I left Karachi for Nairobi one morning in late June, 5.45am. I spend my last hour spamming unsuspecting dead-asleep friends with text messages too awkwardly emotional to be delivered in person – I will miss you man, I admire you man, I love you man, in a heterosexual way, etc. Goodbyes, especially after a year, suck.
I touch down in Abu Dhabi at 7am’ish. I have a 2 hour layover, so I sit around watching the usual UAE airport suspects:
– Black women (they usually look Kenyan) wandering around in packs dressed like it’s snowing with shoals and headscarves. I know they are Kenyan because when we were younger, I assume we were all told how cold the airport is by our folks. I remember wearing my warmest jacket (upon demand) before getting into a hired van to ‘escort’ a cousin to America, a cousin who was never usually seen again before Facebook.
– Really young couples I usually assume are English or Belgian ( no particular reason) the girls are usually hot and mixed-race.
– Mysterious Arabs taking hits from their pipes (Midwakh) and walking around in pairs with their shades and Arafats. *Midwakh are used to smoke a drug legal I the UAE (dokha). It’s apparently tobacco with varying strengths. It’s a 10 second hit between lighting and inhaling and I once saw a newbee collapse for a minute after one hit…aiish.
Around 9.30, boarding time, I head towards my gate, but there are only 2/3 other people. So I make my way to the Etihad counter, ending up at the back of the 100 people ‘queue’. There really was no queue, whoever could shove their way to the front and get attention won. I’m not usually one to shout and jostle, usually I stand aside looking down on the masses, feeling mentally superior – a great ego boost. After a fe minutes, I gathered that the flight had been cancelled, and we had been booked on a plane leaving 24hours later.
Let’s be honest, I was not upset like most, I was pretty pleased with the prospect of 24hours in a 5-star hotel. Walking around the hotel lobby, in my regular old clothes, clothes that in the midst of 5-star opulence, would to the observer go from the old and rugged look to the rugged by design look ie the way you can tell old jeans from jeans bought from Levi looking like that. So I am a BIMBO sometimes.
I imagined ordering dinner, confidently knowing it was on Etihad’s tab, and subsequently embarrassed from not leaving s tip (personal weakness even when undeserved). I imagined meeting a fellow lone female traveller (preferably white, brunette, rugged-yet-clean and feminine :-p, attractive, funny or more importantly finds me funny, not embarrassing in case I ever have to invite her home. My wish lists are usually very specific.
As I handed over my passport for my hotel booking, I amused myself further, imagining regaling this woman with few travel tales old from different angles and points allowing just one story to last a whole evening, getting her to throw her head back heartily in laughter, showing off her tongue ring ( another personal weakness.)
As I zoned off in my imagination, I was jolted back to reality by the Etihad guys telling me I couldn’t get into the UAE without a VISA. Damn! Tha means no 5-star hotel I though, as another attendant explained to an elderly suspiciously norwegian couple that their ‘limo’ was waiting to take them to their hotel. He kept repeating the word limo. Oh, but there’s an airport hotel, so I don’t need a VISA for that, maybe I can still meet the brunette, but NEVER! Etihad again tells me that the airport hotel is full, so just wait around for the 24hours, here’s a meal voucher, be strong, kaa ngumu. WTF. I ask them if they to put me up in their VIP lounge, and they simply said NO! Please boycott Etihad Airways for poor service and customer management? Later in an email to them, I promised I would blog about it using threatening words such as social media, complaint on travel forums, matako and mavi ya kuku etc. I also said readers on this blog are a global audience. Hehe, one day I’ll tell you about the stats on this blog.
Anyway, I wasn’t alone off course. There were the usual ‘wrong’ passport people, Indians, fellow Kenyans, Pakistanis and numerous Chinese with superb English (LOL). After a 2 minute conversation, one of the Indian guys later asked me if I am a virgin…I don’t know where these sons-of-Bombay get the curry to ask such questions. Instead of a hot brunette, i met an Indian who was now interrogating me on what chances he stood of engaging in consensual coitus in Kenya… Thanks fate. I had nothing better to do, than continue to stand at the Etihad counter giving the manager my worst death-stare.
Out of nowhere, this tiny older (40 plus) woman approaches me. She has a really coarse voice and an American accent. I stare at her crazy red hair as she tells me to calm down, that my stares and complaints are getting me nowhere. She obviously has never heard of or experienced Jere’s-stare-of-a-thousand-deaths, otherwise she’d be dead…duh. She has an Egyptian hieroglyphics tattoo at the back of her neck, ripped jeans and an old leather jacket. I dismiss her as a crazy-type backpacker, and try to ignore her but she just won’t stop talking.
She tells me the manager is just doing his job (…?) and generally keeps up an irritating monologue until I’m forced to listen to her, and that’s when I noticed her extremely large breasts. There was no less crude way of saying that.