Last night I spent my second night at Dubai International Airport (DXB); not consecutive, thank goodness. The first time I spent a night here was slightly over a year ago when, stranded as a result of booking issues, I found myself having to spend an unforeseen 24 hours, midnight to midnight, at the famed DXB. After I got over the frustration and freezing temperatures – it being my first time out of the warm tropics – I had found the airport not such a bad place for an enthusiastic shopper, or window-shopper in my case.
It goes without saying that with bed time came a new dance, the search for an unoccupied long lounge chair in which to stretch and simulate a bed as best as one can. Almost all of them were occupied, obviously. In such cases my beloved height puts me at a disadvantage. Shorter people can curl up anywhere, their not so short counterparts cannot. Anyway, this time around, I had a slight advantage; I knew where all the fore mentioned much sought after chairs were, thanks to my desperate hunt a year back. I also knew which areas are more dimly lit, for a good sleep. And sleep I did; better than I had expected.
The one thing that always surprises me when I travel is how easily I recognise my country mates and vice versa. It’s almost like we can sniff each other out. I approach a help desk, oceans and miles away from home, and I can immediately tell even before this person says a word that I’ll be speaking Luganda with the person behind that desk. And, as soon as the other party sees me behind several people in line, like me, they start smiling, even though we are strangers and haven’t even said a word to each other yet. The first thing they ask is ‘are you from Uganda?’ and it’s such an unnecessary question ’cause each of us knew the answer even before the question was asked. I always wonder if this happens to people of other nationalities as well. Do they recognise each other ? And I know it’s not just about the skin colour, there are other Africans I can’t tell apart unless they give themselves away by their speech and accents or dress. I can’t for instance point out a Ghanaian or a Congolese unless they speak first, whereas I can point out a Ugandan, Kenyan or Rwandese even before they speak. Kenya and Rwanda border Uganda. Well, with the latter it’s quite easy, they’ve got rather standard physical attributes, the former have none I can point out specifically yet I can still with some certainty differentiate them from Ugandans even before they speak. However, I cannot with as much ease point out a Tanzanian, yet Tanzania borders Uganda too. It’s starts to get a bit confusing on analysis. Anyway, it’s always a good feeling to meet someone from home when one is so far away from home.
Just in time, my boarding gate has now been opened, and I should be getting on the flight to Heathrow, bringing to an end this post. See, or rather read/ hear from you later. And by the way, when you travel, can you spot out a fellow countryman/woman of yours at a glance, even before you’ve heard their accents? How do you do so, if at all?