Talking Books at 37000 ft

I’m eight and a half hours into my eleven and a half hour flight from Tokyo to D.C.  I have every form of entertainment, minus a computer and the blessed Internet, with me to help pass the time but I’m having trouble focusing on one activity at a time.  My carry-on contains an iPod loaded with TV shows, movies, audiobooks, podcasts and 9666 songs (yes you read that correctly, 9666 songs).  It’s an 80 GB iPod and with all that stuff on there I still have 23.5 GB of free space.  CRAZY!  So I have that, my DS Lite plus five video games; The NY Times Crossword Puzzles, Brain Age 2 with Sudoku, Super Mario Bros., Lego Star Wars and Dr. Mario; O Magazine, People Magazine (thanks Sandy!), this notebook and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

Of course I had grandiose ideas of reading along to the audiobook of The Gargoyle, but that hasn’t happened yet.  I still have four hours to go though.  We are currently over Canada, just south of Great Bear Lake and coming up on Edmonton, according to the in-flight map.  The sun is coming up over the horizon, or actually the plan is coming up over the horizon. 

My seat neighbor is a lovely woman from Taipei, Taiwan.  She is on her way to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she lives due to her job.  I don’t feel as full of self pity about my long flight after learning about her itinerary.  Taipei to Tokyo (3 hours), Tokyo to D.C. (11.5 hours), a six hour layover at Dulles Airport followed by the final leg of her trip, D.C. to Buenos Aries (10 hours).  Yikes!

So my new friend is reading Ten Thousand Suns.  Her copy is a translated edition in Chinese.  It’s about the same length as in English at about 385 pages and has a gorgeous cover.  It’s so cool to see the pages covered in Chinese characters and her reading it, what seems to us as back to front.  We talked about the story a bit.  Though I haven’t read it yet, it’s sitting on my shelves at home in Okinawa with a ton of others, I’m still familiar with the story.  My neighbors English name is Josephine and she was talking about the unfathomable conditions that women live in in Afghanistan.  That “…they are treated worse than dogs…” and that she could “…not imagine living a life like the women in this book live.”  I agreed with her but told her that I have friends in the U.S. Marine Corps who have deployed to Afghanistan and were extremely moved by the people they encountered there.  Some even talked about returning for future deployments just to be able to help the great people of that war torn country.  Keep in mind that Ten Thousand Suns takes place over thirty or so years and under Taliban influence/terror. 

It is so cool to talk about a book that has reached across the languages of the world to share one story.  To sit here and talk with Josephine about a book I have read about endlessly on your book blogs and to connect with someone who is as entranced by the book she is reading as you and I are with the books we read.  

Well, I had better try to get a little shut eye before breakfast is served.  I wonder what crazy, non-food-like concoction they will be serving us?  Dinner was a scary beef and gravy dish.  Thank goodness I packed “Uncrustables”, brownies, pumpkin bread muffins, baby carrots and granola bars, or I would be starving right now.