The first experiences however pleasurable they seem, come with their share of pain. My first experience of flying in an aeroplane was somewhat similar.
Just like sex, I was looking forward to it. The tickets were booked. The mind was hooked. Yes, I’m rhyming! The feeling back then was such. I began digging deep into the experiences of flying. How is it for the first time? Many regular flyers told me it was routine, others scared me by saying it will make you puke and would make you get off the aeropalne. Within this perplexity, the common thread was that of the ears getting shut and paining. The degree of that pain varied from person to person. Some suggested have loads of water, some suggested ear plugs, while the brave professed to simply let it be.
After a million opinions and reassurance after reassurance the day finally arrived. It was a breezy winter evening. My destination – the capital of the country! Like all secret missions, with a bunch of lies and false stories floating around, I was embarking on this adventure all alone. My excitement reached me two hours before the flight, an hour earlier than expected. The ticket was collected, the security check cleared. The waiting lounge was like an era from yore – slow and refusing to gallop ahead. The flight was delayed due to congestion – 30 mins to be precise. However, the wait was finally over. The weird bus with no seats drove me towards my first flight. ‘Jet Lite’ I was blessed with or rather cursed with. More on this later…
So here I was seated, waiting for the flight to elevate in 5 minutes. My association with music is a bit odd. I let it drive emotions. As I was shuffling through my playlist to meet the perfect song for take-off, an old businessman settled down next to me, he took the aisle seat. There was no one seated next to me. All were a tad bit annoyed with the flight running late. I had narrowed down to Du Hast from Ramstein for the take off. The flight set in motion; I fastened my seat belt and looked forward to the adrenaline rush fated to meet me. My excitement found its first blow when the captain announced the flight is delayed because of runway congestion. His 10 mins delay promise found a 50 minute buffer and the flight finally took off late in the night. My excitement had died down by now and the mp3 player fitted Viva La Vida in the groove. And thus, Coldplay kept me company for my first ever take off. The adrenaline did pump and as we left the ground, my mind too went into other space. The shut ears didn’t bother me. The sheer sight of yellow lit Bombay fading away into the darkness was memorable to say the least. The seat belt came off. My mp3 player shut. My book, open! As I settled into the book, the flight settled into its own. The passengers were relaxed and as it was well past dinner time, the food trays were already out. I did not have any, as I wasn’t hungry. The businessman on the other hand was stuffing himself with a vegetarian combo, while dumping the remains on the seat that rested between us. The plane was steady now, free of any turbulence. I was halfway there. I had stepped out of my flight fascination and was looking forward to seeing my girl at the airport. It had been months since I had seen her, and now I was just an hour away. I had these visions in my head, what would I do once I see her? Hug her or kiss her in front of everyone? I was bending towards the latter. My excitement got its second blow when the captain spoke, “Dear passengers, we are sorry for the inconvenience, but the fog encircling over Delhi Airport has hindered visibility and therefore the plane will hover around for 30 minutes before we land”. Those 30 minutes seemed like hours, although I gathered patience and told myself that it’s just 30 more minutes. When those 30 minutes were over, the captain informed us that it was impossible to land in Delhi and therefore we will land in Jaipur. I freaked out at that moment. My first flight had taken a detour and was landing me in another city. And I had no one to contact but her. But for that too, I had to wait until I land at Jaipur. Questions and allegations were flying left, right and center! “What now? Do we get a connecting flight? If yes, then when? If no, then what?” Some were demanding for refund, others were demanding for accommodation. But many like me were just waiting for a rational solution out of it. After a lot of resistance from passengers to alight the flight, finally all got down. The solution thereon was a so-called luxury bus would drop us at Delhi Airport – The time required – 6 freaking hours.
My excitement like my body had resigned. Between short naps and freezing cold, I reached Delhi. As soon as I got down, my sweetheart was standing there, looking as gorgeous as ever.
What followed was 3 days of bliss.
Here is the trip: http://www.travelwell.in/blog/index.php/2010/05/secrets-from-the-north/
The trip as promised turned out to be quite breathtaking. But then the trip back to Bombay was equally bad if not worse.
I waved my girl goodbye and walked inside the spanking airport of Delhi! I have to admit Delhi Airport is far far better as compared to Bombay. Be it the infrastructure, the processes, the organization, it was all well done.
I sat in the waiting lounge shifting between the book and the pictures I’d clicked. I was smiling to myself looking at the memories captured. When my boarding was about to begin, I was told that the weather conditions aren’t suitable for flying. The fog was playing demon again. I had a bad feeling about this, I somewhere knew I’ll be stranded for a couple of hours if not more. The weather had taken a drastic turn, wherein the visibility on the road had turned from bad to worse. One could not see anything beyond 2 feet. All flights were cancelled. By this time I had resigned already and just had to find a way to pass the night. My situation was bad as I knew no one in Delhi but her. I could have found a common friend somehow, but then no one knew that I had been absconding with my girl. So, times ahead looked dodgy. As I stood in line to get tickets for the next flight, I was informed that the immediate flight, early morning, was full, so, they hooked me up with a flight at noon the following day.
She called, sounding worried, justifiably. She said, she could only make it by morning. I had 10 hours to kill. And with no visibility and no contact, my situation was a little tough. But as luck had it, there was a 24 hour coffee shop outside the Airport. I had found my base camp. I rushed there before it could get worse and settled myself in the corner-most table! With black coffee and Amitav Ghosh for company, I told myself, I could more than do with this. As passengers walked in and walked out, I was experiencing one of my small wishes to spend the night reading in a cafe, albeit by chance and not choice. Sleep was knocking on the doors as the 8 hour drive from Shimla to Delhi had taken its toll on me. Around 4 am, I realized I had to go and collect my ticket. In hindsight, it was a wise decision not to immediately rush into the ticket counter and go only when the counter would be relatively empty. The winter chills, the increasing fog and dropping temperatures at 4 am; my clattering teeth were talking for what I was experiencing then. Back in the coffee shop, the sleep drug had hit me. I obliged and lied down. Sleep per se wasn’t embracing me, but it was providing me with short naps. The sun had glided through the fog and was bathing the window panes of the coffee shop. It was past 7. She called saying she was already on her way and would be there in an hour or so. I woke up, went to the Kohler decorated bathroom and freshened up. I treated myself to another coffee and waited for my girl to come and pick me up. She came dressed in a pretty pink sweater. She looked serene in the morning, like she did for the past 3 days. I kissed her good morning. It was a pleasant sight to see her. She looked beautiful in the morning.
We headed to a south Indian joint to eat something, as dinner had evaded me, I was starving. Whilst having breakfast, I received two notifications from the Spicejet helpdesk informing me that the plane will fly at 5 pm. The wait was a blessing in disguise as I got to spend one more day with her. After a sumptuous Italian lunch, she dropped me again at the airport. Finally, the plane did take off on time, and I was looking back on this helluva experience. While coming back, the heavens had their own way of making it up to me.
The plane elevated above the clouds and all I could see was the horizon, spread as far as my vision could go. The sun was setting. In a split second where the sun went down, it let out a bright spark that travelled across the horizon like a line igniting the sky orange. The clouds were suspended in midair with small pockets that gave a peek into the city below. The sight was unreal. Something that was much better than what I could ever imagine.
The flight was descending towards the airport now, and Bombay in its yellow lights and mountains and towers and lakes, looked nothing short of a Golden City of Egypt.
I got out and looked up at the sky. I smiled and said, “We should do this again, soon!”