Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Sometimes it's a culture shock when you travel. We get locked in our own culture and go about our daily lives without observing or realising how we act and how others see us. When you travel abroad, your eyes open and you observe.
My flight to America started off with an introduction to airline class systems. First class passengers may board at their leisure around the same time as those requiring assistance. Business class are called shortly after. Then the rest of us are called in groups. I was group four, so it seemed like I was last to be called as I looked around an empty lounge. Then it was the walk of shame, past those in the wider aisles and leather seats with space for stretching your legs. I diverted my eyes as those paying ten times more were keen to be seen in the expensive seats. It appears to be ego food for them as they stare at every passenger coming on board.
There was no-one next to me, so I had lots of room and the cloth seats were just as comfortable and the service just as helpful, though I did notice that our cabin crew were at least ten years older and smiled a lot less. I guess my seat was subsidised by those with more money than sense who pay a larger part of the staff and fuel costs. Maybe I should shake their hands next time. I paid around $3500 for my seat, but I felt like I had the cheap seats on the Titanic. I started to wonder if there were some safety benefits that I am also being denied. Does my oxygen mask come down only after sufficient gasps have been taken by my higher paying colleagues ? Are there fleece-lined life jackets available as an optional extras ?
The Sky Mall magazine is another reminder that America is a nation of people with too much money. It's full of things that no-one needs but claim to solve a problem in your daily life. How about huggable hangers which have a velvety surface and keep your clothese firmly on that hanger ! I bet that's something that's been a problem for you ? A watch storage case which stores 11 or 24 watches. How many watches does one need ? I must admit, I spent the first hour of the flight flicking through it and I did like the ice-cold beer on tap device which "pours a beer just like at the bar". Oh No ! I'm becoming hooked on this culture of want rather than need, and I've hardly left UK airspace. Boy is it infectious. The massive seven foot cabinet holding 2,500 CDs is something that you don't see in the UK. Everything seems to be $99.99, whether it's a self-propelled pool float for your garden pool, or a dog dazer, which emits a high pitched tone to stop that annoying dog barking next door. This book will convince you to buy something that you don't need.
On arriving in Sundance, it's dark, very cold and it's a far cry from sun, sea, sand, glitz and glamour of the Cannes Film Festival. I'm amazed that any millionaire Hollywood star would want to be in these uncomfortable surroundings. The next morning and it's different. The sun is shining and giving a warmth through the cold air. The snow glistens in a way rarely seen in the UK and makes the snow-capped houses look incredible. Everyone is ultra friendly and you only need to look lost for 10 seconds before someone will ask you if they can help. The buses take you around the various locations of Sundance which is based in the hotels of Park City.
Lots of films to see today and more tomorrow. I've also got some exclusive film clips and images to upload but my broadband is not that fast and I may wait until I get back. I'll post another update later tonight.