The more I fly, the less I enjoy it. Sure, I like the feeling of freedom, of being out roaming and seeing the world, meeting new people, tasting different food and experiencing new places. (I especially love bookstores, even in countries where I don't speak the language.)
But last night's attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport shakes me, even more so than other recent attacks – which surely are no less alarming and heartbreaking – because I spent some time there on two occasions earlier this year with my family.
Our tickets had been booked many months in advance, when attacks on Istanbul weren't at the forefront, as they are now. Back when Turkey still felt like a relatively safe place in a troubled part of the world.
We landed there as a connection point on the way to Europe in March, the morning after an attack on the center of Istanbul (that had put the kibosh on our hopes of getting a Turkish Air-sponsored tour of the city during our layover). The airport in Brussels had also just been attacked.
That news put me on guard ... and on edge, despite the fact that, through the airport windows, the city looked much like any other city.
When we sat during our long layover, we camped away from the heavily populated center of the terminal with its shops and restaurants. When we needed to pass the areas where folks were going through security, we gave them a wide berth, because I suspected those spots were where attacks would seem most likely.
I kept my eyes and ears open.
But we did eat meals in restaurants and snack on Turkish specialties – like Turkish delight, Turkish ice cream and the warm milky Sahlep drink – and we did visit the duty free (and the bookstore) and we did pass those security areas and we did sit for a coffee in the food court, even if only briefly.
And, as last night's attack reminded me in stark terms – because I recognized some of the places I saw in horrific photographs and footage – it only takes a second being in the wrong plac…Read more...