It is happening! I am actually at the doorstep of the aircraft to begin, what I naively assume to be, an exciting journey. For those who are wondering, “what is wrong with this guy?”, I recommend a quick review of my earlier travails here.
Finally, I am inside the aircraft where I witness activity and chaos comparable to those in my local flee market. Some elite class passengers are seated trying to bury themselves in their electronic devices while managing to sneer at the lesser mortals trying to snake their way to the bottom, I mean, back of the aircraft. The majority of have-nots have had their progress through the aisle stopped by a determined individual trying to fit an oversized suitcase in the overhead bin. Mercifully, with the intervention of several flight attendants, some order is restored and the flight actually takes off with a delay of only 5 minutes – but not before the customary public announcements have forcefully provided an update on all possible disasters that could strike us in the next 2-3 hours.
The takeoff is eventless and various warning lights are extinguished. A sense of having been released from prison prevails. Wedged in a middle seat and having lost the battle for the use of either arm-rest, I valiantly attempt to retrieve my book from the tote bag that is wedged in front of me inches from my feet. Needless to say, the degrees of freedom available for movement amount to zero and I might as well be strapped to an electric chair. So, I turn my attention to other modes of entertainment such as solving the Sudoku puzzle in the airlines magazine. A cleverer passenger on an earlier flight has solved all the puzzles in my copy and I, having boarded the flight in Group Z, do not have the courage to ask for another copy.
The tinkling sounds of the refreshments trolley fill me with the hope that all is not lost. I wait eagerly as the cabin crew slowly and unsteadily make their way from either end of the aircraft to the center row where yours truly is seated, in a manner of speaking. “Would you like something to drink?” says the robotic voice. Making sure that the question was definitely addressed to me, I say confidently, “coffee, with cream please…….. and, er …. some water ……. without…”. I am cut off in mid-sentence and a glass of ice lands in front me and the stern lady promises to come back with coffee. For the next ten minutes, I embark upon a mismatched duel between ice cubes and my teeth while trying to keep the sound level to an acceptable decibel.
My coffee service stands suspended indefinitely as fresh restrictions are placed on the movement of one and all due to unexpected turbulence (I have a feeling the pilot chose to enter turbulent zones to avoid my being served the elixir!). Just when I have lost all hopes of anything going right for me, the good lady brings me a cup of coffee that I gratefully accept. Wisely deciding that it would be too risky a maneuver to attempt, I skip the open-the-milk-sachet-spill-and-splash-and-get-some-into-the-cup act and gulp down the black coffee – just in time to obey commands for the prepare-the-cabin-for-landing routine.
I give myself a break and decide to disembark last from the aircraft even as the cleaning crew try to hinder my exit. The overwhelming sense of being a free human being again seems to make every minute of the just concluded ordeal worth it!