MH17: a note of sorrow from a Dutch traveller




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Today at 2:39 AM
BY STEP VAESSEN

How many times did I fly Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and onwards to Jakarta the past 17 years? Maybe 30 times, or more. Comfortably locked up inside the plane with my music, magazines and movies I have always felt a strange sense of protection. As soon as I boarded I somehow entered a different world completely unrelated to the world outside.

A world with happy families leaving on an exotic holiday, children comfortably dressed jogging outfits with their toys tightly their arms. A nice mix of European and Asian travelers, mostly Dutch and Indonesian. A world of anticipation, excitement and brotherhood. We are all this “ship” together for the next 13 hours so let’s make the most of it.

How many times did I tell young Dutch travellers about my life on the other side of the globe? I made friends at 33,000 feet and tired my best Indonesian on next to me. It’s that small world so familiar to me that I saw on images the crash site of MH17. A travel on Bali, toothpaste bought a Dutch shop, a magazine I would always buy at Schiphol airport. This little protected world has for once met the real world outside and is in shatters on a flowery field in eastern Ukraine. [eap_ad_1] I believe most air travellers like to imagine themselves only in relation to the inside of the plane. Our brain somehow protects imagining flying rough mountains, dark wide oceans, violent territories. If we would see ourselves in a small tube travelling above all these danger zones we probably would not fly this much.  And the is these worlds hardly ever come together. We usually land at the other end without being “touched” by the world beneath.

I recall only a few times I thought about the wars and conflicts going on down there and about the possibility they could hit me at this height. I remember years ago finding it strange my plane flew Afghanistan while a war going on. I thought the pilot would probably know best.

Somehow these last few days many images come back to me. One of the strongest is the British girl I met just after the bomb attack in Bali in 2002. Her party dress partially burned, make up on her dirty face as a last reminder of the evening before. She looking for her boyfriend who probably one of the 202 , mostly young tourists.

I thought about her after seeing images of another holiday brutally shot into pieces at that field in Donetsk.

Of course the terrorist attack in Bali different than what happened to MH17. But similarly two very different worlds came together. A world that imagined safe, happy and full of expectations and a world of hatred, vengeance and conflict. I have regularly traveled back and forth between these two worlds, always comfortably in a position to “escape”.

But during these past painful and sorrowful days I start to think that we should realise that there is no such thing as two separate worlds.  (AlJazeera)
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