Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On "Top" Of The World.

Okhayi (and that was the typical American accent I am trying to mimic these days), this would be the final, and the most exciting post about my first flight.

Mumbai onward, I was horrified to find a seat by the aisle. The traveling agent must have screwed up things big time despite my specific instructions that I have never seen a take off in broad daylight and wanted a window seat. And with the crowd out there, I didn't think I'd be lucky enough to get a seat by the window.

It seemed God had made some “air-tight” plans about my fellow passengers. On my right were those 3 seats I so really wanted with a happy South Indian family of husband, wife, and kid. So all I could hear at my right was the howling of the kid who deemed it fit to use his freedom of expression at the apt moment when the plane just took off. This resulted in tremendous chaos, followed by a flurry of Tamil conversations (or Kannada maybe), followed by total mess of the place during their constant eating sessions.

On my right were an old man, another old man, and an old woman. I might as well have been sitting besides a bunch of aliens who could do something better than sleep for most of the flight. This old man besides me soon blindfolded himself and went off to sleep. Breakfast later, the South Indian couple also went off to sleep, making me wonder why they needed a window seat when sleeping was their only priority. I didn't believe it that I was supposed to spend the next 22 hours this way, looking at the fellow passengers hogging and snoring besides me. Eventually the old man woke up and tried starting up a conversation. Initially they were short questions to which I nodded a simple yes or a no. I was not really interested in striking up a conversation with him. I told him how it was my first time on the plane and I wanted a seat by the window but had to end up there. And he kept explaining me how it’d have made more sense to fly to Chicago instead of taking the LA route. God, why couldn’t someone mix some sleeping pills in his food?

Soon, an air hostess came and politely asked him if he would like to shift upstairs, to which he smiled back and left. Good for me, I finally got rid of the seat divider (or whatever it is called), kicked off my shoes, took his blankets and pillows as well, got in an embryonic position, and went to sleep in those two seats much to the jealousy of the other people who were cramped in one. You don’t give me a window seat, and I show you how I pay for one ticket and manage two seats instead.

So I slept for God knows how long, but was awakened by someone. Groggily, I woke up and squinted at the perpetrator to find that he was the same old man. I started to get up.

Hey no, I don’t want to get in. Come with me.

Uhh?,
I still didn’t think I understood.

Come with me lady.

Err…. Where? Are you a kidnapper or hijacker?
 I wanted to ask.

Hey, don’t bother putting on your shoes. Leave them like that.

Uhh… so the kidnapper was a shoe thief too?

So I was woken out of my slumber to be carried away to god-knows-where by this old man who didn’t let me wear my shoes. We climbed up the stairs and walked through the business class area. Man, what opulence these people lived in while we middle class people cramped ourselves. Suddenly the business class seemed a proper plane to me and the economy class more like a local train. Must be the old man wanted to show me how rich people traveled. But wait, wasn’t he walking past the business class area?

Come in. He opened a tiny door and motioned to me. I was still confused about his intentions.

You wouldn’t believe, the old man took me to the cockpit and got me introduced to the pilots.

This lady is on her first flight and didn’t get a window seat. So I thought I would show her around.

The co-pilot vacated his seat and motioned me to take it. I was dumbstruck, still unable to come out of shock. I looked at the old man helplessly.

He smiled at me and told me that he was a retired pilot and these were his friends. So while I was sleeping, he was here and asked his pals if it would be okay for me to come up for a while. To which they agreed. Initial introductions made, they went back to chat.

I stuck my nose to the windows again, and man, what a sight. The pilot told me that we were flying over Istanbul, and were soon to cross the Black Sea. My first reaction on seeing down was, “But why are we moving so slowly?” It seemed to me that we were flying over some huge playground at a very slow speed. Common sense prevailed when I realized that it wasn’t a huge playground I was seeing. Below me were hundreds of miles of desert stretching endlessly, and the slowness only seemed because we were almost 11,000 m above the ground. And wherever I saw, I saw sand with occasional patches of something gleaming. Those must have been some kind of rocks shining when sunlight fell on them. And then I saw small tributaries and distributaries of water bodies that meandered about and seemed as thin as hair. Before me was history spread out where thousands of years ago, people had invaded, kings had ruled and civilizations had thrived and perished. In front of me were endless stretches of clouds we were piercing through. We crossed the mountains as if we were crossing mounds of sand dunes.

