*ding-dong* “Attention, all passengers” breached the voice from the public address system, perforating the calm that seemed to have lulled itself into the travel lounge, bidding everyone to lean forward as it continued, ”traveling via Oman Air to Muscat, please proceed for immigration and clearance check” *ding*. Even before the closing chime liberated from the system, there was a scramble of shoes and luggage among the passengers as everyone boarding for Muscat went gushing forth towards the Immigration counters.
Dennis sat cross legged on one of the multitudes of metallic reclining chairs complete with cushioning, sprawled in rows of two across the lounge. The announcement seemed to have had hardly any effect on him. Perhaps the countless hours of flying and the colligated amount of time spent in such passenger lounges seemed to have honed his discernment abilities, his brain had learned to filter out what was relevant and ignore what wasn’t, which also included such announcements. Dennis had been in Dubai as part of a business meeting for almost a week and now anxious to make it to California at the earliest. Back home His father lay on his death-bed as his only son, sat waiting in an airport lounge half way across the planet. His mind seems occupied and thoughts of any emotion were obscured in his intense glare at a copy of the month’s Fortune 500 magazine.
The many display screens studded across the lounge, that have been lying idle, suddenly broadcasted with life as they start displaying offers at the duty-free shops and the life in the Arabian sands, which was anything but sands by the way. The tallest building in the world, rows of shopping complexes, avenues of posh residential plots and dazzlingly display of lights on the highway, Dubai was an alien world in this harsh environment where until a few decades ago the inhabitants were nomads shifting residence with the dunes that still continue to sculpt the outskirts. Another feminine voice broke the hush once again but this time in the local dialect “Sabah al kheyr, wa, ahlann wa sahlann bekum fee ma’taar ’Dubai’e at’dou’lee” and went on to describe the joys of the Arabian nights all of which swept around Dennis’ radar of discernment, which even if was picked up would still be interpreted as Latin or Greek.
Dennis distracted a bit by this alien speech looked up from his assiduousness, ‘ah the sound of the middle-east’ he thought to himself. He had almost got used to this alien form of communication, where the speakers spoke words which came from the depths of the esophagus after a seeming battle of the titans in the throat and came out with the depth and rawness of the crude oil itself that lay under these sands. But for all this roughness in their language, the people were a very welcoming and traditionally defined group. The enticements of the duty-free did not enchant Dennis this time. He went back to gazing at the magazine in no time.
Another announcement came through “A’rakab al’Musafireen… mmotajiheen sawba A’thayyarann al’Amreeke’ei.. rakkam Wahad, Arba’a, Ithna’in…. min faddlika ithija’ah…” and then translated itself into its English equivalent “all passengers travelling to New York via flight AA142, kindly proceed for Immigration and clearance check” This time however it caught Dennis’ attention and seemed to hold it for some more time. Closing the magazine and tossing it aside, he gathers his coat and brief case and in a smooth motions heads to the immigration counter.