28 May 2005 | 647 words | airtravel lebanon syria beirut berlin

At tegel half of the people in front of the check in counter seem to belong to one family whose patriarch is constantly busy telling te members of the extended group where they should be (basically the men at the counter and the women waiting on the other side of the hall).

On both flights (half of the passengers of the full A300-600 leaving berlin seem to make up for three quarters of the full A320 leaving frankfurt) the normative system of the family patriarch proves to be stronger than that of Lufthansa’s ticketing algorithm. both flights take of with 15 minutes of delay mainly due to intensive trading of boarding cards that only stops when the patriarchs family is distributed in the plane according to his wishes (basically boys in the front, girls in the back). The whole flight the patriarch is patrolling the aisle of the plane with much more rigor than the lufthansa crew who has been told to be more respectful and friendly (read: bring more beer by the 5 dudes on the 3 place row just behind me). By now they have retreated to the galley and one needs to go there if one wants another drink…. There was a slight escalation earlier when the party crowd behind me was blocking the aisle, but that situation was defused by the middle-aged gentleman from Stuttgart (of all places!) who told the stewardess to ‘smile a bit more’ and ‘leave the young men alone’. this is the same person who – at the check in at Frankfurt – when told him that the flight was overbooked – fell down at his knees and started to tell them that they could not do this to him as his mother had died and was buried tomorrow and that he could not be denied to board the plane…

While i am writing this the guy next to me – who belongs to the clan of the patriarch – is staring at my screen. so i ask him if he is reading what i am writing but he assures me that he is just looking at the clock in my menu bar. Turns out that he is coming back to lebanon for the first time in 20 years (he left the country when he was 6). He seems to be scared, but i cannot tell if it is because of flying or because of the fact that he comes back to Lebanon after 20 years – ‘things have changed a lot since i left’ there is another person that is looking at my screen: the guy in the window seat. from looking at his screen earlier i know that he is working for Microsoft Lebanon. Later i ask him what he is doing for ms in lebanon. He is a technical consultant who came back from canada 9 months ago. Microsoft Lebanon is the regional representative for ms in lebanon, cyprus, syria – ‘but not right now since syria is on the shit-list’ – jordan, the west bank and iraq – ‘but we do not go there, it is to dangerous, but we have a hired representative’. we talk a bit, i tell him what i do and ask him a bit about their operations. They mainly do MNC work but also government jobs. asked about syria he tells me that they do not operate there but upon my suggestion he tells me that they assume that the syrian government also runs on ms software, albeit pirated. I suggest that this is probably also good for them because once the US topples the government there, they will be used to run MS. He tells me that this is exactly how they see it. Before leaving the plane he gives me his card and suggests that i should meet with his colleague Khaleed who is running their educational operations.