Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time to fly? Sigh!

I was four when I stepped into an airplane for the first time. I was allowed to wander down the aisle, collide into the stewardesses who loaded my fists with candy, and basically smile benignly at all the passengers as if they were attending a feast thrown in my honour. I remember thinking back then that I should do this kind of thing more often and flying is the best thrill of life.

Fast forward sixteen years and you have a different me. One who steps out of the plane and looks upward in silent prayer that she's landed on solid ground. Whose knees are actually shaking (not because the pilot is cute) but because she is finally out of the big bird of the skies. I have 3 weeks of fun and sun to look forward to, but at some teeny tiny corner in my brain, I'm dreading the flight back! What makes me think like that, you ask? Here begins my 'adventure in air' (like those Famous Five books...except mine was not all that adventurous, but for my decidedly boring life, I'd like to call it that, thanks very much.)

1) I enter the airport two hours early, misjudging the distance between the airport and my college (which is only 10 minutes, but I conclude that it is halfway across the universe.) I check in, complete security check and rush towards the McDonalds counter gleefully to grab myself a humongous glass of Iced Tea to last me the wait.
2) I meet a kindred spirit who is also going home and we indulge in a lengthy conversation about everything and beyond. (I asked her name about an hour after we chat!) My flight is now boarding and I step into the plane.
3) It's a new airplane and there are screens in every seat. My antiseptic alter-ego makes me use my iPod headphones instead of the ones they provide. So ear infection has successfully been prevented. The flight takes off and I settle down to watch some weird movie involving a camera that sees the future. (It was called Aa Dekhen Zara, something I figured out when the credits were rolling and the title track came on at the end!)
4) The food is served, I devour the chocolate brownie, spinach quiche and indistinguishable paneer and check the time- around two hours to go, I realise, and look out - the fright begins then.
5) It is considerably dark outside, and the sun is melting slowly into the sea of sky. The aircraft wing lights are blinking in rhythm and the flight cruises on the blanket of clouds.
6) Suddenly, I feel the bumps. What begins as a harmless thud escalates into positive bumping, like the plane is riding on the Gurgaon road filled with potholes. The pilot switches on the seatbelt sign and the stewardess screams in the PA about not getting up from the seats. At one point, she actually screams 'Get back to your seat MAAM and don't get out until I SAY SO!' (she sounds exactly like a hijacker and I begin to wonder if they learn these dialogues from them.)
7)I distract myself and look outside the window. Big Mistake. I can see the sky lighting up every couple of seconds. Lightning, it suddenly strikes me! (Not the actual lightning, but the thought.) I see it stab the clouds viciously every few seconds, inching closer and closer to the aircraft. I look around frantically if anyone has noticed it - everyone is so engrossed seeing Bipasha Basu gyrating in a sleazy Thai pub, that they apparently don't deem it necessary to write out their last wishes (which might never be found anyway, so they have a point.)
8) As the flight trembles more violently, I wonder if it's a good time to listen to that devotional channel in the aircraft audio and bribe god to make us land carefully. I look out again, the lightning becomes brighter and closer. I wonder if I should try and salvage my original certificates and passport from that overhead cabin while jumping out of the plane. I wonder when the stewardess will instruct the emergency exit passengers to 'co-operate' and open the doors in mid-air.
9) The flight stops trembling and swoops down, as if to attack it's prey. I cautiously look out again, and this time I see an iridescent city glowing below me. The lighting has passed, so have the clouds, and all that remains is the city below the aircraft. I wonder if he's making an emergency landing in some other city.
10) It turns out that we've finally reached our destination, and as the flight touches the runway, the breaks come on at full speed but the flight just goes on and on....the airport passes us (or we pass it) and the flight still refuses to stop. (The aeromaniac in me tells me that we might have skid on the wet runway and will end up overshooting it). It finally stops thunderously close to the boundary wall and I hear a collective sigh of relief. It turns out everyone on the flight has been just as paranoid.

I've flown a dozen times this year alone, and this has GOT the be the worst flight ever. Blame it on the weather, or the grudging pilots (incidentally, the airline I flew is on an indefinite strike since yesterday!) or my aeromania, but in three weeks I'll have to fly again. Sigh.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The owl finally hooted!

Ooh! This is my 50th blog post! Yay! (For a lazy journalism student who should, technically have crossed this milestone years IS a big achievement OK?) So anyway, it is a ripe afternoon as I write laptop tells me the time is 12.12...and it gets me thinking of the bewitching midnight hour...

For all you guys who know me, I'm the goody goody thing who goes to sleep at 10 every night and wakes up bright and cheery every morning...sometimes trying to give the rising sun an inferiority complex! But circumstances have spoilt me! The sun seems to overtake me these days and I seem to overtake the moon! In less complicated words, I now know what the world looks like past bedtime thanks to insomniac friends, messenger (if my fingers cramp due to excessive typing and I walk around with bandaged hands, I'll have a lot to say to you Sneh!) , lots of assignments and just dull boredom (which completely evaporates the moment I decide to stay online!)

Remember in childhood, when you would be given special permission to stay up late and greet a visiting relative from abroad (since they ALWAYS choose to fly in at unearthly hours) or even stay up on a weekend to watch an entire movie on the TV? Those were rare privileges that I treasured....and was filled with awe that Mr.Night is letting me stay up and watch him ageing! That soon gave way to slumber parties where no one knew when it was night and when it was day! We'd just stay up all the time....and watch the hours melt into one another! :-)

Even on birthdays, I've always been the weirdo who calls up early in the morning to wish the disgruntled birthday baby with a nauseous cheery greeting! I've never been the midnight wisher, simply thinking that they would hate to be disturbed in the middle of their deep sleep by that nauseous greeting! Conversely I have always threatened to kill people in cold blood if they dared give me even a missed call on my birthday! But this year changed all that.....not only did I stay up ALL night (Thanks, you guys...if you'd told me you'd be gate-crashing to give me a surprise, I'd have worn more decent nightclothes and not be embarrassed to put the pics up on FB!). I cut a cake, two dessert pizzas, painted a T shirt, ate chips...and received calls...things I would ordinarily do in my dreams every birthday! The freezing party on my terrace really showed me what it's like to stay up all night on your birthday!

And Google, of course....we stayed on the terrace one entire night just to catch the sunrise! And then trooped off to bed early mornings....our nocturnal instincts were so sharp back then....I don't think I've ever stayed so alert at 1 in the night to play Musical Chairs! I think that's the reason why after I got back home, my mom kept shooing me away when I would eagerly plan the 'night's' agenda....I had lost any sense of day or night and would be irritatingly active only at night! It took me a few bleary eyed moments (and sharp glares from teachers as I stifled yawn after yawn) in Literature class to realise that days would be days and I'd have to straighten my biological clock!

Since then, I've been back on schedule....sleeping early and waking early...but now suddenly everything has become Topsy Turvy all over again! I seem to sleep way after my laptop clock warns me it's 00:00. I seem to sleep en route to college and yawn throughout the day...but when nighttime strikes again, I seem to be up for a roller coaster ride! Really, somethings happened and my clock has taken a hike....the lark has decided to call it a day and the owl has finally hooted!