Friday, April 18, 2014

People Watching

Airports are the ultimate melting pot; where else do people from every continent and segment of society converge into a single location at the same time? I've said this before and was reminded of this during a recent lengthy stay in the Istanbul (Turkey) Airport. As a meeting point for flights heading north, south, east and west this airport is nothing short of huge with 45 million travelers passing through its concourses in 2012 alone. Perched on the cusp of Europe and Asia, flights connecting to all parts of the world pass through this busy airport that, in many respects, is a city unto itself. Because of all of this, the airport is also great places to observe people and the world sound us and that is just what I found myself doing.

With a single glance you can see traditional and modern, old and new, high end luxury and discount materialism co-mingling in a way that can only happen in an airport. First there are the people. Women shrouded in burkas and hijabs walk alongside those sporting skinny jeans and Lycra tank tops. Men in three piece business suits stand alongside those with low slung athletic pants and logo tee shirts. Business travelers with blackberries latched to their ears share the concourse with frazzled looking families and novice travelers who appear to be out of their element. Is it possible that all of these people are boarding the same flight? And then there are all of the other trappings. Louis Vuitton luggage shares conveyor belt space with plastic wrapped cardboard boxes. If shopping is your thing you can pick up a one dollar magnet or a thousand dollar (or more) handbag. Or you can spend your money on overpriced bottled water or surprisingly tasty gourmet food.

As any regular flyer knows, layovers are not necessarily fun but they are a part of the deal. So do what I do and make the best of it. Eat, drink, and be merry while you watch the world pass you by. After all, people watching makes for great entertainment and best of all, it is free.

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