If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

May 13, 2009

The Joy of Flying

You get onto the plane. The erstwhile air hostess, now cabin crew welcome you on board. Plastic smile that you could make a bisleri bottle out of. But the smile cant be anything but, when you think of how often it has to be called upon. The hustle to have your hand baggage in an overhead locker as close to your seat as possible. It’s the storage of first aid kits and extra blankets that destroys the each one take one symmetry. The doors bolt and you wait. The announcements begin that the first time fliers follow avidly. The regular fliers ignore. And the second time fliers try and look like they’re ignoring but follow to make sure that if this plane becomes a boat they know what to do. Drill in school would have had us following it more closely if we had a movie of Yana Gupta showing us what to do rather than Mr. Pandey or Mr. Tamhane at PT. Even they would have followed it more closely than they did themselves. Seat belts are retrieved from below seats and butts. The cabin crew inspect you and pronounce you of sound seat beltedness and therefore certified to fly. Seat upright. Why do they do that ? Does the plane fly slower when the seats recline ? Or do does the force of gravity increase ? Or does the balance get put off if some of the seats on the left aisle recline while the ones on the right don’t ? You taxi to the start of the runway and wait. While the plane starts shuddering with enough force to work the rivets of the control tower loose. And its on your marks get set go. To that magic moment when you become one with the Gods. Hermes, Hanuman, Dirona here we come. You crane over the person in the window seat. You can see the Searock Hotel. So working backwards down what must be Hill road you can almost see home before the plane turns and you have the open sea before you. Bandra did look exactly like it does on Google Earth. Not as clear though. Maybe they photoshop the satellite image. The seat belt sign goes off with an announcement requesting you to keep it on. Was the guy whos making a beeline for the loo nervous ? Or to many beers at lunch ? But he cant get in until the crew use a ball pen to slide open the door lock. Does he normally stand with his legs crossed ? The newspaper and the evacuation card in the pocket in front of you compete with the inflight magazine. The inflght magazine wins. Why do BMW advertise their 7 series here and not in the Bandra Star ? That’s rhetorical. But the travel articles make even Dharavi look glamourous. The food trolley comes around. Veg or non veg. To a catholic from Bandra with a cross tattooed on his thumb, you have to ask ? So on the postage stamp in front of you , you lay out you starter, main course dessert, water, paper cruet set, pickle, knife fork spoon, coffee cup, stirrer for said coffee cup, napkin [ yes we say napkin not tissue. Tissue is what you cut into for a biopsy. ] water bottle, dessert and the white gloved maitre de who will assist you. The foil that covers all has you wondering where to put it as you unravel it to reveal Non-Veg.
The Brahmin with caste marks on his forhead in the seat next to you is trying to climb onto the wing. While holding both his ears and not breathe in any vapor of your Non-Veg. Ha! He put the shade down when you wanted to see wheter the clouds were cumulus or sirrius. Justice is here and now. The pickle and salt and pepper and aniseed [ ok badi shape ] you keep to give the kids to play house-house with when you get home. The food trolley comes around once more. No seconds. Just empties. They’re in a hurry. Estimated landing time is in fifteen minutes. The toilets are locked once more with the pressed into service ball point pen. The crew come around corrected the imbalance caused by reclining seats . Trays up, seat belts on. The only constant has been the no smoking sign. This is your Captain speaking. … blah blah blah. The Kenny G music comes back on. Do they give Kenny his due royalties. If all the elevators and all the planes and all the super markets that played his music paid him he’d probably be richer than the Sultan of Brunei. And it’s a touchdown. Shake rattle and roll. How do the wings stay fixed onto the plane ? You’ve seen scooter side cars detach themselves with less vibration. And sidecars have the ground for support. But the wings stay on and the plane taxis to the terminal. The cell phones start going off. Twitter has nothing on this. The seat belt sign is ignored. The cabin crew is’nt even trying to protest. You leave behind the newspaper and the evacuation instruction card. The inflight magazine you put into your bag [ surreptiously, you don’t know if you’re allowed to take it for free ]because you need more time to decide whether it’s going to be the 7 series Beamer or the string of pearls from Cartier. In front of you is the whole trip and the flight back and the rickshaw ride home,which should give you enough time to decide.