Wednesday, July 28, 2004

#1 Departures
Getting off the Brussels-Paris Nord train, I spot two customs officers at the other end of the platform. I know they'll stop me. As they search through my suitcase, they launch pleasanteries at me, which I deflect with a smile and terse replies.

Where are you going?


Are you carrying narcotics?


(jokingly) You'll be able to get everything you need over there anyway.


The RER (subway lines that extend into the suburbs) takes me to the airport. Returning, there will be an incredibly beautiful café au lait-skinned woman - doubtless a model, as my neighbours on the subway will agree - waiting to take the RER. There will also be the interesting sight (but not sound) of a guy seemingly succesfully flirting with her. I will almost be able to see his brain furiously scrambling to come up with things to say to her. She will go sit next to him when the subway arrives. They will walk together when they get out at Paris-Nord. I will lose sight of them as he, realising that they are soon to separate, gets ready to ask for her phone number.

A small two-wagon conducterless train whisks me to the terminal. We go through tunnels lit only by lamps on the ceiling or on either side. It feels like a cross between an evil genius's underground lair and Indiana Jones, minus the boulder.

I get to the check-in counter. This is where Martinique begins. A massive line of variously coloured people, many luggin massive packages for the folks back home. Those who simply have too much overweight are seeking out fellow travellers with lighter loads. The family visits, the meals, the smells, the music and the beaches are almost tangible here, an Atlantic Ocean away.

Trickle-down theory works in the airline industry, if nowhere else. Since the last time I flew long-distance, individual TV screens have trickled to the back of the plane.