Friday, October 17, 2003

Schiphol (and misconceptions)
Eldest and I were on the train on our way back from somewhere or other, when the train made a stop at Schiphol Airport and filled up with people with suitcases. The seats across from us filled up with big Americans. I might point out that, being rather small, everyone seemed enormous to me in Holland. The ethnic Dutch were real giants. Luckily there were so many non-ethnic Dutch (I hope this is not a very un-PC thing to say, but how else can I call them?) I didn't feel completely dwarfish. I eavesdropped shamelessly to the Americans' conversation with a Dutchman who was sitting with them, and to the conversation that their colleagues, sitting behind me, were having with a woman, who turned out to be Israeli. They were from Florida and they were on a one-night stopover on their way to... Israel! Eldest and I were flabbergasted. They had flown all this way to such a beautiful city and they weren't stopping. They were continuing straight on to Israel (Were they completely mad?!). I thought they must be reporters or something, but no. They planned to rent a car and head up to the Galilee. Wonders never cease.

* * * *

Waiting to board our El Al flight to Tel Aviv from Schiphol Airport, after the last security checks, a young couple sat down opposite Eldest and I, a man and a woman. The man seemed Middle Eastern, he could have been Jewish or Arab, I couldn't tell. He had one of those weird little, strangely shaped beards young men seem to sport these days (Don’t ask me why. They must think it makes them look attractive or something). The woman looked Dutch. They shared one piece of hand luggage. I was immediately curious about them because from the moment they sat down they seemed extremely tense, even hostile. Then I noticed that they weren’t talking to each other. In fact, they didn't exchange a word for the fifteen minutes we were sitting there.

The suspicious thoughts started racing. The first suspicious thought was that they were ISM-ers forced for some reason to fly El Al and feeling decidedly hostile about the wicked Israeli families around them, especially those most dangerous colonizing Israeli babies. The second suspicious thought was straight out of an Entebbe Rescue movie. She was Baader-Meinhof and he was PLO and they would take over the plane once it was airborne. I wondered should I alert security. I commenced piercing them with my fiercest glare, so they would know I was on to them, and they wouldn't dare try anything. They didn't seem very intimidated by this. Well, it used to work on perverts on crowded buses when I was in my teens. I must be losing my touch.

Then it dawned on me. Pure speculation, of course, but far more likely: They were on their way to Israel to meet his parents and, being tense about this, they had had a big row.

I still decided to keep an eye on them during the flight, just in case. Unfortunately, I wasn't seated anywhere near them and only saw them again in Ben Gurion Airport at the place you get your suitcases. I was busy worrying how I would be able to schlep our suitcase (which, strangely, was now far heavier than on the way out to Holland) off the conveyor belt without swinging it at someone and causing grievous bodily harm. Even though I was thus preoccupied and continuously warning Eldest to keep away from me because I was all psyched up to fully implement my meager muscle power for the serious mission I was facing, and therefore dangerous, I happened to notice the man right on the other side of the conveyor belt. He was chatting and laughing excitedly with someone I couldn't see, probably the woman. All the tension had disappeared from his face.

Ah, that's nice, I thought, they must have kissed and made up during the flight.

Or maybe he was just nervous of flying, like Bish, and now he was relieved that his ordeal was over.