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Hiba Essa Al Ateek: Verging on creepy
April 24, 2015
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I have a thing for airports. It’s a weird infatuation actually. Two weeks ago, my husband and I exchanged our stressed out and all too familiar routine life in Paris for a week in Morocco.  We wanted to immerse ourselves in a fascinating new culture and enjoy an early spring that still hadn’t arrived in Paris. 

Once we passed the impatient queue for passport inspection at the Charles de Gualle airport, I was overwhelmed with the rush of emotions that came over me. I stared too long at all the travellers. I tried to put each under a category after I played a game where I guessed their destinations, origins and mission in life.

There were travellers that sought adventure and escaped the familiar and left behind personal baggage. There were those that were counting the minutes to be reunited with loved ones back home. I stared too closely at those who still had tear-stained cheeks after painful goodbyes or were travelling to face a painful truth.

There were also those travellers that seemed too familiar with airport life. These travellers flew several times a month and used airport coffee shops to wrap up final paper work and presentations while frustrated at the excitement of those explorers of the world.

I couldn’t think of any other place that carried so many people from all walks of life with different purposes while they all waited impatiently to get on their flight to get their new chapter started.

We decided to have a light meal at a coffee shop since we aren’t fans of airline meals. I purposely placed my computer in the checked in luggage (at my own risk) since I didn’t want to be distracted from the glory of life around me.

I placed my little brown leather journal that I carried around everywhere on the table. I was ready to take notes on what I observed.   

I knew I would find some inspiration from strangers. They seemed to know what I needed at that time. Or maybe I paid more attention since they were strangers.

This may sound crazy to many but the way I saw it, airport-people-watching was a very important part of the travelling experience since it gave me inspiration and allowed me to be a curious observer type of writer, or a creepy one?

It didn’t take long for me to get distracted by the conversation that took place at the table behind ours. I never saw their faces but I concluded they were a bunch of female friends in their mid 30s.

“I wish I was an octopus. An extra three pair of arms would do me a lot of good. I would be able to work and do chores and make phone calls and cook. Now imagine if I could teleport too or if those arms didn’t have to be attached to my body.”

Hmmm, she probably would go under the adventurer category. I couldn’t help but giggle at her description.

Her friends all laughed out loud and the description of the octupus got weirder and weirder as they each added their own amendments and personal requirements to it. They really had an imagination.

Another excited overwhelmed voice said, “We are finally doing this girls! Can you believe it? I’m done listening to that poisonous voice at night that fed me lies of us not having what it takes to go through with this.

Six months away from Paris to create our own little niche market in photography. This orphanage and school is making our dream come true.”

A third older voice said, “Let’s continue to stick together and do whatever it takes to complete this mission. We know we are going to face many more obstacles but let’s remember how much we want this and let’s be intentional about it.”

A few triumphed giggles, sighs and laughs went round the table. That word struck me. Intentional.

I made a few notes in my coffee stained journal about finding my battle field in life and doing whatever it takes to stay inside it because I needed to live with intention and purpose.

It amazed me how strangers affected me more than my close circle of friends at times. To me they were ordinary people with extraordinary stories that would impact my life forever even though they didn’t know it. They had that power.

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Hiba Essa Al Ateek is an Emirati woman who swapped the
corporate world in Dubai for life in bustling Paris. Hiba is a
self-confessed coffee addict who, for the remainder of her journey
in France, is determined to master the French language and discover
what it really means to be a Parisienne in the 21st century.

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