Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rona Laycock: ARRIVAL

We land with a bump and two hops, the wheels rumble below us and people at the back of the plane begin a round of applause that peters out before it reaches us. We rock to a stop and the cabin crew open the doors. Air, as thick as water and sauna hot, invades the cool dry space to which we have become accustomed. The first tentative sniffs of a place are always an adventure and Karachi is no exception.

invading our plane
dust and spices
from another world

The airport building rings with noise, its walls ping the shouts back and fore, back and fore. Confusion reigns around the baggage area but out of the turmoil a line of sorts forms and meanders uncertainly in the direction of officialdom.

A doe-eyed immigration officer sits in his cubicle: bang-bang, bang-bang, he stamps the documents. Each passport is perused, each face glanced at, bang-bang, bang-bang and we're processed.

The confusion of the arrivals hall gives way to chaos outside the building. Bodies weave through bodies in a blurred tapestry of many colours. Mostly men; small, dark and wiry with a way of snatching a living perfected over years of poverty and self-reliance.

Crowds consume the creeping taxis; buses bully their way through but even they have to admit defeat as family after family are reunited and celebrate with ululations, drumming and clapping. Pick-up trucks are laden with people singing and shouting; children slip through the legs of their parents like fish through seaweed. Touts and beggars and whole families down from the country to meet and greet or to say goodbye.

feet scuffing feet
a fallen pigeon

by Rona Laycock
Avening, Gloucestershire, UK

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