Sara Namusoga poses for a photo outside the CNN Centre
in Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, July 24, 2015
By Sara Namusoga
If there was ever a time and place where I witnessed the fast pace of American life, it was during the trip to Atlanta, Georgia. First, although our flight was initially delayed by almost three hours, when we got onto that plane, there was no turning back. I cannot tell how high we were flying but for sure it was faster than usual. When we left Port Columbus International Airport at 4.33 p.m., the pilot announced that we would be arriving at 6.20 p.m. A few minutes into the flight, he announced, “Our expected time of arrival is 5.55 p.m.”! And 5.55 it was!
And then came the train to the domestic baggage area where we were supposed to pick our baggage upon arrival. It’s as if the doors open for just five seconds for passengers to disembark and jump on. Immediately the doors close, the announcer informs those on board that the train is about to start moving and that they should hold onto the rails and ensure they are safe. The train starts to move as this announcement is being made. No sooner has the train started moving than the next stop is announced. This is followed by another announcement that the train is about to stop. The same thing happened on the train to the car rental area as well. It appeared to me that the only thing that was slow was the escalator!
The minute we got onto the road, the madness started. And I started to miss Athens, Ohio immediately. The traffic jam coupled with the fast moving traffic, led to my first impression of Atlanta: A speed city! I enjoyed the ride by Dr. Yusuf Kalyango Jr. He was our very own tour guide. But because of the fast speed at which we were driving, I was unable to see most of the places he mentioned. However, I want to imagine that Anna’s camera kept up with the speed because she kept snapping away.
For the first time since I arrived in the United States, I had to run across the road in a bid to find dinner after a long day. Even on day two of my stay in Atlanta, I still have not found the pedestrian crossing accessible from our hotel. What I can say however, is that when the traffic starts moving, there is no stopping. In fact, at one of the junctions just outside the hotel, is a traffic policeman to help direct the traffic. Again, the first time I was seeing one since I landed in the U.S.
The climax of this speed madness came during the tour of the CNN Centre! At CNN, we were ushered into the concierge area where we also received our visitors’ cards. I have known for sometime now that plastic cards can be printed instantly but this happened too fast. As soon as my picture was taken and my name entered into the computer, all I had to do was wait a few seconds and voila! I had my card, complete with my name and institution and the person in charge of the visit at CNN. The chat we had with Spurge Smith, International Assignments editor was quite informative. But time went by so fast as well.
Perhaps because I was in awe the whole time we went around the studios, newsrooms, control rooms, name it, it felt like we had only just began our tour when it ended. Moreover, as Inna pointed out after the tour, the security had not been as tight as we had anticipated. To this, the gentleman in charge of our visit responded, “We trust the security checks carried out by the Department of State and that of Homeland security!”
Ummm… I want more of Atlanta, but I also miss Athens, where everything is laid back and the city belongs to you and you to the city!