Friday, April 17, 2009

15 hours 45 minutes (BOM - EWR)

Most people view any flight of more than 10 hours as an ordeal. People complain about claustrophobia, boredom, leg cramps, noisy infants, smelly feet, rude stewardess and every other thing one could imagine. However, I have always enjoyed these long international flights more than the short 2-3 hour domestic flights. Its been only a few hours since I disembarked from the longest flight I have ever taken in my life - 15 hours 45 minutes from Mumbai to Newark and my belief has only been strengthened.

When I board one of these flights, I embark with a mindset that I am going to be here forever. I eye my seat as if it were my new apartment. I carefully choose my aids - book, I-Pod, Glasses etc and furnish my apartment. The remainder is neatly stowed away in my apartment's attic. Once ensconced in the seat, I survey my neighbors. I make it a point to break the ice with my neighbors before the flight takes off. If an interesting conversation is struck, I shall let my curiosity further the conversation. If the neighbor is cute, then its a bonus! If the neighbor is annoying, I just pretend to close my eyes and act exhausted.

Once the cabin door is closed, and I switch off my cellphone, I enter a zone of bliss. The blackberry no longer incessantly buzzes with emails. People can't reach me and I don't feel any guilty for the same. At 30,000 ft above sea-level, a different sense of freedom sets in. I feel I have cut all ties with the ground below and I am free to do anything I want. I can read, I can type (blogs like this!), I can watch crappy movies, I can eat or I can just do something more relaxing - sleep. Since I don't wear a wrist watch and as the plane flies across multiple timezones, I lose sight of time. I do not anticipate the trip's end. This seems like the perfect escape from planet earth. It seems like one endless journey suspended way up in the sky. In contrast, a 3 hour domestic flight seems like a painful countdown to destination.

These international flights are the only time that I turn into a strict vegetarian, as the veg food invariably turns out to be better than the dry airline chicken or beef. Thanks to the never expanding diaspora of desis and more importantly patel run hotels, the food in the flights nowadays are pretty delicious. In addition, there is unlimited wine. Nothing acts as a better sedative than a few glasses of merlot. I feel like a king as people serve me without me asking for it. International flights also tend to be the only times when I catch some good sleep on a plane. Except for one disastrous experience flying to Korea, I have mostly been fortunate enough to earn exit row seats with ample legroom to stretch and relax.

Its always a sad time when you near the destination and the stewardess request you to prepare for landing. The violent jerk of the plane rubber mating with the tarmac asphalt wakes me to reality. I switch on my phone, the flood of emails serves as a grim reminder that this was after all a dream! So ppl, next time you undertake a long flight, just approach it a tad different and I am sure you would attest to a whole new experience. Bon Voyage!


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

I entirely agree with you about the pleasures of a long flight. I try for a window seat so I can look out on a view like a physical atlas.

Confused, though - in April you flew back from the Caribbean to Houston, then a few days later you flew from Bombay to Newark? Amazing mobility!

And though this may seem trite, I like your blog.


Point 5 said...

@JAP..Thanx for your comment..April has been crazy ..I had to fly to Puerto Rico, India and Chicago in 3 weeks..

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