The pilot explained to me the basic functioning of systems. I was amazed to find that he did nothing, just listened to some instructions, did and undid a few knobs and chatted with us. You wouldn’t believe that he was controlling a plane, a real huge airplane, and hundreds of people below were sleeping peacefully. I saw no steering wheel, no nothing. How was I to know how planes flew? Occasionally he would control a few buttons, and that’s it. There were thousands of knobs and switches over his head, with lights blinking. It seemed more like a spaceship to me. And the pilot seemed as if he was playing some video game on the computer.

So for one full hour, I was allowed to sit besides him and absorb in the sights around me. And like a child marveling at everything on his first visit to the science park, I kept looking at the switches, the machinery, and the sights around me.

When I came back, I just looked at the people still asleep or watching a movie and smiled silently. You’ll never know the sight you just missed buddy.

Yeah, ask me how does it feel to be on top of the world. One of the sights I would never forget even when I am too old to blog. I wondered how many were lucky enough to spend an hour in the cockpit, and that too on their first trip. Trust me, even a hundred good looking men sitting next to me couldn't have matched up to the sight I'd just seen there.

sunshine.

24 comments:

Sudhir said...

First of all Wellcome to USA.. NExt.. man u are lucky... In this age when even walking towards Cockpit can get u in trouble u sat in it for an hour.. That must be amazing...:) Great post.. Good.. That is some experience...

Enjoy...

Ginni said...

AWESOME!!!!!!!!! U r one lucky lady..

Adarsh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adarsh said...

Pay-off they did.... and how !!!
too muchh .... I mean... TOO MUCHH !!!
BTW how many cocnuts did you offer and in which temple.... me too will do the same(hopefully)

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

WHAT!!!!

WHAT!! WHAT!! :O :O :O

Oh My God!! Lady, you make me perfectly jealous... believe me, perfectly!!

Looks like the 'lucky' thing is infectious!! :D

chaos said...

That must really have been an awesome expereince sunshine.....:))...Woah...and how so very nice of the old uncle.

SH D said...

Lucky you!
Take care!

Anonymous said...

Really on "Top of world"..
With stinky shoes ;)

Scorpion King

Anonymous said...

Hey sunshine, Congrats on your first air journey,which was so eventful!you ought to be really lucky to to get inside the cockpit.
I have been reading your posts for quite sometime.
You write very well!

Anonymous said...

please post soon on ur post-landing experiances.
I'm waiting eagerly

tetracyclops said...

okhayi, thats good! ;-)

syrals said...

Oh My Goood...that coconuts really paid off...u r really fortunate Sunshine...3 cheers to u and that old uncle...hip hip hurray!
:)

Inder said...

lucky you *fuming with jealousy*
next time i board a plane, i will remember to offer coconuts to every god i know.

Duhita said...

I'm so jealous! But glad your first flight will always be memorable:)

Wanderer said...

Awesome ...
Do i envy you ?!!!!!!!!

That is a DREAM VIEW u were talikng about ...
that was nice old gentle man that u met ..

Lucky u ...

;)

All the best ... for your future endeavors


PS: Me running off to buy coconuts .. ;)

Deeps said...

God!! I'm so so jealous of you :-p. Mummy, I want to see the cockpit of an international flight :((. And to think you were scolding the poor old nice guy :-p. Not fair!!

shekhar said...

Fabulous !!! Great going...

You have no idea how thrilling the 'plane series' (as you fondly refer to it) has been for me. The posts give me shivers of excitement. :)

Virgo Guy said...

Wow !!!

Di said...

r u kiddin!!!!!! tht was soo....well...WOW!! :O

Swati Hasbe said...

Thats awesome, very well written I almost remembered my first time travelling!!!

Abhi said...

Holy cow ! Holy bull ! Holy goat ! Tune to ek jhatke mein hee meri barso ke flying experience ki dhajjiyan udaa dee yar. That was totally awesome !

Anonymous said...

Okhayi,
blessed one indeed ... wish u equally good suprises all the way ...
and yeah !!! ... one open surprise is not just accent but the skeleton of english ...

ME !!! ...

Anonymous said...

hey....that was great...i read your blogs daily and please dont change it....let it be the same.....all the best

lifeizlikethat said...

Never got a chance to read this one, although had read that coconut post..Almost 4 years late.... but still WOWWW!! You are one lucky lady..