Having stopped the explosive activity in my GI tract with horse pills, I was able to travel in peace from Karachi to Dubai to Amsterdam where I took my allowable rest stop.

I left Sheraton land for the airport earlier than the bell captain suggested, not wanting to add stress to my exit from Pakistan. I learned soon enough there was another reason to leave speedily: the young chief of one of the more active Al Qaida parties was mowed down by a drone in the northern region of Waziristan. This news was conveyed to me through a whole bank of newspapers neatly displayed in the airport lounge where I wiled away these extra hours before boarding time.

The lounge was the only one that ordinary mortals could join temporarily for small change, rather than requiring high bank or miles account balances. I was a cheap client, drinking only tea and coca cola.

The trip to Dubai was smooth and short, the trip to Amsterdam long and bumpy and the long walk between terminal 3 and 1 in Dubai endless and painful. Both flights had all seats filled, may be not surprising for a weekend flight.

In Amsterdam I arrived before 7 AM and, reluctant to call my hosts on a Sunday morning before 7 AM, I placed myself across from the opaque arrival doors at an airport café and watch family and friends cheer and cry as long or short lost relatives and friends appeared from behind the doors. At that hour of the day all the long haul flights come in from Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is wonderful to watch this reunion business. A large red machine next to the door allows one to print welcome home banners for a price, adding to the festivities.

I arrived in Holland in weather than can be seen or inferred from the Dutch masters, heavy and fast moving clouds, rain and a stiff wind. For the Dutch no reason to stay indoors–the large lake across S’s house was full of windsurfers racing at tremendous speeds across the lake. It is one way of making lemonade out of lemons – at least for a certain subset of the Dutch population.

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November 2013
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