Archive for April, 2011

Mumbai to NewYork – Part2/2

April 18, 2011

Continuing from the Mumbai to New York – Part1…..

The plane was already 20 minutes late now but still no hints of moving, the good part was that I was sitting at the window seat now, I also got the confirmation that the two seats beside me are gonna be empty through out. I thanked those two people and specially the one who had the window seat, for giving me the opportunity to sit at the window seat. Outside everything looked so placid unlike the usual Mumbai! I was watching other planes taking off and few others taxing their way to the other side.
There was something happening to the left side of me, inside the plane too, I turned and was pleasantly surprise to see the beautiful airhostess once again, fourth time this night :). She had actually come there because there was this guy who wanted to shift his place and wanted to sit at my place. (Guy!!!…God..why not Gal :)) I was not going to give my window seat to anyone, but soon realized that the guy actually wanted to sit at my original place, the third seat. It turned out that he was carrying a minor eye infection and the place where he was sitting previously had an infant there, so just in case the kid doesn’t catch the infection he wanted to change his seat (such a nice guy, he thought about the kid and forgot about me :)). Anyway he sat beside me, actually an empty seat separating us; he was wearing his shades so I couldn’t see the infected eyes though I tried to peek in from the side a couple of time. Actually there were hardly 4-5 empty seats in the plane so I was lucky enough to have 2 of them beside me (now 1 though).

After ten minutes of so I again heard a funny voice saying “this is your pilot speaking”, he announced that we would soon be taking off and also apologised for the delay which actually the AAI should be doing. He however assured that he would try to minimize the delay as much as possible. The seatbelt indicators above us were switched on; the no smoking indicators beside them were always on. I was ready with the belt, I fastened it up and sat comfortably. There was a common TV in front of us, at the centre, which was showing us the live footage from the side, front and the back of the plane.

There was some noise and a small jerk, the plane had started, woooooooooooo!
It first took a reverse, and then slowly started moving in the front. I suppose it was on the first gear, coz it was hardly moving. It moved for a distance and then stopped. I found out from the outside view that there were couple of more planes ahead of us and it was like when one plane takes off, there is one from above makes a land and then the other is allowed to take off. Nice coordination hmmm.

Now it was the turn of our plane to take off, the plane aligned itself to the runway, sped up a bit, and in not time vroooooom, zoooooooooom. Was that all, I said!!!!
It hardly took any time to take off, I just managed to get a glimpse of the WE Highway or was it EE, but after that nothing, I mean it was pitch dark. That was simply unbelievable to me, first thing was the speed it acquired in no time, definitely from gear 1 to gear 89. The second thing was the taking off; I just felt a minor jerk, got a glimpse of the highway and then all gone. I was expecting a nice view of Mumbai; don’t know if it was because of the clouds coz I was not able to see anything by now.
Anyway that snapshot of the glimpse of Mumbai is still fresh in my mind and would always be.

Fine, everything was settled by now. The seat belt indicator had gone off. The guy with a shade on was relaxing with his head on the head rest and I was still trying to sneak through the gap between the face and the goggles to see if that eye is indeed infected!
After some time the small TV in front of us came alive, we were able to select our choice from various options like, songs, movies, cartoons, information, gags, games etc. The control for the TV was attached with a wire to the elbow rest on the seat. I never needed it coz the screen was a touch screen.

Most of the people on the plane were off to a quick nap, or may be already deep asleep. I thought of getting a view of my surrounding, to the right was the wing of the plane and the bright lights over it. To the left enigmatic guy still relaxing with head tilted at 45 degrees. Behind me were three people, two of them quite old. I didn’t wanted to go far behind, but then there was a good looking girl reading some magazine. Far towards left was my aunty, now looking much more relaxed and I quickly pulled my self down in case she sees me and ask me to join her! In front of me was a young guy, a young lady and a rare empty seat between them. Three-four rows in front and then we are into the business class where there were lots of gorgeous looking ladies and handsome guys; they must be having fun for sure! By the way they were served drinks on arrival, and we were not asked anything:).
The common TV at top-front showing various angles from the outside cameras was still on but nothing was there in the picture, all blank with random dots as if the cable line had gone off.

