Wednesday, 13 January 2010

B takes a flight

Now I know why we have little documentation of our past. Indians like me are essentially lazy. And we rather talk than write.

But since I am also noble with an eye to the future, I decided to overcome my laziness and document the life and times of Bhumika Anand that hasn’t been too bad in the past few months despite blog entries stating the contrary. You never know whom it will serve. I am very giving that way.

Ever played that game with yourself where you created stories from looking at people’s faces? Well, I think I’ve become a past master at that in the past two months. And I like my stories.

Because not doing that means getting bored out of your wits.

It turns out that travelling abroad via the Wright invention is as exciting as waiting indefinitely (in spite of having an appointment) at the doctor’s. Both experiences are fraught with anxiety and boredom in equal measures. And they are both extremely tedious. And you really are not encouraged to speak or laugh loudly in both places. No one tells you not to. It’s just like an unwritten rule. Again, not that there ever is anything to talk or laugh out loud about.

Fortunately, I did not meet any sort of creepy/cheap Indians that my friends often complain about encountering while on international flights. On the contrary, I thought I had ended up making new friends – the sort who come together during distress and trauma and stay together for life. Again, that was just me being absolutely na├»ve about people. But that’s a later post. And for the record, I did not meet the handsome stranger who would change my life forever either.

I didn’t know what to make of the newly-married/highly demonstrative couple next to me. We’ve discussed PDA on my blog before. But that was largely influenced by the then male protagonist in my life. In life as it is now, so completely devoid of drama of the stormy-emotion sort, I was quite baffled to learn that I’m quite a prude when it comes to watching people snog each other in my presence. I bet I take a completely different view when the smooching and the mooching are being done by me. I can’t help but feel that I’ve trespassed into someone else’s boudoir and the gate-crashing is not even a fun experience.

I was also aghast that the couple snogging next to me spoke in Kannada, said things my mom and dad (and I missed them terribly already) would say to each other – bag thongodiya? (did you take the bag?) and promptly settle down to rubbing each other’s cheeks prior to a full-on lip-smacker!

But they were sweet. The boy ordered me my whiskey on the rocks (well, not exactly, I ordered my own but he summoned the attendant for liquor first and ended up ordering a coke while I stuck to my desire to be the next best thing to spasmoed and ordered my usual whiskey on the rocks double) and the girl wanted to know the how-to and the what-to of the seat buttons. And I helped her. And never let on to anyone that I was travelling international for the first bloody blooming time in my life. Because as my friend Preethi says, when you follow the mob, you can’t go wrong.

So for anyone reading my blog and thinking of all the excitement of travelling abroad the first time, relax. It’s not worth being excited about.

And really, nothing ever makes up for the boredom – not even a Hindi movie. (And they are so much better than English as they go on and on for three hours.) On my virgin flight to London, I watched Love Aaj Kal and tried to hide my tears when Deepika cries when Saif finally realises he loves her and all that. What to do, I’m a sap that way. Also by then we were five and a half hours in the plane and no sign of reaching bloody buggering London. Now that I think of it, that’s why I cried. I tried to watch Julie and Julia or the other way round, but all that cooking and eating and going mmm… put me sleep.

So that was about a nine hours to London after putting up with the sudden, debilitating Bangalore fog. And I still had another 12- 15 hours before I could begin to yodel.

Sitting in the plane following the route map and wondering when the ordeal would end I was quite smug that I knew myself so well. I started out not being excited about this trip especially when the venue was decided to be Sunnyvale and not London. To top it all, something in the flight disagreed with me and had me sneezing. And I had no anti-allergen in my hand baggage. And I was worried they’d think I had swine flu! Bah! The joys of international travel! And if I had my way, I know, I would have avoided it altogether.

Now you will think I’m either a liar or too full of myself and an ingrate but you would be right only about the too-full-of-myself part. I was grateful that I would be getting to see new places, places I would’ve otherwise seen only on TV or post-retirement, but really the timing couldn’t be more wrong and the desire less keen!

While trains often make me think of who might have touched what/done what (I’ve seen a man shag in a bus that started from Shivajinagar) and sat where, flights are like little glorified Pushpak BTS buses (even the Premium economy ones) but clean. And there is no view. Yes, clouds and all that, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all! And it’s unbelievably claustrophobic. The only bright spot was that the food was quite good.

And so I began my journey to a country I’ve always been amused by – America.

Things to do on Flight No.1

Make sure you have your passport and all your papers including those insane documents you carry for your visa interview.

Carry a pen.

Buy a book before you reach the airport. The airport book shop has a lousy collection. I wanted to buy a nice and happy P.G. Wodehouse but had to settle for the serious My Name is Red.

If you are lost, ask around. But you will generally be safe if you follow the mob.

Take your music.

You can carry make-up/moisturizer/deodorant as long as it’s in a transparent zip-lock and as long as you are not carrying litres and kgs of the stuff. I did. And I live to tell the tale.

You can actually work on the flight but that’s being so geeky so I’d much rather you don’t.

Take frequent walks but avoid doing elaborate stretches unless they are paying you to entertain the crowd.

Never ask the attendant to help you with your luggage. Ask a co-passenger.

If you can, buy a bottle of water at the airport before boarding the flight and get the attendant to fill it for you. They don't give bottles in flight and if, like me, you drink water by the gallons it's really an annoyance.

When you smile at people smile a little distantly so people know you are friendly but they won’t fall upon you and tell you the story of their lives. Unless you want to hear it, of course.

Remember you will always crave your neighbour’s choice of food and drink.

Watch a Hindi movie.

Always carry all your medicines. If I had had my anti-allergen, I wouldn’t have been so bored; I would’ve merely been stoned.

You really don’t need to wear socks but do carry a jacket/coat in your hand-baggage. But here I’m getting ahead of my own story so wait for the next instalment.

Do you have a first-flight experience? Leave me a comment.

4 comments:

Rati said...

I can't really decide if it is boring to take a flight or really interesting. I think more than anything I am totally drained after I take a flight anywhere. I have to fall asleep during take off and on most Indian Airlines I am allergic to the airfreshner so I sneeze, cough and end up looking like Rudolph!.
Actually, even with all the interesting things that happen on a flight, it is still dead Boring.

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Air freshner! That was it! Oh that happened all through my 4-day voyage. I felt like Columbus or something.

Mahesh Shantaram said...

"Yes, clouds and all that, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!"

Blasphemy! I have my new Airtime series to prove you wrong!

http://thecontrarian.in/photography/airtime/

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Mahesh, I love airports. And I love those two seconds during take-off and just before we land. But when you are over 32,000 feet above the ground, I can't see anything like your wonderful pictures. :)