2019: One Hundred and Eighty Six

I’m writing this from Terminal 1 of the Dubai International Airport.

I don’t really have a backstory to give you about this place. I usually departed and arrived into Terminal 2 of the Airport when I flew to and from India. All I really remembered of Terminal 1 was that it was for the markets that weren’t as in demand as the other routes. But offlate, Terminal 1 has become home. That’s largely facilitated by the fact that they’ve completed a massive revamp of the place, while retaining a lot of the old architectural elements – including a footbridge, that on the exterior, looks the exact same as it did back in 2001 (which is where my first real memories of Terminal 1 kick-in). It’s become home because I’m familiar with it. And traveling out of Terminal 1 doesn’t feel like too much of a downgrade from Terminal 3 – as it used to in the past.

I’m flying off to Switzerland alone today. It’s my first solo trip to another continent – I’ve usually just flown alone in Asia. It’s a trip I am equal parts excited, and equal parts nervous about. There’s a lot of excitement because of the opportunity this presents, as I’ll be working with an organization I’ve admired for several years, in the company of individuals I’ve begun to admire over the last few years. There’s nervous energy, not because of the fear of doing something incorrectly, but rather at the possibility of not utilizing this time to the fullest. I don’t see that being an issue, so it’s not something I’m fretting too much about.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be dozing off in the south of France. I didn’t think I’d ever say that sentence. It sounds like a dream, honestly – especially that I’ve studied French. I’m looking forward to speaking the language everyday. All those years of figuring out how to pronounce the accents properly, all the tense correction exercises – hopefully they’ll pay off.

Today though, I don’t think it could’ve gone any better. It’s the most relaxed I’ve been before a flight. Everything was packed, barring the food items – which my mom expertly prepped and kept ready. My dad helped me rearrange stuff. I took decisions quickly. I chilled on my laptop. Dad and I watched cricket. It was a really pleasant day. My favourite part of the day was at the airport. I know my parents are proud of me. They tell me that frequently enough. But today, I saw something that meant so much more. I was walking toward the check-in area for SwissAir (it’s my first time flying), and I sort of left my handbag with them, to keep, while I checked-in. The check-in queue had the queue management tapes on, and there wasn’t really much space ahead. While I meandered through that, I looked back at my parents because I wanted to see if they were following me or not, and I saw my dad squeeze my mum in a semi-hug, both of them with the largest smiles I’ve seen in a while.

They had traveled around various parts of Europe: individually, and together. We did some parts as a family, me included. Except I have very, very faint memories of that. Their trips individually took them to the Netherlands, to France, and to Belgium – among several other countries. As a couple, I know they’ve been to Italy (I can still taste limoncello chocolates from Capri), and I’m sure they’ve been other places too.

I think it really hit them that I was going to experience that now. And create my own memories in those very same places.

That look they shared was something I really want to frame someday.

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