Aug 28, 2018

Knowing People

Assuming you are not working in airline industry, how much do you know about airports and the people that work there?

This question that I pose arises from my long and deep fascination with people. I don't know when it all started but all I know is that I always like observing people. Back then when I traveled Europe (this was years and years ago – ancient history for me), I spent memorable time watching people (both locals and tourists) as they go along with their day. I would pick a comfortable place to sit, preferably under the shade or in the comfort a cafĂ© provides, and I would just watch, sometimes for hours at people.

It is not like there is so much fun that could be had from watching them. It’s not even exciting. But I can’t help it but to feel fascinated by them all. Even the mundane stuff, like a laborer lifting boxes at a construction site, or a street hawker selling their brightly collection of souvenirs for the tourists, or people walking the length of the Charles bridge, families enjoying their durian at fruit stalls beside the road, couples sitting at the steps of the Spanish Steps, watching people waiting for the London tubes to arrive, kids playing in the calm Kanching creek, or the stoic and silent orange-and-blue guards of the Vatican. There are millions of people, all different and unique and it just somehow seems so fascinating to me.

And what place of all fascinating people that can be found if not in airports? I really, really love airports. I like the serenity of it. The echoed announcements and the out-worldly feelings that you get where people literally come and converge at one place from all over the world. The buzzes of people and the squeaky rolls of baggage on wheels being dragged across the floor. Of the emptiness of it when the clock strikes past midnight and the owl-eyed occupants left are the stranded and the delayed. The waiting of many and the arrival of the missed ones. 

The people that work there – aren’t you ever curious how their lives are? What stories and gossips they are having of the daily ins and outs of the airport? Of secret smoking rooms and hidden pathways. The arrest made by the Customs and the angry arguments sometimes heard at the Gates. I love how inclusive some type of places and their people can be. The Airline industry, the Corporate world, the Bars of Lawyers (no I don’t think they are described like that), the media people, or politicians in senate hearings – called me childish or weird but I have deep fascination with the people I could only imagine what other life could there be and how much different they are to mine.

I only know one life and that is of healthcare setting. I know hospitals, the healthcare personnel and the patients that come to the hospitals and clinics. I am familiar with the diseases and the treatment, the procedures and the interventions, the blood donations and the post-mortems. Working in ED brings out the best sense of inclusiveness in terms of excellent teamwork and good sportsmanship or camaraderie. I like it when the MOs thanked me for my work every time I left work for the day. I feel like I belong, that I matter, that what I do helps, and that is important for me to know and understand. I know the significance of what we do and what public health should strive for. This is my circle.

And I could only imagine what other people from other circles with completely different lives wonder about what my colleagues and I do for a living. Do they know the struggle of working for the benefit of complete strangers? The fear that we have when patients deteriorate or simply that we did missed something crucial? Of the missed trips to the loos or the mirth of joy we had when there’s a feast being held in some pantry? On the other hand, it is how I ache to know about their world. What interesting way of working and the types of stresses they endure? How do they dress? Where do they go before and after work? Do they keep talking about work outside work? Do they bring their work to home? Their pets and the peeves?

The best history for me is always about the people. More so than any old relics or ancient ruins. That’s why the best style of travel to me is to go to where the crowds are the most. Not the parties or concerts. Not the gathering of woke people or the protests in the streets. But good people. Boring people. Ordinary people living extraordinary lives. I am in love with the discipline of the study of human and human behavior for a very long time. Deep down, I am always fascinated with Anthropology. I like History. I like Science too, but oh how I wish I have the opportunity to be immersed and good at both. The way society works, the cultures that nurtured for centuries, of languages being spoken, their myriads of accents and dialects, and how they all are just cousins and siblings to one another.

And lastly, assuming you are curious about people and their lives like I do, about their circles and their values – how far would you go to get to know them all?

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