There are people who are obvious, such as Pilots who take you there safely, tour guides or people who are involved in tourism and who make a living out of your presence.
But there are a whole group of other people who are silent behind desks or the wine bottle they pour from. They are the ones who serve your needs in planes and lounges and hotels. I always make a point of spending a little time with them, get a whiff of their story and since I am a repeat traveller, going to the same places over and over again, some of these silent yet smiling agents of your convenience become your friends. I can think of many. Here is a sample of people who truly make my journeys far more pleasurable.
I have made several friends at Double Tree Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and I am always given a warm welcome by old friends and I make new friends on each visit.
Dat on my right is from Tawau and S who is a Malay-French mix is a new friend. It is not often that you meet someone who speaks French in Malaysia
Maria like others above works in the Executive Lounge of the Double Tree.
I am grateful for Qatar Airways and its CEO Akbar Al Bakr for making my Qatar Airways flight experience superior each and every time. I look forward to my long distance flying on QR! and the pleasure is to meet and talk to new people, like R from Romania. On a recent flight from Doha to Miami, the cabin crew were from Romania, Philippines, Japan, Paraguay. Among the Indians who work as cabin crew, Goans are the best, among the Asians South Koreans have a good reputation. Needless to say I have talked to hundreds of Cabin Crew both male and female from QR and without fault they like this opportunity to see the world and the luxurious ambiance of Qatar Airways. Romanian cabin crew in general is a cut above.
Aksam from Matara in Sri Lanka with a fellow Sri Lankan at the Al Mourjan Lounge at Hamad International Airport. I met Aksam on my first ever flight on Qatar Airways (it was Houston to Doha, going on to Jakarta) and we have kept in touch and we have become friends. I look forward to his hospitality in Sri Lanka. He is very good at his work at al Mourjan, among the many lounges at Hamad International.
Sometimes the smile and friendship arrives from unexpected places. This lady who is from the state of Manipur in India was working at a Plaza Premium Lounge at an Indian airport and we had a nice conversation and I am sure I will see her again.
Most of the people I mention here I have seen more than once and it is nice to walk into a hotel thousands of miles away from your home and be greeted warmly and upgraded rooms and access to Executive Lounges that make your stay more pleasant.
These people are my friends whom I met at the Hilton Hotel in Doha. P is from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe is at the front desk.
J from Baguio in Philippines is so sweet that is beyond belief. She wanted to make sure that I ate and drank well during my visits to the Executive Lounge.
Another Filipina who is consistently good with her attention and service is E. I notice that I am not selected for special attention, it is just that they are good at what they do and seem to enjoy doing what they like and they might feel my gratitude towards them.
A new friend is S, a Kayin from Loikaw in Myanmar. His mannerisms are so pleasant and reflect the gentle nature of his people. He was very pleased when I told him my Burmese name.
In my travels I get to meet a full spectrum of people, mainly diplomats representing their countries, local elites and friends sharing mutual intellectual interests.
In Malacca my preferred hotel i Hotel Equatorial. I have known both Miss LY who is the front desk manager and Mr A who is the manager of the Executive Lounge for many years. On a recent visit it was so wonderful to see them both and enjoy their hospitality.
L on the left is an intern from Sukabumi in Indonesia and on the right A from Malacca.
But it is the people that I am talking about who make my travels very comfortable and enjoyable.
I want to thank them all.
I respect the State of Qatar (despite their anti-Israeli attitudes and the anti-jewish inclination of Al Jazeera) that they are providing nearly 2 million households in Asia and Africa with the possibility of fulfilling their dreams.