Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the Road Again

At present I am in Boston, on route to San Francisco via Charlotte, an airport I have never visited before. I can thus still hope they will have some of those glass cages where you can smoke while waiting in transit, thus decreasing the likelihood of air rage. Air rage is not something I have experienced, but on longer flights (5 hours plus) I do tend go a bit loopy from nicotine deprivation. I look at the text on the mirror in the bathroom saying “Smoking in toilets can carry a $5000 fine and up to 5 years in prison” and find myself thinking: “Huh, that’s not such a bad deal”. Upon landing tonight I will have made 7 flights in all in a week, having also been to the Book Fair in Frankfurt and having had to go to Ísafjörður to pick up some last minute details for the book I am currently writing which partly occurs there. On none did I take my chances with the fines or prison sentence.
While visiting other countries is always wonderful, flying is usually trying. There used to be an ad on the headrests in the Icelandic domestic airline, from Hertz that said „It is the trip, not the destination“ – or something to that effect. What a lie. If I am to get really old I hope for two technological advances, cordless electricity and a travel pod like in The Fly, alas marketed after more testing than in the movie so you don’t turn up in Cairo as half person/half bumblebee.  Then one could enjoy the destination without the trip which would suit me really well.
Many years ago I loved everything about traveling, even the trip. This was when going abroad was something one did every 2-5 years and when the airline still had hot meals and everything on board was free. I remember getting suspicious that there was something in the air when the food started getting more and more meager, the last free meal I had on an Icelandair flight consisted of a one-storey lasagna. I am not really sure the Italians would accept that this even qualifies as lasagna. Next flight – no meals on the house. However, despite this I still do like Icelandair a lot, they are used to the excessive luggage that follows a nation where clothes and most merchandise is two to three times more expensive than elsewhere and you don’t have to pay to travel with luggage which always annoys me. What do they expect? That you travel with you stuff packed in your purse?
I have never been lucky enough to take a flight on board an airline like described in Stan’s post where the crew jokes around – I am always in planes where every word spoken on the intercom has been written, edited and reviewed, by bores. One of my favorite is at the end when the captain announces: “Cabin crew, disarm doors and report”. To me this has got to be the most ridiculous of all the announcements, because A) the cabin crew must know that once the plane is at the gate the door needs to be opened, B) the word “disarmed” makes it sound like a ticking time bomb and C) what does the report requested sound like? Captain, incredibly enough we have successfully disarmed the doors, we will go back and wait for you to announce what we are to do next.
The Frankfurt Book Fair is huge. This was my first visit so I did not really know what to expect, aside for the obvious – lots of books. I was not disenchanted in this respect. Being an author the first impression upon seeing stadium after stadium of published works was one of dizziness and awe. The affair is one for the publishing industry, not so much readers or authors so it is vastly different from Bouchercon or Crimefest. Publishing houses from all over the world set up displays where they promote their books and authors and a lot of deals are signed and careers made.
I was there as a panelist because next year Iceland is the country of honor which is expected to mean a lot for those of our authors not yet in translation as well as those that have already jumped that hurdle. The panel was conducted in German and for the first time ever I had to use headphones with an ongoing, live translation of the discussion into English, so as to be able to understand what was being said and what I was being asked.  I am sure there are people out there that have mastered this but I am not one of them based on my performance. The most annoying thing is that the moderator asks and you have to wait for the translation to be able to answer. I found the silence that followed his question so out of place that I started guessing what he had asked and replying as I thought appropriate. Considering the frequently raised eyebrows when I was done replying my guessing average was not good at all. I remember a particularly odd look upon his face when I described the necessity to keep the backdrop of a murder mystery true and realistic so that the reader will forget how odd the crime is. He had probably asked me if I read poetry as a child.
This last paragraph is written in San Francisco and in case you were wondering there was no glass cage for smokers in Charlotte. What is the world coming to?

Finally if you dear reader are at Bouchercon - seek me out, I might be outside the lobby smoking if you don't see me in the halls.
Yrsa - Wednesday

1 comment:

  1. Yrsa, where are those glass cages for smoking?
    I don't fly anymore because of the restrictions. The "smoking" room in the Atlanta, Georgia is disgusting.
    And have you noticed that American films now include along with "some nudity, profanity" etc. in their warnings "smoking"?
    I'm with Harry Hole in Jo Nesbo's THE REDBREAST who says "Life was becoming shorter and the thought that he would never stop smoking filled him with a strange satisfaction."