I rushed into my departure gate at Mumbai airport thinking that boarding would have started, and found that the flight was slightly delayed. That gave me a few minutes to kill in an area with a wonderful art installation. I’ve written about the carved wooden doors of Gujarat sometime earlier, but I had no photos to share. This installation was full of them.
One of the things I like about older localities in Ahmedabad are the exquisitely carved doors of old havelis. The doors are certainly very attractive, as you can see here, but when you look at the architecture they are embedded in, it is clear that they are there in a supporting role. It is the whole architecture which is the star. Here, in the airport, the doors were extracted out of their settings and shown as beautiful pieces of art. Abstracted from their context, I thought they lost just a bit of life.
Used as an art installation they take on a different role, as desirable pieces. Seeing them here reminded me of a conversation I had recently with someone who was thinking of modernizing an old building in Gujarat and getting the money for it by selling the doors and windows of the house. That is a lot of money, which means that there is a market for these doors. Don’t be surprised if one of these old doors turns up in a corporate office you see, or a hotel you walk into.
If you travel frequently how likely is it that you spend a lot of time in one of the most beautiful airports in the world? I’m lucky enough to live in one of the frequently listed cities. What that means in practice is that I have a good enough feel for the local traffic that I can spend little time in my home airport. The result is that my airport time is mostly spent in other airports, usually in large waiting areas, staring at runways through closed doors, past the corridors that direct travelers from gate to baggage carousel. One may be interesting, but the repetition is deadening.
Arriving in Lisbon airport I was immediately struck by the laid-back atmosphere. I’d passed through Mumbai and Munich in the sixteen hours before arriving. Although Lisbon was much smaller than either, there was a cafe near the belt where you could wait until your baggage arrived. Mine came very soon.
The Family was to catapult in within an hour. Why we’d taken different flights is a tale full of sound and fury which I might post about later. I wheeled my bag over to the airport station and got two Viva Viagem cards out of a machine. These rechargeable cards cost you a non-refundable 50 cents, and you can use it on all transport in the city, including the train to Sintra.
It was still forty minutes till The Family’s flight touched down. There was a cafe right outside the customs exit. Lisbon in full of these convenient laid-back options. I got myself an espresso and a queque, billed as a Portuguese muffin, found a comfortable chair, and settled in for a wait. The photo of the cafe in the foreground, and the exit gate in the back ground, which you see above, was the view from my table.
My host had warned me to take a taxi from the departure level since there’s a good chance that the arrival level taxis will try to cheat you. When the family arrived we asked the tourism office about taxis. They said that it might take about 12 Euros to our hotel and a prepaid taxi costs about 24 Euros! we took the bags up to the departure level and got into the first taxi which we saw. It is a short ride to town: about 15 minutes on Sunday afternoon. It cost us less than 10 Euros.