There’s a broken flap on the baggage conveyor belt at three airports. I’m convinced it’s the same flap and that someone with little else to do is playing an international prank on me and moving this irritatingly torn chunk of rubber around the world just before I arrive at a destination. So far this year I have seen it at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Venice Marco Polo Airport and San Francisco International Airport. This particular piece of rubber is shaped like all the others except that it has a three-inch tear halfway along its thinnest edge. The tear is so important because it catches on the metal edge of the mysterious metal hole from which bags emerge, thousands of miles from where you handed them away. The tear catches, alarm bells ring because the hypochondriac security system thinks someone is trying to jump through the hole into the mythical bag world beyond. And the whole thing screeches to a halt. y childhood has been smeared across Southeast Asia, sub-continental India and Western Europe, with the odd American and Australian adventure thrown in. I’ve lived in four cities on three continents, flew before I could walk and have accumulated so much jetlag that I may be negative years old. The significance of air travel is that it made my sub-species possible. Before planes, the road warriors of the East India Company and the emissaries of faraway nations endured month-long voyages. Britons grew up in Calcutta, children of the Empire, but they did not live astride continents as I did. But the plane came and the diplomat’s commute shrank. Then David Ricardo’s ideas about international trade became important, foreign exchange markets opened up and international finance was born. Suddenly, air travel came into vogue as the elite professional’s occupational hazard. But as elite professionals tend to do, these new jetsetters had families. They didn’t stop racing around the planet though, taking with them wives and children, creating a global class that met in airport precious-metal lounges. And so emerged the third-culture kid, a one-size-fits-all term for the homeless among us who grew up bouncing around the globe. There are a fair number of us at Georgetown. Many gravitate toward the School of Foreign Service, either following the path of diplomat parents or because we grew up looking out of plastic ovals at frozen jet fuel streaks wondering what country was down there and just how many kids at the local international school would know our friends. At Georgetown we don’t necessarily self-identify. While some of us come from majority ethnic and racial groups, many of us don’t: the product of a meritocratic professional world that doesn’t have time for the inefficiency of prejudice. To be a third-culture kid means yet another minority tag – and identity is already complicated enough for us. So we enjoy the here and now, we indulge in the power of telling tales from halfway around the world, in calling flights over the Pacific “the back way round,” in enjoying the wide horizons our parents’ careers have bestowed upon us. We’re very ambitious, and proud. But we know that our time in any one place is limited, and we’ve seen enough final goodbyes to know that “now” doesn’t last. Making the most of it isn’t a philosophical concept, it’s a necessity. So we achieve a lot quickly, and then we move both out of habit and compulsion. It’s an odd lifestyle, one that can feel very cold and lonely. But as that broken flap on the baggage conveyor belt serves to remind me every time I show up at some distant port city, this is one planet, and the entire rock is home. Udayan Tripathi is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached tripathithehoya.com. History Never Repeats Itself appears every other Monday at www.thehoya.com. *To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*

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There’s a broken flap on the baggage conveyor belt at three airports. I’m convinced it’s the same flap and that someone with little else to do is playing an international prank on me and moving this irritatingly torn chunk of rubber around the world just before I arrive at a destination. So far this year I have seen it at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Venice Marco Polo Airport and San Francisco International Airport. This particular piece of rubber is shaped like all the others except that it has a three-inch tear halfway along its thinnest edge. The tear is so important because it catches on the metal edge of the mysterious metal hole from which bags emerge, thousands of miles from where you handed them away. The tear catches, alarm bells ring because the hypochondriac security system thinks someone is trying to jump through the hole into the mythical bag world beyond. And the whole thing screeches to a halt. y childhood has been smeared across Southeast Asia, sub-continental India and Western Europe, with the odd American and Australian adventure thrown in. I’ve lived in four cities on three continents, flew before I could walk and have accumulated so much jetlag that I may be negative years old. The significance of air travel is that it made my sub-species possible. Before planes, the road warriors of the East India Company and the emissaries of faraway nations endured month-long voyages. Britons grew up in Calcutta, children of the Empire, but they did not live astride continents as I did. But the plane came and the diplomat’s commute shrank. Then David Ricardo’s ideas about international trade became important, foreign exchange markets opened up and international finance was born. Suddenly, air travel came into vogue as the elite professional’s occupational hazard. But as elite professionals tend to do, these new jetsetters had families. They didn’t stop racing around the planet though, taking with them wives and children, creating a global class that met in airport precious-metal lounges. And so emerged the third-culture kid, a one-size-fits-all term for the homeless among us who grew up bouncing around the globe. There are a fair number of us at Georgetown. Many gravitate toward the School of Foreign Service, either following the path of diplomat parents or because we grew up looking out of plastic ovals at frozen jet fuel streaks wondering what country was down there and just how many kids at the local international school would know our friends. At Georgetown we don’t necessarily self-identify. While some of us come from majority ethnic and racial groups, many of us don’t: the product of a meritocratic professional world that doesn’t have time for the inefficiency of prejudice. To be a third-culture kid means yet another minority tag – and identity is already complicated enough for us. So we enjoy the here and now, we indulge in the power of telling tales from halfway around the world, in calling flights over the Pacific “the back way round,” in enjoying the wide horizons our parents’ careers have bestowed upon us. We’re very ambitious, and proud. But we know that our time in any one place is limited, and we’ve seen enough final goodbyes to know that “now” doesn’t last. Making the most of it isn’t a philosophical concept, it’s a necessity. So we achieve a lot quickly, and then we move both out of habit and compulsion. It’s an odd lifestyle, one that can feel very cold and lonely. But as that broken flap on the baggage conveyor belt serves to remind me every time I show up at some distant port city, this is one planet, and the entire rock is home. Udayan Tripathi is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached tripathithehoya.com. History Never Repeats Itself appears every other Monday at www.thehoya.com. *To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.