Tuesday, 20 April 2010

"Singapore - he's stuck in London..."

came the terse reply from the mother of my godchildren when I inquired as to her whereabouts.
She is, fortunately, at home in Singapore but her husband is stuck in London.
I also have colleagues stuck in Dubai, Istanbul, Moscow, Paris, Edinburgh, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and in a place I am not permitted to mention.
If you wanted a few days extra holiday (at airline expense) then being stuck in some of these places might be quite pleasant - provided you could leave your accommodation and do the tourist thing. I don't think I would care for Dubai or Kuala Lumpur. Some time in Singapore with my godchildren would be good, although I do not think I would care for the climate. The other places all sound attractive - particularly Paris and Edinburgh, particularly Edinburgh.
It is not going to happen.
My colleagues of course are just frustrated. They were all away on work related missions of great importance - or so they would have me believe. I was once paid to go on a day conference from London to Birmingham. The university paid my train fare. The conference was 'free' but I took my own lunch -having been warned about the expense of eating on British Rail. I later paid for the trip by giving a report on the conference. Whether anyone took any notice of it I do not know.
I do rather wonder about all this jet-setting around. Is it really necessary to actually be there everytime? Yes, of course it is easier. I recognise that. I do understand that you get a better feel for someone if you meet them face-to-face and shake their hand. Once you have done that though is there a chance, any chance at all, that video-conferencing might be an option on some occasions?
I had a cousin who travelled constantly. He used to long for the sight of something other than a standard hotel room and a standard board room. He once paid almost $Aust100 for a small piece of meat in a restaurant in Kyoto because he had been away for eleven weeks and not eaten any meat at all. I would have gone without but, by then, he was so fed up with meatless meals and travel that he gave in to the cravings.
There are other 'constant travellers' who see very little too. They arrive, attend a meeting or meetings and perhaps a meal if they are staying over night. They see the inside of terminals, the freeways into cities, the inside of that standard hotel room and the inside of that standard board room. Then they depart. They sleep on 'planes - something I can never do.
It is not 'sight-seeing' by any means - and nobody would expect it to be. I am not sure it is anything else either. I do wonder how valuable much of it really is.
I also wonder if there is any chance at all that some good might come out of the eruption of a volcano. What if business people found they actually needed to travel less?


Old Kitty said...

Oh let's hope so!!

I just know that the silence above is really something. I use the Stansted Express train route and the bliss of being in a near empty carriage for the first time ever during rush hour.. lovely!

p.s I'm intrigued by the place you cannot mention!
pps. I know I'm waxing lyrical as to how the birds are reclaiming the airspace but i do hope everyone returns home to their loved ones eventually!

Take care

catdownunder said...

There is a silver lining to this volcanic cloud then? Silence and seats? Wow!
Actually, we are some distance from the airport but the airstream was such they should have been flying in over us yesterday and yes, it was quieter because there were no international flights!

Rachel Fenton said...

Makes me think of the George Clooney film, Up in the Air...the travelling less bit....I hate being on planes, it's such blank time, and hard work with children!

With the internet and webcams and conference calls and all that jiggled together, there is no need for business people to go scooting around the world.

(All this from me who flew to South Island for research!)

What really makes me laugh are all the celebs who rant on about saving the planet and then hop on a plane or fly all their staff out to them!!

Hope everyone has happy and safe alternative travel and sees the up side of staying on the ground.