Hello Los Angeles, city of angels and lost souls.

And grey skies, from the looks of it.

US Customs is apparently a nightmare to contend with and after a fifteen-hour flight, you can be sure to face a wait that might take you an hour; or it might take you three hours. At Los Angeles airport, this myth does not disappoint; never mind that you have a connecting flight. Although I was lucky; by sheer force of astute charm and some clever begging of fellow counterparts in the line, I make my way through in less than half an hour, a miracle by US Customs’ standards. Running through the airport to my gate, however, I miss my connecting flight by just two minutes. Two minutes! Others weren’t so lucky though.

So they book me on standby on the next two connecting flights just in case, and I am offered lunch on the airport.

While waiting, I befriend eighty-something-year-old Elizabeth, who had been waiting five hours and is worried she will not even get on the next flight. She tells me she had been visiting her daughter in Los Angeles but is worried about arriving back home in New York late and past midnight. My heart goes out to her but there’s really nothing anyone can do. It’s just the system.

As luck would have it, my name is called and they have a seat for me on the next flight; Elizabeth unfortunately, is not so lucky. Hmm.

Upon arrival in New York, I am greeted by Raoul who arranges a ride for me to my hotel. On the drive over, Raoul starts pointing out little landmarks around the city; the driver jokes about it not really being my first time here given I’m giving them directions on how to get around the city. We laugh good-naturedly at this.

And en route to the hotel, there I spot her, Empire State Building, all lit up in her glory against the indigo sky and New York’s night cityscape.

By the time I arrive at the hotel, it is close to midnight; and even though I am in the city that never sleeps, after almost thirty hours of traveling and hardly any sleep, even I am exhausted.

Hello New York, goodnight.

Stay tuned for more,

Text and image: Nina Mostafa

Copyright © TheAustralien 2012