The fear of travelling is called hodophobia -- but when it comes to airports, I call it common sense.
This is the only place where people voluntarily line up one by one, like prisoners in a chain gang, to throw themselves at the mercy of security guards with the power to strip search. And on top of that, there's the physical challenge of frantically removing every metallic and electronic item from your pockets while that damn conveyor belt moves mercilessly forward, carrying your laptop and dignity out of reach.
Then there's the airlines' caste system that recalls oppressive regimes such as colonial India or high school. Economy class? That's a euphemism if ever I heard one. Never mind the arbitrary rules that void your ticket if you're one minute late for a flight leaving in an hour -- it's not being allowed into those damn private lounges that gets to me.
And yet, amidst the chaos and soiled burger wrappers in the food court that's never clean, there is a joy, a tranquillity, to be found if you change your perspective.
What's the secret?
Just remember this: once you pass security, you enter the most relaxed place on earth.
Unlike that yoga retreat where you're expected to wear skin-tight $300 lycra and you're not allowed to sneak in booze, at the airport there is no judgement -- and no one cares what you look like or do. Sure, the wifi's unreliable and the bathrooms are an eye opener, but then it is a place where the civilised world's constraints and etiquette no longer apply.
Feel like a drink at 8 am? Never fear. Nowhere else in society -- not even at a high-end tropical resort -- would the bartender simply pour your breakfast booze without even a raised eyebrow. You don't even need to spout that cliché of being scared of flying -- they'll just ask if you want a double.
Want to wear your stained tracksuit pants with thongs? Go ahead! I don't know when jeans and sneakers suddenly became so torturous they needed to be replaced by something more comfortable, but never mind: at an airport, no one asks questions.
Craving grease in your diet? This is the place to go, as no other worthy option exists (except if you like salads that resemble compost). With a hunger strike the only other option, you can now tuck in to guilt-free burgers and fried chicken, complete with jumbo cups of cola that will have you lining up the aisle of your plane in no time. Come to think of it, maybe that's why people wear loose fitting pants while travelling.
In a world where we increasingly feel guilty about our vices -- even during our holidays -- the airport is the one judgement-free zone we have left. True, opium, gambling and hunting still aren't allowed, but hopefully it's just a matter of time before that changes.
After all, it's not the journey or the destination that matters. It's the airport.