Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nain lad gayi hain...

Life is an interesting journey. Na jaane kab kahan kisi se mulakaat ho jaye, ya phir sirf aankhen hi chaar ho jayein... make it 6 for me, since I wear glasses.

The building where I live is built like a hotel. You have a long corridor and apartments (flats in apna local lingo) on either side, just the way you have it in a hotel. The building is having a ground floor and a first floor. I stay on the first floor. To reach my apartment, you have to take the left corridor on the first floor. And my apartment is the second one on the right. Since it is a hotel kind of a setup, I have never bothered to figure out who all stay in this building.

Yesterday, while coming back home in the evening, I turned into the left corridor and was just about to reach the first apartment on the right, when its door opened. Ab darwaza khula hai to nazar to jayegi hi... And there I saw one of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Don't assume 'woman' matlab 'aunty'. This lady would have been 2 - 3 years younger to me. She was wearing a saree and was all decked up. Her saree was mutli coloured - rather it had colours of white, pink and blue, in almost straight line, without borders, forming a continuous pattern. Hamari nazre mili - yeh to hona hi tha... yeh bhi koi likhne wali baat hai... I almost stopped in my tracks... She stepped ahead and was looking at me. I thought she must be going out. But mahaul ban gaya. Mahaul bana because I was wearing a blazer and tie (not just a blazer and tie, but shirt and trousers too and that is my daily ka dress code and not just for 1 day). And she was wearing a saree... Kaafi achchi pairing ho jaati, agar woh kuch second aur wahi ruk jaati to... We saw each other for a couple of seconds and then something struck her. She moved back in and closed the door. :( And I moved ahead to my apartment, still wondering ki woh kaun thi... rather hai...

Once I reached home and settled down, I realized that it was Karva Chauth. And if she was all decked up, it is higly likely ki she must be married and must be going somewhere for 'pooja'. Bas, the moment it dawned on me ki she must be married, all the castles that I had built in the air, came crashing down... Seems like I will have to wait for some more time to ensure that my castle gets a good foundation and stays grounded. Till then, I'll keep searching and also keep building castles in the air...

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My flight to Amreeka

This is my second trip to the US, coming after almost 4 years of returning back from US. I had thought that this flight would turn out to be like last time's flight. Before I go ahead and describe this flight, let me brief you about last time's to and fro flight.

My first flight to US was from Mumbai to New York (JFK airport) via London (Heathrow). It was a total adventure (the details of the adventure would be taken up seprately and not in this post). The journey over land and water (Atlantic ocean, to be precise) was not that interesting, even though I had a window seat. There was not much to be seen. The interesting time came when we reached continental US. I believe it was over Hudson bay, that I could see the river below and the tall buildings. And there is mre to come, I could also see an aeroplane below me but travelling in the opposite direction at 7 o'clock angle. That was a sight to behold. While travelling back from US to India, my flight was from Newark (Liberty International airport) to Mumbai via Paris (Charles De Gaulle). Now in both these trips, the passengers were not allowed to disembark at either London or Paris. So technically speaking, even though the flight had landed in Europe, I had not stepped on European soil.

This time round things were to be different. I knew that I had a halt at Frankfurt, but I anticipated things to be the same like last time i.e. even though we would halt at Frankfurt, we would not be allowed to disembark. But no, we were informed in the flight that we would be disembarking at Frankfurt Airport and then board (the same flight) again. This ensured that I finally stepped on European soil (meri barso ki dili tamnna). Agreed that I could not enjoy Europe, but atleast something is better than nothing. :D This was the only interesting part in Mumbai to Frankfurt journey (rest everything including the airhostesses and their attitude is worth ignoring). The fun began after Frankfurt. The crew changed and trust me, the crew was awesome. I had experienced a similar crew during my Newark - Paris - Mumbai trip. Just ahead of me, there were 2 guys - one was a guy from another branch travelling for the same assignment as me, and the second was a research scholar specializing on Stem Cell research, travelling to Omaha to complete some internship. They were talking to the crew about where we are, how much time will it take to cross a particular country and so on. I was listening to their conversation and parallelly was working out my own calculations by referring to the live flight map which showed the path of our flight and the location. All this going on simultaneously while watching a movie... Yes, you read it right - I was watching a movie. I guess I watched 2 movies. I actually used the headphones to hear the dialogues while watching the first movie on the screen. The second movie, that I watched was without the headphones. I was solely relying on the sub titles to figure out what was happening. And yes, both were Hindi movies. Now, now, don't ask me which movies was I watching. To be frank enough - I don't even remember their names, leave aside remembering the story and the star cast. I was just watching the movie when I was not sleeping, to while away the time. So you can say the movies were inconsequential for me. :)

