Map mysteries

Guessing game: What do the following places have in common?

  • Aberdeen
  • Chengdu
  • Surabaya
  • Antananarivo
  • Kilimanjaro
  • Hyderabad
  • Calgary
  • Ottawa

Over the past few years I have travelled quite a lot to and from Asia with Qatar Airways. Since I very rarely relax, let alone sleep, when I’m in the air I look around and observe insignificant, or significant?, little things, such as the map that is shown on the screen in front of you as part of the so called inflight entertainment. The places listed above are the only ones that appear on it when the whole world is shown. This has been the case on all the flights. Why? Does anybody know? I certainly don’t.

Note that there is only one European city, Aberdeen. Why not Groningen, Uppsala, Pisa or Dijon, if for some reason you want the map to feature a small to medium-sized city with a university? Asia is represented by  Chengdu, Surabaya and Hyderabad. Why didn’t they choose, for instance, Zhengzhou, Yogyakarta or Mysore? And how come there is nothing at all in South America? Because I was on flights to and from Asian destinations perhaps? But why then would Calgary and Ottawa figure on the list? Many questions arise.

Maybe these places are meant as travel tips? Of the places on the list I have been only to Chengdu, a city I remember for its sky, covered by impenetrable haze, and a memorable stop at a food stall where I tried to order local specialties for dinner. A very friendly Ukraine student noticed that I could do with some help in making myself understood. She was in Chengdu to study Chinese and judging from the tasty meal I got, she was doing very well.

In fact I have also been at the Surabaya airport once, to catch a flight to Lombok. That left no particular memories, apart from the fact that the airline had forgotten to communicate that the flight would leave one hour earlier than stated in the confirmation mail. No problem, my guide had seen to it that I was at the check-in counter very early also by my standards. I’m usually ridiculously early, in other people’s eyes, for all departures, be it planes or trains.

The photos have nothing to do with any of the places mentioned, nor with flights to or from Asia. In fact they show Botswana from above. But they do illustrate air travel!