A Tale of Two Countries
Two weeks ago I made the journey between two countries, and suffered the jolt of reverse culture shock.
At Beirut airport, travelling on my own and carrying a baby in a sling, I had a kind of celebrity status. It was as though we glided through the airport on an invisible red carpet rolled out for us: help offered; suitcases lifted; queues waived and baby photographed by a Saudi tourist.
But as soon as I arrived at London Heathrow I became anonymous again, just some woman walking miles along bland blue carpeted corridors, baby on her front and bags on her back. Then manoeuvring a trolley and a buggy through baggage reclaim, between the sideways glances of people noticing but not offering to help.
And all I could think was: Lebanon, I miss you.
But then my mum met me at arrivals and bought me a cup of earl grey tea, with milk (that was free and not hot and frothy), and the traffic was so well behaved and the fields such a lovely shade of pale pear green that slowly my heart eased, and I felt myself slide into the long summer evening and the light that never seems to end.
And I realise: England, I’ve missed you.