On a clear spring late afternoon, a stop by the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad car, which is now on the edge of a bike path near Station Avenue in downtown Herndon, is really enjoyable. It provides a window into the past. As I watched the bricks on these old streets, images from the past magically appeared as real. I could imagine the trains pulling up at the old station few yards away with fine gentlemen and gorgeous ladies disembarking with exquisite etiquettes. Then from one corner horses came trotting with riders in finely tailored southern haberdashery. On the other end of the street, Union soldiers with muskets on their shoulders were emerging on the horizon. In between came a modern Tesla and not to be outsmarted a Maserati swooshed by. Magically the 19th century was meeting the 21st century almost bypassing the 20th century – perhaps because of the internet age that has put Herndon – once written off as a faraway suburb of Washington – at the center of the information age. Heading towards the Europa restaurant on Station Avenue in Herndon, a British Airways airplane caught my eye. On a clear spring day, one could visualize its flight path – momentarily passing over Chantilly and Manassas before landing on a runway on Dulles Airport nearby. From the window seat in this restaurant, one could see diners in the “Russia House” and “Zeffirelli” restaurants across the street. The sight of the fellow customers enjoying the ambiance made one feel like being in Europe again. While waiting for my better half, I flipped through the stored images of a recent travel on British Airways, which stirred a burning desire to hop on a flight. Pleasant memories of being greeted warmly by the British Airways cabin crew are a strong pull for beginning a journey – even it’s in just in my imagination. Twitter is often the companion of lonely fellows or maybe itchy fingers wanted to keep busy. Scrolling through the tweets helped whet the appetite not only for some European food but also diplomatic dialogue along with some travel stories to share. The waiter at Europa was just as smartly dressed as the British Airways crew and the mouthwatering dishes were soon going to put me in the window seat on cloud 9. As the Atlantic cod arrived on the table, it felt like the meal tray being placed on the British Airways A-380 plane, which seemed to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The coastlines of the British Isles were clearly visible through the windows. Soon afterwards from the aerial map, one could locate places like Brentwood, Slough and the cricket fields in Sussex. Zooming out a bit, Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Paris didn’t look that far – all the travel hotspots that British Airways planes have taken me in past travels. With each savoring bite of the meal in front of me came memories of the places visited on flights on British Airways. From my mind’s eye, I saw Ford cars coming off the assembly line and driven down the rolling roads in Brentwood.  In another instance, I was at the Paddington Railway Station onto the tracks of the Great Western Railway and chasing the history’s beaten paths only to realize that, like Herndon in the Virginia’s High Technology Corridor, Slough has become a hub for high technology entrepreneurship. Just then my magic carpet took me to my favorite spot at the Victoria Station and by a side entrance into the Grosvenor Hotel on Buckingham Palace Road. A glance across the street gave the feeling of being in the Business Lounge at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and seeing the sky scrapers of the beautiful city of London in the far horizon. That reminded me of the joyful ride to Frankfurt. After a whirlwind tour, meeting family and friends in the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, I was back on the plane rushing to meet my better half back again at the Grosvenor Hotel in London for the 37th Anniversary. With a cup of coffee in my hand, I was seeing Dover out in the distance on the coastline while crossing the Channel and humming “There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, Tomorrow, just you wait and see.” And when the Vera Lynn song was over in my mind, I found my better half was partially amused at my day dreaming i.e. travelling through the windows.

C. Naseer Ahmad
C. Naseer Ahmad is a contributor to Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.