Back to the flight - for quite a bit of the journey, the sky was very cloudy. So we could hardly see anything below except for the cloud cover. But Gods were quite obliging. Some time after crossing UK, the sky was clear and we could see the Atlantic ocean below. I actually felt like emulating the stunt that was done by Drew Barrymore in Charlie's Angels (don't ask me which part) where in she sky-dives and is picked up by Cameroon Diaz. I, obviously, was not expecting anyone as gorgeous as Cameroon or for that matter Cameroon herself to receive me in a boat... But that apart, I did not have a parachute too to help me sky-dive. Very soon, we could see vast expanse of ice below. And it was a very large tract of ice with some rock patches in between. And at the end of the land, again the beautiful Atlantic ocean. The guys ahead of me were not sure what it was. They thought it was cloud cover or maybe some ice in the ocean. When I saw this sight, I quickly switched from watching the movie to tracking the path of my flight and see the map to identify where we were flying currently. And the map showed Greenland. (During my school days, I had always wondered how would Greenland look. Because most of the terrain maps in Geography show Greenland as white as against green or brown or any other colour for that matter.) And I was happy to get a glimpse of Greenland. Only when I was sure that we were over Greenland, then I informed the guys ahead of me that we were over Greenland. They quickly checked the map to confirm and they also spoke to the flight purser to confirm the same. He too looked at the map and confirmed that we were over Greenland. I also learnt something about the way AI plans its routes. But more on that towards the end. Greenland seemed to be an awesome place to go, atleast it seemed so from a height of 34000 ft. :) Someday I hope to visit Greenland... yes... someday... But definitely not alone...

After Greenland, it was Atlantic ocean all the way till we touched Canada. Yes, we flew over Canada (this is because of the way AI plans its routes). Again land mass, nothing exciting as such. But once I figured out the route, there was something I was waiting for. And that was the flight over Lake Michigan. After I saw Greenland, this was something that I was hoping to see. Though the weather at Chicago was cloudy, thankfully I got to see Lake Michigan properly. It looks very nice - I wouldn't say awesome, but it looked good. I could also see a long jetty in it. Didn't bother to read up on Lake Michigan ever since I landed here, and I am not sure if I am going to look it up either.

Now the gyan that I received - Generally when an aircraft travels, it does not fly 'as the crow flies'. Which means, it does not go for the straight route between 2 points, which is also the shortest route. Flights generally travel on the longitudes and latitudes and its routes are planned accordingly. (I was aware of this piece of information.) But when checking the route map for our flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, I noticed that we were following an arc rather than focussing on latitudes or longitudes. Now comes the interesting piece as to why we followed an arc. Whenever AI plans its routes, the route ensures that the flight is at a distance of 1 hour from any airport. This is to ensure that in case of emergency, there is an airport close by to which the flight can be directed. This rule, however, does not apply when flying over water bodies like Atlantic ocean :). No wonder we flew from Frankfurt to the northern tip of Great Britain, to (close to) Iceland, to Greenland, to Canada and then to Chicago. Phew... Chalo koi baat nahi - isi bahane duniya ki sair kar raha hoon (ariel view to mil raha hai na...), even if I am travelling only between 2 countries :P

I guess, apart from this, I will never forget the lovely face and the charming smile of Ms PT who was an airhostess on board. And I won't forget Ms PT too, just like I remember Ms T from my EWR - CDG - BOM flight. The lovely smile, the charming face... ooh la la...Kisi roz unse, mulakaat hogi... Bas, bas... Aagey ki lines reserved for someone special :)
[If the airport codes have confused you, here is the explanation : EWR - Newark; CDG - Paris; BOM - Mumbai; LHR - London Heathrow; ORD - Chicago; JFK - New York (one of the airports in New York)]

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