Rami Baitie writes...KLM and other things

Source: Rami Baitie | blog.ramitalks.com
Date: 4th-june-2018 Time:  5:59:07 pm

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I've been doing a bit of traveling recently and for no particular reason, I decided to share a couple of things with you, my adoring audience (okay, I'm not fully awake as I write this).

Do you know that there is a place outside Savannah in Georgia, USA, called Tybee Island? Well, I mention it because there is an establishment there called Atlantis Inn, and they have a big picture on the side of the building....a picture of a mermaid! A mermaid?? All I could think about was the reaction in Ghana to such a picture! Maame Water herself! On the side of a building!! Wouldn't that be the death of that business?? Eish! Mermaid paa!

On the way to Tybee Island we crossed over a bridge and on the side of the bridge, I saw a sign that said: No Jumping From Bridge. I suppose one could be tempted to assume that it referred to swimming and that one should not dive from the bridge. But, no, it is apparently an attempt to forestall those with suicidal tendencies who might want to visit the water permanently. How very sad indeed. I wondered if it helped in any way, having a sign like that. I guess anything that might stop an attempt at suicide is worth the effort.

I passed through Dulles Airport in Washington DC recently. I saw a porter there who I am certain I used in 2009, an Iraqi man. He was incredibly helpful back then and I never forgot his work....and the amount I tipped him! I am almost one hundred percent sure it was the same man (his looks have barely changed), and for some reason it just made me ponder life. I watched him going about his work and even though he had this permanent frown, he still seemed as helpful as ever. Almost nine years have passed since that day in 2009. Why on earth did I remember him?

I checked in at the KLM counter at Dulles and the person who attended to me was not very warm. I forgot to take the cover off my passport when I handed it to him, and he thrust it back at me rather aggressively, asking me to take it off. My passport resides comfortably in an Arsenal cover; I can only assume he was a Spurs fan! He redeemed himself when he forgave me the one kilogram I was over on my luggage; he said I shouldn't do it again! I almost responded with, "Yes sir!"

I was in the last seat on the aircraft, right at the back, and I chose that seat when I checked in online. I wanted to be able to recline my seat with no wahala from behind me. Unfortunately, I discovered that this seat also does not have a stowage bin above it, just a 'dummy' door. A very pleasant crew member tried to convince me that it contained a bunk for crew members, so they could sleep during flights and not disturb the passengers with snoring! He made me laugh, especially since he said this with a wicked straight face! I told him it wouldn't prevent him from hearing MY snoring!

It's the first time I've chosen a seat right at the back of an aircraft, and it got better when I realised that the two seats alongside me were empty for the flight. Oh baby! No one to use their elbow to push my arm off the armrest! Okay, so there are no visible windows on that row, but on the other hand, the crew are right behind you if you need them....and so is the toilet! You can also stand up and stretch more conveniently, a good thing on a long haul flight. Unfortunately, I also spent a fair bit of time directing other passengers to the loo as it was 'just around the corner'.

We were delayed at Dulles by thunderstorms, and the wind was so strong that at times the aircraft rocked while we were on the ground. That's a first for me as well. When we eventually began taxiing for takeoff (90 minutes late) the captain announced that the flight safety video wasn't working. What?! On a new Boeing 787 aircraft? It hardly inspires confidence when safety features on an aircraft cannot be viewed on a system that isn't working. What else isn't working?? But then, suddenly, the video began working.

I boarded hungrily and the meal served was not enough. I asked for an extra bread roll and the very pleasant steward gave me two! KLM is the Royal Dutch Airline: there should be more cheese on their menus! The very pleasant steward also informed me that I was one of the few people on-board who was not connecting in Amsterdam. As it turned out quite a few people missed their connecting flights. The weather is one way God shows us that if you want to make Him laugh, show Him your plans!

About halfway through the flight, a woman sitting in the row ahead of me asked if I would mind changing seats with her. She was with her 90-year-old mother who had a bad back or something, and she wanted to stretch out on MY precious empty seats. Horrors! I was settled, I was comfortable, my stomach was pleasantly full, I was just finishing Justice League and about to start Black Panther. Move from my seat?? I was not amused....but....how for do? I even managed to put a plastic smile on my face as I picked up my belongings and trudged grudgingly forward one row.

And you know what, at the end of the flight, the very pleasant steward said I was their Passenger of the Day! I didn't even know something like that existed! KLM! Wow! The very pleasant steward gave me a little paper bag with a little Dutch souvenir, a ceramic Dutch house. And it had Bols Gin in it!! I don't drink gin but I am saving that booze for a very special occasion! And there was a KLM postcard with a lovely message in the paper bag as well, a handwritten message I must emphasise! And yet all I gave the crew at the back of the aircraft was a small box of Godiva chocolate.

So why am I in the Netherlands? If you must know, and I insist that you do, I'm visiting a young man. A student, to be precise (apologies to Thompson and Thomson), representing Ghana in that little corner of the world (God help us all). We went grocery shopping by the way, and when I said, "Should we get some fruit?", he replied, "Yeah, some ice cream would be great." He makes a mean chicken pesto pasta, with lots of chilli, and lentils and broccoli on the side. Just so you know that he is not all about ice cream!

It was raining when we completed our grocery shopping and I have never enjoyed a walk in the rain as much. It was nice oh, but not romantic oh, I beg! I could have stayed in a hotel or an Air BnB or something, but being in student digs was so much more fun. The size of the toilet has to be seen to be believed! I had to hold my breath to fit into the cubicle, I swear my father!

The building in which he resides has a narrow appearance from the front, but it is like a maze inside. You need a compass, a protractor, GPS, and possibly an Uber, to navigate the steep stairs and find his room. It's very neat though, and if you don't mind shared loos and bathrooms it's actually very cool. A couple of times I heard someone playing a very smooth acoustic guitar from somewhere in the building, and tried not to imagine what was inspiring the performance.

Of course one of the advantages of staying in your child's student digs is that you get to see him in his natural environment, and therefore you see....maybe....things you shouldn't see. I'm not saying I saw anything oh! Just interesting watching your child at the next stage of his life. Meanwhile, I'm sure he was thinking in his head, "I wish this old geezer would hurry up and go! But he should leave his wallet....!" Strangely enough, there were no visitors over the period I was there. He had an explanation for that....but I wonder....were they warned to stay away?!

I had the misfortune of having a truly delicious doner kebab with him. But it was HUGE and I couldn't finish mine. He polished it off only the way a hungry student could...

By the by, sitting in the Netherlands writing this post, why am I listening to MzVee on YouTube? Did you know that when you type MzVee the spellcheck gives you Humvee? Just saying...

 

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