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The Heart-felt challenge


Xianyang International Airport, May 14, 2013

There seems to be a queue at the airline check-in counter. Practicing good global citizenship, I stand in line. First time flying Hainan airlines as China Eastern Airline decided to cancel their flight a few days ago while I still need to be in Nanjing for a scheduled meeting today.

A 50-year-old China man behind suddenly cuts past and elbows his way forward. That’s ok. He’s a lot older than me and I can learn to respect the seniors.

Out of nowhere, a 40-year-old looking lady makes her way forward. That’s ok. Ladies first. Being one, I can relate to that.

It’s finanlly my turn to check in. Being a foreigner, I gotta wait for the bag to be screened through security before I can leave the check-in counter. Without a second wasted, the airline staff shouts out “next” as soon as he asks me to wait. Without a second wasted, a young 25-year-old looking guy pushes me aside, handing his ticket and ID card over the counter. I make an awkward jump sideways to secure my personal space. That’s ok. He may be late for his flight. It happens to us all once in a blue moon.

The bag seems to go past and the check-in staff signals an ok for me to move forward to customs. Here comes another queue. Well, that’s part of life. You queue up to get your share of service. Everyone seems to respect order here and slowly wait for their turn though occassionally someone makes a quick move and rushes to a different, seemingly faster-moving line. That’s China. Take it or leave it! Placing my ipad and carry bag onto a plastic tray, I patiently wait for my turn to pass the screening device. A 15-year-old looking girl walks straight through. Man, I did not see that coming! The airport security agent does not seem to mind that. She checks the girl out and lets the kid move forward. That’s ok. Why the rush? I have plenty of time before boarding.

Having figured out where gate 17 is, I walk backwards to a cafe that catches my attention on the way in, Hand-made Coffee it is called. The place is packed, so I walk right through to the back of the store and find a table in a left-over corner. It’s in front of the kitchen entry. No wonder no one wants it. That’s ok. I just need a caffeine fix for the morning and I’ll be right. A few China men slurp their noodle and gobble down their tea, looking all stressed out. Perhaps they would rather be somehwere else….

It’s boarding time. As always, I would wait for everyone to board before making my move. No drama. 19F it is. It’s a window seat though I’ve requested for an aisle seat at check-in. That’s ok. My life wouldn’t be any remotely different without an aisle seat. Getting past two middle-aged, broad-built China men, I seat myself down. Soon enough, I find myself having half a seat. The man on my left really makes himself at home. His right arm occupies the arm rest and his elbow literally knocks me from the side. That’s ok. I am built for half a seat. Why biting more than one could chew? I would share my airline meal with him if I could. I don’t need it and he is probably triple my size. The guy scares me though. He lures the whole pack of fried rice down his throat within 5 seconds. What if he chokes on it? I get all worried for him for a moment there but I must be delussional. He must have done this all his life. I must have failed to notice a mastery aura around him. Just wonder if he tastes anything in his fried rice. Can he taste the sun in the green bean? Can he taste the rain in the fresh looking carrot sticks? Can he taste love and care in each grain of corn?

It has been a test to my understanding and practicing of loving kindness. How do we learn to love others despite being disadvanaged or upset in such challenging situations? For me, it is still a long way to the top….

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