Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.
This week, we reached out to Ross OC Jennings, a 27-year-old piper making his way around the world with his bagpipes and kilt. Ross is on a mission to play the bagpipes in every country in the world — a journey that comes with its fair share of hours on the road. Today, he discusses the entertainment he turns to during travel’s quieter moments.
In 2014 I decided to pack up my life in London and embark on an adventure to play the bagpipes in every country of the world. The decision was pretty liberating, but handing in my notice was terrifying, and at times I question what on Earth I’ve gotten myself into!
The day I decided to pack it all up was a busy Saturday in London and one of my lasting memories is having this song come on the radio. Positive, upbeat, and full of gratifying lyrics from lead singer Dan Reynolds, this Imagine Dragons classic is just about everything I look for in a song. It’s an ode to the struggle for recognition and celebration of achievement, and it makes me buzz with excitement every time I turn it on. Clichéd? Absolutely. But I often find having this tune on hand is a great way to remind myself why I’m on this adventure. As soon as I switch it on, I’m absolutely beaming!
Far from a fictional classic, “Habit” is an expert collection of research, providing an insightful understanding of our habits and how we can change them. I admit that sounds a little heavy, but there are enough real-life anecdotes to make it palatable. It’s truly the only book I’ve gone back to read time and time again.
Learning about how we function is pretty useful. I’ve been self-employed for a few years now, and I’m always looking to streamline how I work. Despite my initial disinterest in the book, I broke it out and committed to the first few chapters during a long transit in Dubai last year. The explanation behind how our minds turn processes into habits was pretty eye-opening. Whenever I have a lull in my adventures, I dip into a chapter to refresh a particular point — it’s definitely become a bit of a habit!
Last year, on a flight from Shanghai to London, I flicked open the entertainment brochure to see that “Queen of Katwe” was on. It was the first and only film I watched on that flight because I was enthralled by everything it threw at me. Set in Kampala’s Katwe slum, this classic underdog story follows the rise of Africa’s first female chess grand-master. It’s a little predictable at times — it is a Disney film after all — but from the get-go, it’s a delight to watch.
Having a movie set in Africa that isn’t about conflict is as refreshing as it is anomalous, but I didn’t expect to get so teary. At one point, a member of the cabin crew leaned in, tapped me on the shoulder, and asked if I wanted a cup of tea I hadn’t realized I looked quite so distraught, but I sobbed a “yes” in response and was quickly delivered a milky brew. Now, whenever I’m on a flight that’s playing “Queen of Katwe,” I’ll flick through to my favorite scenes or just listen to the beautiful score.