Do flight delays, passport control and duty-free shopping make for riveting reading? Officials at London’s Heathrow airport certainly think so and have, in fact, hired a writer-in-residence to set up his laptop in Terminal 5. His musings can be seen on a screen behind him and eventually his thoughts will be published as a book.
Now the Heathrow we know and don’t love is a nightmarish maze and not quite evocative of Claude Monet’s painting of Paris’s Gare Saint-Lazare that writer Alain de Boton would have us believe. But, if this trend catches on, we might soon have a writer at our own IGA wittering on about life in our terminals. It would be more exciting than that at Heathrow, we assure you.
First the writer would have to ensure that he does not get stampeded by our well-mannered passengers as they rush through immigration and towards the duty-free shelves. Then comes the reading on the screen behind the writer. Be sure, if the power supply is working, that at least a dozen argumentative Indians will challenge every word that the hapless writer will be producing. Boton’s romantic notion of airports as places where lovers are united will find a different take here.
Our beloved relatives from Bhatinda or Visakhapatnam, loaded with pickles and garlands, will be out in full force to see their loved ones off. In that melee of chachas, buas, bhatijas and assorted bachchas, it might get difficult to execute any romantic moves.
But the writer here could see how our VIPs dodge any checks with ease, pulverise the security personnel and get flunkeys to carry their bags. This could be a world trend-setter for other airports to follow. So Boton, dream on at Heathrow, we’ll take off before you even start taxiing.