Missing a Flight at the Ataturk airport

In our lives we face many tragedies and heartbreaks. We cry sometimes and sometimes we bear, absorb and let go. Out of all these tragedies and moments of heartbreak is… missing a flight, what heightens it is, if the person has a boarding pass. What adds fuel to this fire, is when you watch other travellers boarding their flights. And all you can do is sulk more.

The worst of it all are the constant replays of ‘what ifs’ in your mind. In the end it is the what ifs that hurt the most.

I am writing this in a corner of the Burger King where the staff is fixing the Turkish Flag on the counter. It is Turkey’s 90th anniversary since it became a Republic There are no people around me, except the old persian lady who is drinking her beverage in a very condescending manner. The airport is smellless, probably because I have got a cold (which I got from staying outside the airport waiting for a car to arrive which never did).

Why did I miss the flight?
Please spare me the torture of asking the same question for which I have no answer except punching my fists and repeating the words which my parents would have. It would be better if you punch me (with pillows) or throw me off a building onto a truck of pillows. Ah, sweet pillows, what blessing they are…Sleeping on a benches, where I couldn’t fit my tall structure. My feet would be pushed away by fellow travellers, who were blessed by the aromatic smells of the socks.

Ataturk ariport is named after the Founder of the Turkish Republic. The airport is one of the busiest in the world. The best feature of this airport is that it has no wi-fi (unless you have a turkish number). You might wonder how is that? Well, no wifi means you can save your battery which means you can call your friends in the middle of the night to help you. Sometimes you hear them sleep talking to you, and sometimes you hear them fall asleep. Apart from that, if you are bored after knowing the airport like the back of your hand, you can take some time off, to write like I am doing right now. It helps me to let off the steam. Infact, I found a pen hidden in deep pockets of my bag which I had brought from the school where I was teaching creative writing to kids.

The worst part of the airport is…again the wifi. Tell me what would a stranded passenger do, who’s bombarded with stress after missing a flight? the constant replays in the head is just torture. It kills you, every single atom of your spirit. One by one, every minute.

Moving on, since I have become a de-facto citizen of Ataturk airport ( I can tell you every part of the airport except the smoking lounge), I have made some observations.

1) In Istanbul, the most likely way a person may die is either; Being stuck in the traffic which chokes the living life out of you or dying from a lung cancer. Smoking is like breathing here. I was sitting outside the airport to take in fresh air. And all I got was fumes emanating from ciggarettes. From east to west and north to south, smoke is everywhere. And as my day was going just brilliant, the wind blew the smoke in my direction. That was just beautiful, you should have seen my face.

2) I saw two jews, for the first time in my life. They are like normal people like you and me not like what is told by fanatical mullahs and by self rightous keyboard warriors. They have cool hairstyles too. They are humans, like me.

3) Persian women are the largest consumer of hair colour. They dye their hair blonde, everyone of them.

4) High possibility of me being a Turk. Everyone at the airport talks to me in Turkish. I can pull of my Turk assisted by my broken Turkish. In fact the day I arrived, I went into a taxi. Tried to make a conversation with the driver, who calls Medya FM morning show host Murat about an ‘arap guy who can speak Turkish’. I tried to make basic conversation with the host, that I was not an Arap but a Kesmiri, and he asked me to speak more and all I could manage with was ‘Seni Seviyorum and Seni Ozledim’ which mean I love you and I miss you. Turkish songs galore.

5) I believe in signs. Not the board signs, the other SIGNS. I read a board ‘Hope to see you back in Istanbul soon’. I took a picture and said ‘Insha Allah’. It works and it is too fast.

'Hope to see you back in Istanbul soon'
‘Hope to see you back in Istanbul soon’

6) Turkish girls are very graceful, polite and beautiful of all the girls in the world. I have a strong case with Baba’s ‘Kashmiri girls are the most beautiful girls’.

7) If there’s a place that reminds you and feels like Kashmir, it here, it is here, it is here. Not at the airport but Turkey in itself.

Missing a flight can also mean, that you have to explore the city of your dreams. An opportunity to pray at the Blue Mosque and meeting amazing people. Also watching the Fireworks of the National Day, which reminds you of the eternal wait of such celebrations in your occupied nation.


4 thoughts on “Missing a Flight at the Ataturk airport

  1. Oh god I agree 1000000000%
    My flight was delayed 2 hours and I was 3 hours before, I had my 5 hours discovering every single inch of the airport, I was like blaming myself, why I didn’t save some money so that I could go back to Istanbul’s city center and spend more time with the amazing turkish friends…
    The wifi killed me piece by piece, waiting to be connected on the Doruknet network, I had the chance for a lost hope by musthave the turkish number, trying to ask people to share their internet but those who had it, didn’t unfortunately speak English neither arabic..
    Hope you are doing fine Muhammad, back home safe..


  2. Your notes are so touchy that moved me away, Faysal. I couldn’t even find the right words to express what it means to all of us getting kinda feedbacks from our guests. Until you arrived at Istanbul, you were just names and surnames for us that we didn’t know much more than you provided us. But at the end of the 3 days fully shared together, you all are even more than friends, brothers & sisters. When I say this, I mean literally.

    The first day after the congress was the hardest. When I got back home, no crowds around, no other language spoken, no coffee break conversations… I felt emotionally collapsed. Still, miss you all one by one, just like my other friends in the organisation team. But I know for sure that I have lots of homes in a lot of different countries just like you all have homes here in Turkey and that is kinda amazing.

    By the way, totally agree with your observation about traffic. Kills me everyday 🙂

    Zeynep Çalıkıran


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