May 19, 2015
I was wearing a neck brace (thanks to a recently acquired herniated disc), baggy clothes several sizes too large (erring on the side of caution in Islamic countries) and carrying an arsenal of pain medications including prescription narcotics. I could have made a healthy living peddling medicines in any part of the world. Unable to carry it, I had strapped my backpack to a luggage cart. I was no doubt the envy of any self-respecting baglady as I arrived at the airport. I fully expected the TSA to chime in with a “Step this way please ma’am”. But all went well. There is a fine line between appearing disreputable enough to raise suspicion and looking odd enough to elicit pity. ‘Tis is a delicate balance usually requiring years of practice.
My usual bad plane karma held up in the first leg and predictably I had squalling, screaming children within two feet of me in every direction. It was a long flight from JFK to Cairo. But this was offset by the next two legs. From Cairo to Istanbul, I sat next to a man who was on his way to visit family in Istanbul. We had a pleasant time chatting about his job at the UN and if I were to visit Cairo again, he insists that I stay with his family. The leg from Istanbul to Almaty was just as pleasant. I met a young man, a part of the group of Turkish architects on their way to Almaty for a project. In true turkish tradition, he extended an invitation to his the next timeI visit Istanbul. What a great start for this trip!