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Friday, 15 July 2016

Transitions in Transit

Jakarta Airport, July 2016

I write today from Jakarta Airport, having lost half a day in time-travel. As I flew east, I moved forwards in time as well as distance. How strange that the Euro-centric view of the East has been that Asia and the so-called ‘third world’ is backwards, behind, when we Europeans read from left to right, horizontally along a page. The journey from West to East mimics our sense of the rise to the right-hand side as making progress. Paradoxically, the docks allowing entrance from the East to the West have historically been the poorer areas in cities, the conflux of docking sailors brewing licentiousness, encouraging prostitution, leading to miscegenation. Mixing and blurring of boundaries and cultures has always led the way for progress, development, and new ideas; perhaps that is why it has equally been monitored, scrutinised, and regulated.

By the time I arrive at my destination, after more lost hours spent in travelling, waiting, delays, and airport connections, I will have been in transit for more than twenty-four hours. During that time, I have turned twenty-five. In some ways I’ve been awaiting this moment for over a decade, when I first watched Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane squeak onscreen: ‘Twenty-five, that’s a quarter of a century. Makes a girl think!’ My birthday falls on the anniversary of Bastille Day, the French Revolution. 2016 has been a tumultuous year in world events; not a week goes by without some tragedy or coup around this wide world. We are not truly safe anywhere: on local streets, at restaurants, in clubs, on trains, planes, workplaces and place of worship. The answer is not to stay at home: conversely, we must keep on going out, meeting people, living fulfilling lives. It’s an oft-repeated truth that the only thing that we can be sure of in life is our death. During my twenty-four hours, I have been more aware than ever of my privilege, and thankful for my safety. Truthfully, it is impossible to predict what will happen next. Living isolated in Scandinavia for the first half of this year demonstrated to me more fully than ever before how important it is to nurture connections with family and friends, and not to take loved ones for granted. Be sensible, but don’t have regrets: this has been my motto in recent years, and is more pertinent than ever.

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