“You sure you still want to come?”. My cousin’s message stared up at me from the cellphone I’d placed next to my suitcase.
As I continued my last minute packing, an angel and devil on shoulder exchange was in full swing. “Dude, you paid twice for a visa. Do you really want to back out now? Oh and let’s not forget the ticket” “Yeah, but is money really more important than life… than family?”
Right on cue, my 22-month old waddled into the room, climbed on to the bed and asked, “Daddy, where are you going?”. There’s no greater pride, I think, than hearing your offspring spew coherent chains of text forming meaningful sentences.
There’s also nothing quite like having these chains of text intricately wrap themselves around your conscience. I swallowed hard as I reached for the phone and told my cousin I would stay the course.
In the living room, the man on the television was announcing the latest results; Donald Trump was in the lead.
The ride to the airport was nothing out of the ordinary. The occasional start-stop-swerve-the-pothole routine because of Entebbe’s traffic did nothing to sway the anxiety and the noisy presenter on the radio wasn’t helpful either. “This year has been the year of the under-dog” he began, “people who had no chance, have emerged victorious…”. Sure, tell that to the leader of Uganda’s opposition party.
The airport was undergoing some ‘maintenance’ work which essentially means one could not just waltz into the departure lounge without having to endure some sort of theatrics. If I sound less than enthusiastic, it’s because I am. . . .and I’m not the only one. The sniffer dogs looked like they’d have preferred to be running through fields and into the paws of their significant others.
My daughter was a trooper. Her eyes welled up for a few seconds before she snapped back to her chirpy mode and waved goodbye, triggering my own set of waterworks. In hindsight, I should have recorded the moment so that the next time I’m asked whether I have ties to Uganda I can just play that scene back for the gentleman interviewing me instead of stumbling through my life history and lugging about an envelope with DNA test results, land titles and pictures showcasing moments of intimacy.
The lady at the ticketing desk smiled sweetly as I approached her, no doubt because everyone just digs a man that is not afraid to get in touch with his soft side.
I was wrong.
“You know, you can get an upgrade if you pay a little more money…”. I’ve watched a shit load of movies and series where people just get bumped up a class, so that’s always been my “upgrade strategy”- generally hang in there and things will align. At least that was my thinking. My ego on the other hand figured to kick in to hyper-drive to do damage control. If they had seen my eyes sweating, then to remedy the situation, I would have to flash some dollars about. Before I knew what was happening, my mouth had inquired as to what sort of upgrades were available and, in concert with my hand and wallet, had bought me extra leg room. Fantastic.
In case you are more inclined to moving about by land, and why not, extra legroom on a plane comes in two forms; either you sit at the front of the plane (essentially within the pilot’s earshot) or you sit at the emergency exit. And you will know you are sitting at the emergency exit because the pilot will tell you, the stewardess will also tell you and the BIG RED LETTERS right next to you will practically scream, “EMERGENCY”.
The flight to Abu Dhabi gave me this hallowed seat, but on the plus side, I got to look outside the window like one of those thoughtful people you see on the covers of cheap tacky novels… or success cards. The game of, “Which country are we flying over” got tiring really fast, and I had to make do with the in-flight entertainment.
Abu Dhabi by night looks really nice from up above and I still feel like shit for switching off my phone to ‘conserve’ the battery. I’m pretty sure I could have got some pretty cool pictures, but hey, at least I was able to call back home and let the family know I had arrived safely.
Then I promptly run out of phone credit.