Sunday, March 14, 2010

THE FLIGHT TO GOA and the Honeymoon Couple


Jostled by the impatient and milling passengers, crowding the isle, with bulky carry on board baggage, searching for some empty overhead bins, I make way to 24 C, my isle seat, on the Kingfisher flight to Goa, a bit uncomfortable to find 24 A and B occupied by a Goa bound Honeymoon couple for company.

Seated, I look for the two ends of the seat belt, wondering of their feelings with a stranger intruding in their privacy. Sitting a bit separate from each other, as far as possible, in the narrow seats of the cattle class, I notice that, unlike typical honeymoon couples, they appear a bit like two strangers thrown together by chance or parental design, yet to fathom and explore each other.

My ‘Hi’ barely acknowledged, confirming my first impression, I confine my attention to the small TV screen on the back of the seat opposite flashing updated messages of distance and time to destination, outside temperature the moving progress of the plane to Goa on a relief map of India and later , once airborne, a choice of movies and live news.

The plane starts to move, trundling like a lumbering overloaded truck, for its position in the long queue of other departing flights. I keep shifting my attention between the ever changing display on the TV screen and the shifting scenery through the window. Ages later the plane stops, finally at the top of the queue. With clearance from the ATC, the pilot pushes the throttles forward and rumble of the twin GE engines increases, the engines whining are tested at full power, the brakes are released and the aircraft commences the takeoff run lumbering slowly, soon picking speed, accelerating furiously, with the massive effort to free itself from the shekels of gravity.

The uneven ground run, bumping on the runway potholes, shuddering and squeaking of the aircraft all adds to the typical takeoff stress that permeates the cabin. : Looking out of the window, at the speedily falling distance markers of the runway behind , I can not but help notice some other shekels of inhibition being cut in the cabin itself: the slowly crawling hand of the bride suddenly jumps like a spread Cobra-head and clutch the expectant hand, hopefully waiting all the time for this to happen.
As the plane breaks from the pull of gravity and takes to air, climbing at a steep angle, the vibrations die and an uneasy calm descends in the cabin. The tension some what ebbed, the hand also is slowly withdrawn back to the comfort of the lap, strangely, at the same time trying to hide the large number of shiny slivery bangles on the other hand, a newly wedded’s traditional symbol, under the pullover’s long sleeve!

During the flight, though, deep in my own thoughts, I could not but fail to sense their lack of mutual chemistry. If a confirmation was needed it came nearly two hours later, during descent for landing at Goa; with one hand, expectant and waiting for the other, extend hopefully for the repeat of what had happened at the takeoff, which all this time, in the flight, lay inert in the lap, suddenly getting twined but once on the ground and the Boeing rolling to a stop is withdrawn with alacrity.

Hopefully they were more comfortable with each other on the return flight after the three days and two nights of the honeymoon package, a post marriage gift.

This little drama pushed me back the memory lane, back to the July of the year 1985: we were on an Airbus flight to Bombay a few days before my imminent retirement from Army.

With the monsoon clouds extending right up to the cruising altitude of the aircraft and only the pea-soup of the woolly clouds visible through the window, my wife of 27 years, unlike the bride of the day, held my hand, tightly clutched all the way from Delhi to Bombay. Was it the feeling of security accruing from the low voltage, low frequency current of companionship and its assurance flowing to and fro, or was it the silent expression the deep love and affection, felt more so in the close proximity and isolation of the Airbus cabin at 35,000 feet cut-off from the myriad pressures of the small worries of life left down below.

Once on the ground and the plane taxiing, the grip loosened some what, possibly the expectation of soon meting her younger sister, then residing in Bombay, some what overshadowed the influence of my proximity.


At June 27, 2012 at 3:03 PM , Blogger Julian Booth said...

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At June 27, 2012 at 3:07 PM , Blogger Julian Booth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

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