Hellos and goodbyes at Budapest Airport


I’m going home for a week. Home in my case means Holland. The only train towards the airport leaves at 6 in the morning, which leaves me stranded at the airport five hours before my flight. I decide to sit down at the arrivals section, where there are still a couple of chairs available to spend a few hours of my time on. Airports fascinate me, they always have. When I was younger I told my mum that I wanted to work as a singer, actress, farmer, teacher at the airport. I just loved how so many different people come together, travelling to different countries for various reasons. People leaving, people arriving, loved ones that wait for them or waving them goodbye.

Today I have plenty of time to observe people in the arrivals section. I can and have to sit there for hours just watching people filled with excitement waiting for their loved ones to come home safely. That moment when they walk through the sliding doors is priceless. Sometimes people see each other from the other side of the window and you can see the happiness and anticipation on their faces when their eyes meet. Other times the airport doesn’t have windows and the welcome crew doesn’t know when their travelers will come through the door. As I’m waiting I watch a family that’s sitting next to me. Two grandparents with three beautiful children. The oldest is a boy; I’m guessing he’s about nine. The other two I realize later, are twins, a boy and a girl, about three years old. The girl has curly hair, the kind that African women have. Beautiful. She’s wearing a pink dress with a princess sewed on the bottom and on her shoulder a purple bag. She’s obsessed with her granddad’s hair, maybe because his hair is quite different than hers, he has short gray hair, straight and with a bold spot at the crown. She keeps stroking his hair and he seems to enjoy it. Her twin brother is running around the place, ignoring his granny’s warnings. The oldest boy has discovered the water fountain and is filling up his bottle. At that moment the mother comes though the siding doors. I wait for the magic to happen, for the children to run towards her, giving her kisses and cuddles, telling her how much they missed her. Instead, something else happens. She put down her two 30kg suitcases, kisses her dad, not even looking at her two young ones. She sees the oldest boy with the bottle and starts shouting at him. I don’t speak their language but it’s clearly about the fact that he’s filling his bottle with the water from the fountain. She grabs her youngest son by the arm and starts walking towards her friend, clearly telling her parents and kids to hurry up. I’m amazed. I know you shouldn’t stare at people, but I can’t help myself. I look at them with big eyes and an open mouth. What just happened? The grandparents don’t seem to care too much for her attitude and slowly make their way out of the airport, while the little girl strokes her granddad’s hair.

At the other side of the room sits a group of people in their twenties, waiting for check in. They’re Dutch. I know this because Dutch people in large groups tend to make a lot of noise and walk around the room as if it’s theirs. They’re still a bit pale after a holiday in the sun and wear tank tops and slippers, also after the sun has gone. I can understand their conversations, even though they think no one can. They’re talking about the ground stewardess, who seems to be a bit naked with her miniskirt and cleavage. One of the girls’ name is Floor. Floor is a typical Dutch name and in Holland I wouldn’t even notice it. Here, I’m still in the English speaking mode and look up when I hear them calling her. Her parents must not have thought their little Floor would travel to English speaking countries.

In front of me two women. I’m guessing they’re about fifty-five. The tall one clearly tries to look younger than she is, but fails miserably. She wears heels with fake diamonds, a skirt that’s a bit too short and three layers of blouses in different shades of pink. She tried to let the pink come back in a flower/shell necklace and large earrings. Her hair has two colors red and has more wax in there than many hairdos have seen in a lifetime. She has purple eye shadow, covering not only eyelids but is extended to the eyebrows. Her lips are pink. Her nails are fake and have pink dots with diamonds. She doesn’t say much, tries to keep up appearances. The woman next to her is the opposite; she didn’t give much attention to her looks but is very chatty and when she laughs, whole Hungary can listen to it. When their friend finally arrives she’s the one overwhelming the friend with a long big hug and lots to talk about. The friend could use a bit of eye shadow.

Next to me sits a girl. She must be around my age. She’s clearly nervous because she’s biting her nails and keeps checking her make-up. She keeps her eyes on the sliding doors. When a young man steps through them, her eyes sparkle. She runs towards his and a long tender kiss follows. Beautiful.

In Holland we have a program called ‘Hello Goodbye’. The presenter and his camera crew search through the arrival halls looking for people to share their stories. I’m hooked on this program and every week I find myself whipping the tears of my cheeks at the end of it. Everyone seems to have an amazing story behind the reason why they’re at the airport at that very moment.

Grandparents, waiting for their children with their adopted baby, a group of friends with signs for the couple returning from their world travels, an African woman hugging her mother after not seeing her for twenty years, two deaf girls leaving home to volunteer in China, a man welcoming his thirty year younger import bride from Thailand, adopted children who meet their parents for the first time, a husband and wife reunited after months, a man with his six year old daughter welcoming their au-pair after the mum passing away the year before, a mother carrying her two-year-old twins after months of skype conversations, lots of hugs, kisses, handshakes, awkward reunions, tears of sadness and of happiness, smiles, laughter, hellos and goodbyes.

Airports are amazing places, filled with nothing but love.


Lots of love,smiles and happiness,



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