Friday, October 1, 2010
I will start with an admission: I do not like flying in an aeroplane. It makes me feel nauseous, my ears ring and my head is a like a leaden weight on my shoulders. Seriously overweight co-passengers who hog armrests and the plane-is-my-mansion kind who recline their seats regardless of whether you are eating, reading or sleeping make things worse. But the absolute pit is getting the middle seat. Or wait, getting an aisle seat with co-passengers who want to go to the restroom every fifteen minutes or so probably takes the prize.
Yet, of late I have chosen to book a flight because it saves time – time that is better utilized with family and friends rather than travelling from Point A to Point B.
So, last week, when I decided to take a seriously needed break from work, I booked air tickets with the extra pre-caution of selecting the seats in advance. I chose window seats – a luxury that airlines have been denying me for years now.
And it was a fortuitous decision. Because it reminded me of the only thing I love about flying.
I boarded an evening flight for my destination. The moment I had made the obligatory call home, I switched off my cell phone, put on my seat belt, took off my sandals, curled my legs under me and prepared to pass the two and half hour journey with my book and iPod. The plane took off in the usual roaring manner, with yours truly gripping the armrests and closing the eyes and hoping that the tinny noise in my ears would not last long.
Thankfully, the take-off was smooth and the plane soon righted itself. I opened my eyes and looked out of the window. And had my breath stolen.
It was after a long, long time that I was taking an evening flight and also had the window to myself. Outside my window, a glorious sight met my eyes. I was going west, so it seemed as if I was flying into the crimson sun itself.
The plane was far above the clouds. A melange of colours had lit up the beautifully soft and dense world of white below us. Red, pink, orange and all the possible shades in between were playing within the cloudy folds. I wanted to taste them really bad. Would they taste slightly sweet and cool, like candy floss? And I wanted to touch and roll in them. Know their feel, remember their texture.
It was a fairy land below me. Surely those spires of marsh-mellows belonged to the castle of the fairy queen. I half-expected faery creatures to peek out of clouds and wink at me. As if I was the only one to know their secret. Imps, goblins and leprechauns walking down the rainbow to the pot of gold. Tiny, little Tinker Bells with gauzy, sparkly wings and naughty smiles.
I also saw a huge polar bear with wings, flying alongside the plane – a knight escorting me to my destination, sworn to protect me against all misfortunes that could befall me. And then there was Pegasus being born right in front of my eyes – the head and torso rising out of the clouds and the wings taking shape, stretching white and magnificent. Mesmerising.
When the sun set and the white world beyond my window went dark, I returned to my book with a rueful smile. But of one thing I was sure. I could not ask for a better and more beautiful memory to begin my vacation.
To windows and flights, then.