I was aboard my first fancy flight ever. It’s one of the biggest airline carriers in the world, some of my closest colleagues and friends recommended them. Expecting all things nice and welcoming, I trudged along the aisle of what seemed like a highway of airplane seats, to find my own small corner.
It awaited me with a small pillow for back support, a set of headphones to help drain the noisy kids around, and an open window shade to deliver awe throughout the next four hours. I gaped at the mild lighting and fell into the arms of my seat with thankful abandon.
I had stayed up all night walking through immigration and customs, and then sat through a couple of hours at the lounge cranky and headachy just so I could grab that soft violet pillow and snuggle away. As the hands of my clock inched towards the 4 am mark, the captain’s voice boomed overhead, excited and welcoming.
It did seem a little ironic for him to be so cheerful when almost all of his passengers were sleep-deprived and as dull as doormats. He remained unperturbed, and wished fus all a pleasant journey, promising that his crew would serve us to our satisfaction.
After the customary warning messages and announcements, which no one heeded as per custom, the captain set the wheels in motion and we were away. After cruising on the runway for a few minutes, I ascended above, along with three hundred other passengers. Dubai had called and I had obliged. Now all that separated us were time, space, and a long plane journey.
I’m not a first time flier, but every time I step on a plane, I feel the same excitement and the same anticipation as any first timer. And I enjoy the feeling. That’s what made me twist around in my seat, admiring the massiveness that surrounded me. Unlike domestic carriers, international ones accommodate more people — I realised the obvious a little later than usual.
Over my head, the airline hood mimicked the sky outside. Star-like glowy things flickered down at me from a blanket of blackness. In front of me just above the tray table, a complete entertainment system sat waiting to entertain me. Live footage from the various cameras fitted outside of the plane would’ve displayed all that lay below us among the clouds—if only it had been a day flight. Nevertheless, the entertainment system was more than enough to keep passengers occupied. The moment we settled down, my neighbour — a ten-twelve year old by the looks of her — switched on her televised screen and navigated to Ballerina the movie. She ripped open the plastic bag that contained a set of headphones and immersed herself for the rest of the journey. Next to her, her mother settled with an air pillow dozing right off. Frequent fliers, I observed.
Well, I wasn’t a frequent flier and so wanted to get the most I could from the 4-hour flight. Almost hugging on to the window pane, I anticipated the sun rise. Perhaps it was because we flew back in time, but the sunrise didn’t happen for about one hour before we landed in Dubai. In any case, I was awake when it did. It was more of a sunset because I’ve never seen the sun rise over my head — a juxtaposition by itself. Even then, it was a magnificent sight.
By the time the sun had risen in the world below us, on the plane, our air hostesses had begun handing out breakfast. That’s when I realised the rumbling I’d been hearing for a while was my stomach and not the air craft’s engine.
Masking my greediness, I accepted the tray with grateful hands. People complain about airplane food being cold and unpleasant, but I liked mine. Minced lamb omelette, mashed potatoes, and a green pea patty made a decent breakfast. Plus, fruit slices, bread, and a muffin completed a fine meal for a sleep-deprived soul. It was my first time trying such airplane food and I did enjoy it more than others said I would.
By the time I finished, the drooping sensation that had shrouded my eyes cleared up and I felt more awake than ever.
Little did I know that it was the premise for jet lag — a devil by itself.