Imagine driving up to the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi and finding it completely empty… You would laugh at me, if I suggested such a possibility two years ago, right? Well, not any more. COVID-19 has changed a lot of things around the world and travelling surely is among them.
In April, as international travel restrictions were gradually lifted, I was getting ready for visiting my mother in Europe. Anxious about the virus looming at me from every nook and worried about the new procedures to undergo for the sake of Covid SOPs, I realized that travel in the time of pandemic will be a unique experience – something to tell my grandkids about some day. I underwent a Covid test in Karachi, booked another one at the airport upon arrival to Latvia, filled out an online Covid pass required by Riga International Airport, and ‘armed’ myself with a packet of face-masks and sanitizers. I was finally all set for the travelling.
Completely empty was exactly how I found Jinnah International Airport, as my flight was the only outbound one that morning. Having faced for a week the news of other flights being cancelled, I felt somewhat privileged to be flying. Luggage control was a breeze, as was checking in. No lines at passport control and even no usual body checks by female staff in cabins. So far all good and neat, although I have to admit that the vast empty expanses of the airport seemed somewhat surreal and just not right – as if I had stepped into some sci-fi movie.
This is an excerpt from the print issue.
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