Huddlespaces, the oasis of the modern age
Many years back one morning, in the far north of China, I hitchhiked from Yinchuan, in Ningxia province to the border of Inner Mongolia. Nothing but wilderness and crumbling ruins of a wall (part of the series of barriers that make the Great Wall). There were no tourists here, hardly any traffic, and the landscape was all mine to wander. I thought about all the people who had travelled through here to the west along the silk route. There must have been places where multiple caravans would have rested. I wondered what conversations all those Persian, Koreans, Chinese and a dozen other nationalities that no longer exist had.
Wish I could go back in time to find out what stories they exchanged. These days the nearest I can get to the silk route camp experience is the huddlespaces I find in airports — around power plugs and wi-fi points. Such are the places where strangers become friends, share chargers, passwords and tips about each other’s destinations. Only momentarily, but still friends, especially when their phones are totally out of power and there is nothing much to do.