Transit Ghost

This year I’ve travelled through three continents, seven countries, fourteen cities and ten hotels; between 21st January and 12th April my longest stay in the UK was nineteen days…

  • 11004 miles in January (Manchester-London-SanFrancisco-London-Manchester)
  • 7020 miles in February (Manchester-Dubai-Manchester)
  • 12280 miles in March (Manchester-Chicago-SanDiego-Vancouver-Chicago-Manchester) [1]
  • 9823 miles in April (Manchester-Islamabad-Lahore-Karachi-Lahore-Karachi-London) [2]
  • 1450 miles in May (Manchester-Milan-Manchester) [3]
  • 762 miles in June (LeedsBradford-Paris-LeedsBradford)
  • 574+730 miles in July (LeedsBradford-Amsterdam-LeedsBradford) and (Manchester-Paris-Manchester)
  • 12751 miles in August (Manchester-Chicago-SanFrancisco-Chicago-Munich-Manchester) [4]
  • 662 miles in September (LeedsBradford-Brussels-LeedsBradford)
  • Unfortunately, trips to Boston in October and November were cancelled 🙁
  • 762 miles in December (LeedsBradford-Paris-LeedsBradford)
  • It sorta looks like this…

That’s…

  • 57818 miles in total.
  • 24.2% of the distance to the Moon.
  • 2.32 times around the Earth.
  • 10.58 tonnes of CO2.
  • A carbon offsetting of £80.35.
  • An average speed of 8.8mph!

It’s an odd feeling to exist outside the patterns of most lives – governed and guided by airline schedules rather than circadian rhythms, being fed lilliputian food by perma-smiling strangers, collecting the biographies of fellow travellers like baseball cards, sleeping whilst others wake and measuring time in remaining battery life.

For much of this year, I’ve felt like a ghost – slipping though nations, leaving only electronic traces in the digital bellies of hotels, immigration and ticketing. My personal relationships have been mediated almost entirely through GSM, MSN and timezone calculus…I’ve found myself awake when others around me are sleeping, whether on planes, at my folks or in airport lounges. Sometimes I see other ghosts around me too, usually hunting for ectoplasm ports to charge their ghost charms – iPods, phones and laptops – though looking more Ghostbuster than ghost.

I worked a depressing night job between school and university, as a security guard at a flatpack furniture factory. I guess that was a beta for Imran 2006. But, far from being a lonely, disconnecting existence, it’s been oddly serene, being uncoupled from other’s realities. I also have a deeper, more profound appreciation for sleep and why Muslims are permitted to skip prayer during our travels.

[1] This doesn’t include the seaplane ride around Vancouver from CXH.

[2] The return leg of this trip was particularly gruelling (literally planes, trains & automobiles), with a two-hour 10pm flight from Lahore to Karachi, followed by nine hours in transit at Jinnah, eight hours to Heathrow, one hour in the Underground to King’s Cross, around three hours to Leeds and then Bradford – all accompanied by states of diarrhoea that rotated through solid, liquid and gas at the most inappropriate times. I think I left a brown trail across the planet.

[3] The return flight from Malpensa was the scariest flight I’ve ever been on, with violent turbulence lasting for the first hour of the flight.

[4] I missed my O’Hare to Manchester connection, due to bad weather, and stayed over to catch another flight the next day via Munich and it took me 4 hours to get my bags back. The following day, my connection was delayed meaning I’d only have 15 minutes in Munich to change planes for Manchester! After 40 hours of travel – it felt like I was in an episode of Quantum Leap, ‘…hoping each time that my next leap, would be the leap home.’

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