Love, life and Lebanon.

Blog, Destinations, India, Travel

Thirty years of age, from Tyre in Lebanon, Jabira had luxuriant, thick, tightly curled hair which contrasted with a complexion that was paler than what I would have imagined for someone from the Middle East. Faultlessly dressed in her pastel-coloured airline uniform, Jabira wore vivid red lipstick like a movie star.

Perching on the crew seat, at the rear of the aircraft by the galley, she told me that she loved to travel, and even travels on her day off. The conversation then moved in a more personal direction when Jabira told me that she was marrying a guy sixteen years her senior and that this was a good thing.

She preferred more mature men, and her rationale behind this thinking was that older guys are more experienced, they have seen lots of interesting things in life, were stable and are not always looking at other girls.

I immediately began to relax, because up until that point, I was going to be writing a stiffly worded letter of complaint to the airline head office. I was travelling to India once again full of anticipation and excitement, but I had just suffered the worst airline food and service in years of flying.

Feeling restless, I had torn myself away from the irresistible view of distant, foreign shores below me, and a vast, unending range of jagged, white-topped mountains interspersed with glacial lakes. Heading to the rear of the aircraft, I needed to do what every passenger must do after a few hours in their seat. That is when I came face to face with Jabira.

I interrupted her lunch break by remarking on the healthy and nutritious tuna salad that she was eating. Graciously, she then engaged in meaningful conversation with me and willingly surrendered up some personal and fascinating details about her life.

With an impending summer marriage, Jabira was trying to lose weight for her husband-to-be. She declared that at the age of 30 she was now old, and the older you get the more difficult it becomes to lose weight. Of course, I reassured her that she was neither old nor needed to lose weight.

Eventually, the Bursar came and interrupted our conversation, telling the crew it was time to attend to the needs of the passengers. I said goodbye to Jabira for now, and I wished her all the love and luck in the world.

Sitting down in my habitual window seat, now gazing out over a different landscape passing below like a geographical conveyor belt, I contemplated what had just taken place.

I had met Jabira and she had shared her life, hopes, and aspirations with me. My pent-up disappointment with the airline had all but evaporated because, at this moment, it simply did not matter anymore.

Later, she strode past my seat and gave me a knowing smile. I relaxed again knowing that I had been touched by the kindness of a stranger, and I was infinitely richer for it.

(Name changed to protect identity).

Syria.

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Syria. Who understands Syria, and who actually knows what is going on in Syria? Only this week we have heard rumour of collusion between the Assad government and Islamic State.

The protestors in this video in Trafalgar Square know what’s going on. They know their friends and families are being bombed and hurt and that, like in any war, innocent people are suffering and dying.

Only last week apparently, the last paediatrician was killed in Aleppo. It was the philosopher Plato who said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”  Ancient these words maybe, but how ringingly true they still are.

May God give us peace in our time.

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