There is nothing worse, than forcing a concrete block out whilst your plane is boarding.
The legend that plane food makes one severely constipated was kindly exposed to me whilst my connecting flight from Dubai International Airport to Durban began to board. Caught between the conundrum, do I leave my stall in mid push, or hope Economy class doesn’t end in E (the zone just after mine) was a difficult one to make; the latter won. However, with the grace of Africans boarding a plane, the Emirates 777 failed to leave me in one of the most glamorous, if ostentatious airports this world has to offer. Complete with its own internal waterfall and water features, stores that causally sold 22 carat gold jewellery and a Burger King which had burgers larger than any that had ever dined to cross the English Channel as well as (free) chicken chips, Dubai Airport was its own tourist feature.
Yet the joy of flight failed to leave me once I had entered the plane. A smooth journey, it too, had its own surprises and humour in store. At one stage, whilst revisiting those enigmatic in-flight toilets, a passenger far too giddy on the free Champagne decided to tell me how much he had enjoyed my laughing ( I had decided to watch Dr.Zeuss and the Lorax, fantastic film), and proceed to ask where I was going in Durban. Poor geographical knowledge and the exiting of the previous toilet user came to my rescue. Yet it’s always incredible how small and condensed the world is, and if you don’t sleep throughout an eight-hour flight, the interesting people one meets.
Sitting next to a Cape Town native who was currently working in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, a simple exchange of niceties transformed themselves into a sharing of faith and witnessing. How does one explore their faith in an environment that appears so hostile? So here I was, being thrown right into the mix, right into the danger of speaking to strangers.
King Shaka Airport, once we had landed, held the faint illusion of a highly westernised country. The air conditioning which actually worked, the stainless steel desks and polished floors, I could almost have been back in Gatwick. Yet ‘Africa’ awaited as the baggage conveyor belt kindly went kaput. Memories of being in Lagos’ main airport when the baggage disposal broke and vexed Nigerians began crawling behind the plastic screens to pull out their Ghana-must-go bags came to mind – only in ‘Africa.’
So, having landed safely, I say to Durban, Sawubona, Kumnandi ukuba lapha.