On The Plane (2)

August 13, 2014 § Leave a comment


If it seems that most travelogues on this blog are about places in Greece or Germany, it’s because they *are*. The reasons: work, kid, money; sometimes in that order, sometimes in another. And as some of you know, the fact that I was born in Greece and my parents are still there while I’ve been living in Germany for almost twenty-three years makes both countries in some ways home — which raises the issue of whether I’m allowed to fool you by calling these posts travelogues at all. Surely one expects more exotic variety under such labels.

Although both places are home for me, they are, nevertheless and simultaneously, also foreign and unknown because I travel to and fro between these ports while being the transporting boat myself. So my travelogues are probably more about this aging, changing boat…but I guess you knew that.

On the plane to Athens last Saturday, this boat met its younger self in the body of Hanif Kureishi’s doppelgänger. Too complicated? Not at all — these things can happen on the road. The man who took the aisle seat in my row (next to me and my excited, always bubbling son) looked like the Hanif Kureishi I knew from ’80s press photos: Well-built but shorter than I, with shoulder-length brown hair, those intense brown eyes, thick eyebrows meeting above, a thin faint smile, and showing no teeth or visible neck (sorry, Hanif).


I couldn’t stop staring at him, and after he took notice, he stared back, although we didn’t exchange a single word during the entire three-hour flight. I think he was Greek but I can’t be sure because I couldn’t clearly hear which language he spoke to the flight attendants. The photo I’m displaying here doesn’t of course show his resemblance to Kureishi; I took a better one but that would infringe on the man’s privacy, and it’s not important anyway which picture takes us somewhere. It’s the somewhere it takes us that one has to think about.

The sight of the younger Kureishi transported me back to the mid-eighties when I watched “My Beautiful Laundrette”; took me back to my younger soul breaking out from its little village, first mentally and then literally, into the wide world. The room to which this forty-something woman returns to spend part of her holidays is the same room in which that teenager spent summer nights imagining the world. When I am here, we’re both here. I tell her the stories from my trips, and I hope she finds some soothing words for the wounds I bring back here with me.

Kureishi left the plane wordless but with a wide smile on his face. I followed him.


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