Up in the Air

Amazing how man’s thirst to conquer the gods led him to the aircraft. Once a phenomenon, is now so commonplace that people resort to cotton buds, ear plugs, and constant whining about the noise.

up in the air

It’s weird, flying.

It was weird to sit in an airplane, typing away on mobile — while I longed for the familiar pen and paper. It was weird to write, when I had prepared to read.

But the weirdest thing: I didn’t feel any stress, awkwardness, or discomfort. Not even mild irritation. Which was good, because I get irritated, a lot. Around unmanageable kids, in particular.

But what did I feel?

I heard a mild hum ringing throughout the craft. I felt a morsel of sound reverberating through to the end of my spine. My eyes grew groggy — was it the flight or something in the water I drank?

prepared to read

Every new sensation, every breath made me wonder: Could I stand the cold? After all, our destination was snow. And then I looked at the people in my group, those who carried one-year-olds without the least worry about their immunity and teeth chattering, and I realised: I could make it safe.

A monotonous voice announced something neither I nor she understood. Something lit up over my head. It was the “fasten your seatbelt” sign. Someone said something about a landing. The air hostess continued her impassive narrative into what looked like a telephone receiver.

We were about 10 minutes behind schedule, I heard. It’s the 21st century; air traffic is a valid excuse.

For some, the experience was one of a lifetime. It showed too. Kids shouting, restless toddlers trying to evade their parents’ grasp, teenagers gulping, and a few bold faces skimming through newspapers that flashed, “Egyptian aircraft hijacked.”

I mused at the cabin crew. For them, it’s a job. Just another day, just another flight, with just another bunch of fliers. People ogling at them, taking photos without the courtesy to ask first, pointing fingers, and passing lewd comments were all part of the job profile.

What’s not part of the profile, however, is understanding smiles, good afternoons, and sincere thank yous. They aren’t used to it. They don’t even expect humaneness from the countless so-called humans they serve all day, every day. And that’s the saddest part of their job. You can’t blame them for throwing a nonplussed look at you when you smile and greet them good morning.

And then, I felt it. The rumbling had grown louder, so loud that it rang through the craft, and even within my ears. I peered past my co-passenger  — who disgraced the window seat playing solitaire on her phone — and saw, looming near, winding sand lakes that, in a while, became tiny squares of brown and green.

looking down

With another shudder, the plane shook. From outside, the sun streamed into my face, lighting up the aircraft with a natural glow that all the fluorescent bulbs could never achieve.

With a final thud, we touched down. And I reached down to pick up my phone from the floor.

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