The Bond, James Bond Attitude
Everyone's speaking German because I'm in Frankfurt. It's 5:30 A.M. and I managed to catch a couple hours Z's on the plane. That should hold me until I reach Chennai. If I manage to stay awake for the entire flight to India, I should arrive tired enough to sleep and it will be nighttime there and the right time to sleep. We'll see how it goes, if this works I won't be suffering from jet lag.
Most of the airport shops haven't opened but there's a nice coffee shop serving breakfast. It's quiet and the airport isn't crowded. It's fairly easy to figure out where to go even when you don't know the language because it's like being in a river, a river of people... you just flow with the stream of people off the plane and you wind up in the right place.
If you ever get snagged on something and "lose the herd" (excuse me for mixing metaphors) you can always follow the signs printed in confusing English or ask someone who usually speaks even more confusing English. But being a Veteran Traveler, you don't want to have to resort to that. You want to act like you've been here a dozen times and it's all a bore... "What's your name? Bond... James Bond..." that sort of attitude.
There are a lot of people without the James Bond attitude. They wander around with a strained expression that I practice not expressing: "Where am I supposed to go next?! What's the drill? Do I look like a fool? Am I doing something stupid?" I know it's paranoia and I try to fight it by realizing we all feel it, even the ones who are acting like they're Bond, James Bond.
One thing I'm grateful for whenever I travel: Cappuccino! No matter where you go on the planet these days (the civilized parts) you can usually get a decent cup of Cappuccino. I've had Cappuccino's in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany and I'll bet it's good in India too. It's good for a traveler to have something he can count on.
Everything's So Different In Just The Same Way
Whenever I go anywhere like this, I feel inundated with newness. The first day or two the feeling is intense. Everything is essentially the same from one airport or hotel to the other yet it's all slightly different too, just enough to make it hard to be Bond, James Bond.
The differences all conspire to make you feel uneasy and far away from home. All the little things you need to make life work are there but they're implemented differently. There's the newness. You walk up to a drinking fountain and there's a brief intelligence test: How Does This One Work? The door to the stall in the bathroom doesn't latch the way you'd expect. The water, soap and paper towel dispensers all work but not like how you're used to. Even the chairs you're sitting in are of a style you've never seen before. Prices of things are a real intelligence test: Am I getting ripped off? See what I mean?
But this is one of the reasons I like to travel. I like to feel this uncomfortable feeling of a fish out of water. Just for a while. It sharpens my senses, stretches my mind and makes me appreciate my home. I enjoy the perspective it gives me. You should see yourself from here.