Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Arrive arrive-o

I know that it's a cliché, but the thing about clichés (which, in itself, is a cliché) is that they become clichés by virtue of being true. However hackneyed it may be, it is hard to deny that there is something endlessly heart-warming about people-watching in airport arrivals halls.

The thing about airport arrivals is that peoples' emotions are to the fore. Partly it must be about reuniting people who have been separated, often by great physical distances. We can hear and see people on the other side of the planet, nowadays, but that doesn’t beat the touch of somebody we hold dear.

Another factor is that, deep down, most of us fear flying, however much we may know that it is statistically safe. The inherent problem with it, as an often-essential means of transport, is that it is such an obviously unnatural experience, over which you have absolutely no control. The discovery that either we, or our friends, family and loved ones have landed safely must release some pent up anxiety, which often, it seems to me, comes out in expressions of love.

Standing at the arrivals hall recently, I watched countless couples and families reuniting, and there wasn't a single grouping that didn't move me. My favourite was possibly the Spanish grandmother who was reunited with her grandson of about 18 months old. When she saw him, on emerging from the gate, her face lit up and she rushed over to the barrier where his father was holding him aloft. On reaching him, her face bright with love, she kissed her grandson again and again and again, changing from cheek to cheek, her eyes increasingly watery from tears of joy.

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