In transit to a chosen unknown
|I am in Seoul, Korea. But, really, I am in that nether-world so familiar to international transit passengers, and so incomprehensible to anyone else. My body, my mind, my heart are all unsure of themselves. They seem grumpy with each other, not to mention the human condition. Everything enervates them. Me. |
I am traveling from London to Ulaanbaatar. Seoul is my way-point. Chasing the clock and hurrying the sun, I am in Seoul in the mid-afternoon, having left London last evening. Fortunately, the day is bright, blue and, as far as I can tell from inside the hermetically sealed chamber that is Incheon Airport, warm. So, while my eyes protest the assault of the sun streaming through the glass walls, my mind is grateful for the jolt. My body isn’t trusting anyone: not about the time, not about anything.
Seoul was, the first time I came, the most foreign place I had ever been. I found the smells, the food, the habits and the regard for me as a foreigner all more alienating than the unknown people, language, culture and history. My first thought on emerging from the plane, today, perhaps 17 years later, was simply, “It smells the same.” I wonder if, visiting Mongolia when I am in my 60s, I will step off the plane and think the same thought.