back from break – a reflection on traveling

I know it’s been two weeks since I posted. sorry. It was spring break, and my brother and I went to Japan. yes, Japan.

So, now I’m back after traveling roughly 22 hours yesterday (it’s easier to fit that in one day when you add 10 time zones). Last night Julian and I crashed at 7pm and I slept till 7am… I think he woke up at 4am. Anyway, there is lots to say about Japan, but I wanted to start with these snapshots:

In the Osaka airport when I went through security I took off my shoes, since they have a history of setting off the metal detectors. A smiling young man looked me in the eye and said something in Japanese, and set a pair of brown slippers on the floor for me to walk through the metal detector with. On the other side, and equally friendly young woman took the slippers from me as soon as I slipped them off my feet. I am still confused when people bend down in front of me to take something off the floor for me.

12 hours on a plane later.

In Detroit after going through customs we had to go through security again. After standing in line for 5 minutes, and chatting with the woman behind me, I made it to the front and began taking off my shoes. Two employees were working on that side of security, all yelling, none of them acknowledging my presence. When suddenly out of nowhere three beautiful elderly Indian women appear beside me in wheelchairs with one airport person, and one older Indian man speaking English. The three beautiful and graceful women get out of their wheelchairs and put their sweaters and purses on the xray belt. I watch as one by one all three of them go through the metal detector and each set it off. The airport people yell more – “WHEELCHAIR AT GATE SIX” “DOES THIS WOMAN SPEAK ENGLISH?” “CAN YOU PLEASE STEP BACK?”. I walk through the metal detector unstopped, put my shoes back on, watch as they inspect my bag for a couple seconds longer than feels comfortable, and then walk away. As I leave as quickly as possible, I notice one of the beautiful Indian women being patted down in plain view, her sari (sp?) a little off kilter, by a gruff woman. After consulting with my traveling companions we agreed that we thought we saw all three of them being patted down.

The customs guy told Julian and I “welcome back.” It’s interesting how different it looks to say “welcome here for the first time.”

Next post will have pictures real pictures.

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