A Song That Sang Itself

Vienna International Airport is small but interesting. I knew the ‘small’ part of it beforehand. The whole airport, though being divided into five terminals and displaying a confident sort of busyness, has the standard assortment of Duty Free stores to offer. However, the ‘interesting’ bit is something I think will remain so only for a few people.

When I took off from Stockholm’s Arlanda, I did not know that my connecting flight to Dubai had been cancelled, and that I had been rebooked into the 23.15 – a misfortune that left me looking at a stale 10 hours of waiting and watching the clock tick slowly away. An SAS employee at a helpdesk informed me about this much later – but what made the difference was that she really seemed sorry about my status quo. Also, the free food coupons!

Anyway, I landed at Vienna with nothing to do at all and, for the first time in 20 years, realised how important spending time usefully actually was. In those 10 hours, I must have spent at least five walking up and down the longer span of the airport. The other five, I spent looking out a window. That’s also when things were interesting.

The window looked out into an area where the planes seemed to be docked. The runway was a little way ahead, and that particular afternoon, it was very foggy and wet. Below, I could see the engineers bustling around with all their equipments and waiting for aircraft engines to go faulty or the wings freeze up. Just behind me was a shop whose banner read ‘Travel & Care’, and they played good music. Just then, Annie Lennox’s ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ was going on, and my calves were starting to ache. I turned around and decided to lean against the railing set adjacent to the wall. A short while later, when I saw a couple staring pointedly at something behind me, I turned around again, but this time, for quite a view.

The metal birds were dozing while the brains ran around them in their trucks and what-nots. There was a group of crows in the distance, dancing with the wind. A parking lot below was full of cars except for one empty slot, into which was a black car was now easing. The vipers on its windshield were on full swing and its indicators flashed into the blockade brightly.

A gentle drizzle began just then, and if you had been there and put your face against the window, you could’ve seen each raindrop crash and slide against the Perspex. It was like watching the world from inside a prison cell: as each drop landed, a battle was fought just a few inches away from your eyes. So much torment and turbulence at the other end, and you stood here admiring a beauty that only you could see. It was beautiful.

The song changed to Green Day’s ‘Wake Me Up’. Just then, on the runway, an Emirates jet was building momentum for its ascent. Its tail fin cut through the fog like a burning blade through butter, and the dense cold clouds formed a smooth streamlined trail at the end. After the plane took off, all that remained was a streak of water suspended limply in the air, along with billows of dew that had been whipped off the ground. September ended there, and when I looked up, there was a lonely crow flying around in circles.

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last…

The world just beyond that window was like a song that was singing itself, moving from one statuesque verse to another. The crows flying around the place as though not knowing what to do or what to make of the great white elysian birds beneath, the black car now easing itself out of the parking slot as nonchalantly as if it had nothing to with the bustle around it, the rain drops and their ceaseless pounding wanting me to belong to a tempestuous world. Music and nature are enigmas, and will remain so for quite some time to come.

Vienna International Airport was a ghost town that evening, and I was happy to be an ethereal part of it – if only to myself and to those unconcerned crows.

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