I am on a trip to Bangkok, to check in with Miss Mason and see how the wedding preparations are coming on. Checking in at Heathrow, there is no queue but the people in front of me have an inconsolable baby who screams in real distress for what seems ages. Of course, this child is seated directly in front of me when we board and, yes, it screams pretty much all the way to Oman where we change planes. It must be horrible travelling with very small children so I don’t feel it is anyone’s fault but I would like to point out I am a magnet for small, screaming children on aircraft. Never sit near me. The passage through Muscat airport is easy enough. As we go through a security check which insists our lotions and potions are displayed in clear plastic, I discover a bottle of Coke which has mysteriously made its way through security unharmed and, indeed, undetected. The woman checking us through says our flights are at the gate and that we should all hurry. We all duly hurry only to be met by another man who insists we are not allowed down the stairs to any of the gates and tells everyone to ‘wait here’, waving his arm expansively. I go and sit by some Arab women, asking one if I may sit by her. She pats the seat and I sit, only for her to start asking me questions in a language I not only don’t understand but can’t identify. She has a lovely face and asks her questions so nicely only to be met with me grinning inanely. She does the tried-and-tested English method of asking her questions more slowly and a bit louder but it has no effect. We smile, because that’s the only language we share. A short while later, the man controlling the escalator down is side-tracked by someone asking a complicated question. I wonder if other travellers have conspired in this ruse because he is drawn away from his post and hordes of people pour down the stairs, myself included. My Arab friend calls after me, saying “Have a good trip” or possibly “Up yer bum”.
Havind made it to the elusive ground floor, I find myself a chair and sit like I am glued to it. More people come down and then, suddenly in our midst is the Guardian of the Stairs. He is apoplectic that we have let ourselves through his grasp and shouts really loudly at people to go back upstairs. I am sitting pretending I don’t know what is going on (which I am naturally very good at) and so I stay put. There is a flight to Calcutta leaving shortly and the people queueing for that flight get very short shrift from him. Of course, sitting at the gate is a man in full Arab clothing with a small, screaming child. This time they are seated behind me. I am eyeing up the seats across the aisle from me when they are occupied by a group of men including a dwarf. Given Miss Mason’s passion for dwarves this is good positioning but this dwarf is rude and surly, drinking himself into a mild state of chaos and being rude to the air crew. He is jumping on the seats and throwing things about. At some point the dwarf and his companions are drawn into conversation by the man sitting in my row. He is on his way for a holiday in Bangkok and they tell him they are oil workers. I find myself wondering what work a dwarf would do on a rig. It’s not a sizeist thing but I suppose there are lots of jobs, really. Maybe he’s in IT or something. Anyway, he’s a very rude dwarf.
We get off and head to immigration where we have to wait for some time. I have smugly filled in my visa application whilst on the plane but I still have to wait ages. Eventually I am through and retrieve my bag which seems to weigh a ton. I had a mild fit when I weighed the bag at home. The airline allows 30kg of baggage which is really good and I had offered to bring Miss Mason’s wedding dress amongst other things. Oh, and a huge amount of Cadbury’s, for Mr Safaie. When I weigh it at home, it seems to weigh nearly 60 kg and I am in a bit of a panic. After a bit of scrambling around, though, I realise the scales weigh pounds and kilos and that I have been reading the wrong number. Equilibrium and sanity restored. After coming through Customs, I look for Miss Mason’s dear little face but it is nowhere to be seen. Having checked my phone would be able to roam, I am rather frustrated to find it will neither text nor call. After some minutes, I decide to walk down through the airport to the meeting point but before I get there I see there is another gate for people to come through and she is waiting there for me. Relief. And a lovely sight.