Aside from the travails, I usually enjoy flying, Even the airport waits (up to a point) have an appeal. It’s the babel of languages and the array of faces and families and groups from so many places, and, mostly, the feeling of anticipation, not just my own but the collective anticipation of people going places, for all the different reasons they are.
En route, the airports you pass through are more similar to each other than to the locations they are in, giving a flavor of where you “are” mostly by virtue of the local souveniers they sell. Even so, I enjoy noticing even the subtle differences.
So, here I am, in limbo, between Boston and “Paris” looking out the window at dark sky and bright moon, enjoying my cognac as I write. And anticipating my Israeli sojourn.
Now aboard the Paris –Tel Aviv flight, which is still boarding. The four hours at CDG have passed fairly quickly, as I slept through half of them in a very comfortable lounge chair. These are very modernistic orange and brown chairs that I have seen but not used before, perhaps at De Gaulle, perhaps elsewhere. At first I was the only person in the lounge, when I awake most of the other chairs are occupied, and people are starting to gather by the gate.
I am struck by the diversity of the people awaiting the plane. There are orthodox Jews, quite a lot of them, most of them, the women and the men, are dovening and praying. Then there are others wearing yarmalkas, without which I would not necessarily identify them as Jews. Others are of indeterminate religion and/or nationality. Some are clearly identifiable as Americans, even before I hear them speak. Others are speaking French. I don’t see anyone I would clearly identify as Muslim. But is it easy, for a foreigner, or for an Israeli, to identify someone as Jewish or Muslim by sight alone?
Near the gate is a sign for a meditation space. Intrigued, when I first arrive, I follow the sign, which has an icon of someone in a yoga pose. There’s a door with a sign, which I push open, and turn on the light. I suppose other airports have similar spaces, but I don’t remember ever noticing one before. The room is empty, not surprising because the terminal is virtually empty.
Inside there is a sign that says prayer rugs are available, please put them back if used, And two rooms. The first one says, “for Christian and Jewish” has two rows of chairs facing each other, and a table with a bible and some other religious pamphlets.
The second room says, “for Muslims” and has just one row of seats and more floor space. And a closet where I assume the prayer rugs are. Both rooms seem quite uninviting, And you would need to walk thru the Jewish/Christian space to get to the Muslim. There is no sign of a space where someone might do yoga or meditate. Perhaps there are yoga mats in with the prayer rugs? I wonder what kinds of prayer spaces might be available at the Tel Aviv airport.
Later, I wonder if there are people using the space, but feel uncomfortable going to see. The orthodox Jews in the lounge, at any rate, don’t seem at all uncomfortable about praying in public.
We are about to depart. I have no euros and nothing was open anyway when I came through the terminal at 6am. My stomach is grumbling, but I am happy. I hope they serve breakfast soon. I am hoping for croissants. Au revoir Paris. On to Tel Aviv, and then Jerusalem.