Brussels Zaventem Airport. As my taxi pulls into the passenger drop-off area a couple of heavily armed policemen peer inside for a moment and give me and my lovely African driver the green light. A mass of passengers walks towards the temporary departure hall through a closed-off, otherwise deserted area of the car park building.Whilst waiting to enter the hall, we can see parts of the main airport building with shattered windows. There is a full luggage and body scan prior to entering the departures hall which takes forever, but everyone understands and is calm, and the staff — while precise — are friendly and gentle. Occasionally someone cuts the queue because they fear they may miss their flight due to the longer procedures, but upon explaining the reason for their impoliteness they are let through without (much) annoyance by passengers flying later. The actual departures hall is, for the moment, basically a tent and feels like a cross between a marketplace and a cattle shed, but also here everyone is efficient and keeping an eye out for people who in some way need extra help. After passing through check-in, entering a part of the main building with high ceilings and pretty floors flooded with sunlight from the enormous windows feels like we’ve suddenly reached another world altogether. Next, yet another security cabin luggage check with lightly joking and smiling staff, leads to the terminal with the usual duty free shops and restaurants operated by hard-working and helpful men and women.
While I am eating some breakfast pastry and taking a moment to reflect on what all this feels like, an elderly lady and a younger one — her daughter — take the seats next to me. The older lady glances briefly at the menu, then proceeds to order a large batch of fresh oysters and half a bottle of white wine.
It is 09.15 and my flight leaves in about half an hour. I sip my tea and the waitress opens a bottle for the ladies sat next to me.
Life goes on — placidly, defiantly, unstoppably.