The lost joys of air travel
TIME was when it was better to journey hopefully than to arrive. Journeys by air were a pleasure, besides being glamorous, though in many ways it could never overcome the earthly joys of travelling by train. The very thought of taking a flight caused a thrill and being seen off at departure and received on arrival were events which were no less looked forward to. Now, in a terror-stricken world, a chill has replaced the thrill of air travel and getting on to a plane, surviving the flight and landing in good shape is a prospect that promises more pain than pleasure.
Even before terror struck and embedded the 9/11 and 7/11 syndromes in our psyche, air travel had begun losing its charm. The lengthy queues for check-in, the longer hours needed to negotiate through security, immigration, baggage checks et, al, left one exhausted and the passenger was weary even before the flight took off. He simply flopped in his seat and hoped he would not be disturbed until he landed at his destination. Gone were the little kicks of looking forward to a drink and, in the years past, a smoke so high up in the sky. After the latest plot uncovered in London, transparency has literally been stretched to its limits. Every item carried in hand, and not checked in, must be in checkable condition and carried in see-through plastic bags.
Such security is too opaque for comprehension, clarifying only the tension in store for a flyer. Travel only if you must is the new mantra. You are better off on the ground and at home. One recalls the legend of Alexander (the Great) pleading with the wise Diogenes to accompany him on his world-conquering mission. Diogenes scorns the idea, saying he doesn?t need to set out to see and conquer the world, whereas Alexander even if he were to succeed will neither enjoy the fruits of it nor return home. Prophetic, but also instructive that the past makes more sense than the unfolding future, at least of air travel.