Letter from Paris: Down Here, It’s Normal. Out There, It’s Not
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Wednesday, 1st December 2021

'I had forgotten how much I missed this,' said the passenger seated next to me as our aircraft taxied to the gate at Newark Airport.

“This?”, I asked politely, even though I was anxious as hell to get off the plane given the flight had been delayed by two hours and I only had 30 minutes to run to my gate to catch my connection to Paris. This is one of the joys of travel I don’t miss, yet I found it strangely exciting – the adrenalin rush of catching connecting flights.

“The flying, landing, taxiing,” he said. A consultant who’s worked and lived in Cleveland for the last 10 years, he’s on his way to Delhi to see his mother for the first time in 20 months. “She’s celebrating her 75th birthday and no way am I missing it,” he had told me earlier.

As someone who used to do 250 trips a year, my new friend, like all of us, had been relegated to the virtual world – he didn’t even travel domestically in the US when he could. He doesn’t think he’ll ever go back to being on the road as much anymore.

“Our clients have gotten used to virtual now, and it’s also less expensive for them if we don’t travel for every meeting, fewer expenses,” he said. “What doesn’t work though are those hybrid meetings where some people are physical and some are virtual – the virtual people tend to get forgotten.”

So, not a big fan of hybrid – which I can empathise with. Hybrid does create unequal worlds – the ones who are there versus the ones who are not. And I think we have too much inequality in the world already for yet another divide to solidify.

Read the full story here

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