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Transit

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 25 July 2009 | Views [511]

The last stage in any journey is, typically, transit. A day spent, or lost, in the maze of airport security queues, check-in counters and passenger lounges. Some of which were curiously free of clocks. As if the no-time of international flight began here, on the ground, well below the clouds.

There are many who dislike flying. I am not one of them. Not even now, after 18 flights in five months, across all continents, seas and oceans. It is for me a time outside of time, suspended in a thin metal tube. Non-descript meals and the slow passage of the earth far below.

A break from the endless decision making of travel, the absorption of all that is so endlessly new.

Instead you have interiors in industrial beige, movies and meals alike modified for content and taste, and the white noise of jet engines to make conversation less likely. A friend, flying north from Santiago in the week following the Air France loss remarked to his fellow passenger [as he inserted earplugs against the noise] 'I don't like water to get in my ears'.

Sometimes you see another plane, miles off and visible only by the white streaks of its exhaust, but more often than not it is you alone. On this last flight we were chasing the sun west. We could not win – the earth spins much faster than any passenger plane can fly – but the dusk was long, the slow colouring of sky through pink to grey and black.

I look between the window and my screen, where some or other Hollywood star is paused, suspended by an announcement from the cabin, as we are all here suspended, above the earth, above the clouds, below the first twinkle of stars.

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