It was already 2:15 AM and no signs of dinner yet, I was wondering if they had already started following the US time zone. But after few minutes of so, the good looking airhostess came to our aisle area, dragging a wheeled table with the food. By now I was sure that the airhostess was being assigned our aisle for the entire journey:). She began from the first row, asking each person their choice between veg and non-veg. Suddenly the plane came alive, there was chatting, whispering going around, people finally started moving, showing human traits, coz until five minutes back it seemed as if I am the only one on  the plane. I thought of washing my hand before I start eating, so I went behind only to find the loo engaged. I had no option but to wait, but my eyes were on the food, as soon as the airhostess reached my row, I left and ran to my seat. I feared that if my turn would go and I won’t get the food after that. As I reached there, I just asked “my food”, the pretty lady smiled at me and asked if I would prefer Veg or Non-Veg, I said Non-Veg, with a smile she handed me my food and went ahead.

Finally I was getting to eat. I opened the silver foil; the aroma from the food was quite good. There was rice, chicken masala, salad, cream, sugar, mineral water (in a tiny bottle), kheer, spoon, fork, knife, sugar, salt, tissue paper, an empty cup and few other things that I never used. Thankfully I didn’t had to use my hands as there was no chappati. The food was indeed good, better than I expected or may be my hunger made it taste good. The dessert too was yummy. I was curiously looking at the cream, coz I couldn’t figure out for what purpose was that meant for. As I slowly peeled the cover off and tried tasting I was prompted by my mysterious looking friend, he told me that it was to be put into coffee or the tea which would be served next. As he had prophesied, the coffee and the tea came, I opted for the tea, added the cream and sugar. It was not that good but then I didn’t expect it to be like the masala chai we get at the ‘nukkars’.
I and that guy started out with the conversation, he turned out to be a quite cordial person. He was in the US for last 7 years and working for Microsoft! He told me about his journey since he came in US for the first time for studies. We hit off quite well. I was curious to know about the US and he was more than willing to tell me all the stuffs. After a good chat for about 20 minutes we decided to catch a good sleep, most of the passengers were already asleep. The lights had already gone dim. I tried for few good videos on the TV but none were of my taste! While I was trying to get a nap I heard a kid crying loudly from the front – mid row and that was so annoying. To add to the situation one more kid from behind started crying, may be these kids were secretly talking to each other and making fun of all of us who were trying to sleep. I stood up a little and glanced around, people were unperturbed by the noise, probably they were used to it by now. Anyway the seat was not that comfortable so I was not able to get a sleep in the first place. After every 20 minutes or so I used to get up and peep outside and on the TV I used to track the route which our plane was flying on along with the current speed and outside temperature. For most of the time the temperature was around -60 degrees Celsius and the speed was around 840 kms per hour. The other thing I noticed was that the plane was taking the coastal route for most of the time, rather than flying over the landmass. It went through Arabian Sea, Pakistan, Iran, over Mediterranean countries, Europe, underneath Sweden, UK and to the Atlantic. Over the Atlantic too, it went close to the ice land, Greenland, then to the Canada and finally to the US. (Ya, that was fast forward, let us get back to the current time!)

Trying to sleep but couldn’t I took several short naps, got up every now and then, stared at the people around me….still thinking if this is all real! Morning never came (we were moving from east to west, and so does the relative motion of the Sun) it was just that after 5-6 hours people started showing some signs of life, that too most of them in and around the loo. I too got out of my seat, waited outside the loo, pretending as if waiting for a beer! And when I went inside the loo….guess what, that was a rat-hole, God – O – God. I anyhow adjusted my self on to the commode, lightened my self and then proceeded towards something that would be handy throughout my stay in US, which is using a toilet paper…ughhhh that was really disgusting. But while writing now, I am already used to it :). There was a mouth wash liquid, I tried it, didn’t feel good so tried it again, didn’t feel good again, so tried it again and then never tried it ever. I use my brush always :).

I washed my hands, came out and sat on my birth. It was still dark outside.
The very next moment we were about to have the breakfast. I checked the map and our current location. We were over the land of America, most probably near the Boston. Yes! We were taking route from the north and moved towards the south this made sense since through out the journey I saw the plane taking the coastal roots.

Now it had started to become bright outside. I could see clouds below and intermittently some beautiful landscapes :). I took out my cell phone to click few snaps of the view outside only to be interrupted by the guy sitting in front of me. “Not allowed to take snaps” was what he said, I was bit surprised as my stranger friend had told me that it is fine to take snaps, and it was my cell phone not a camera. Also there were no such instructions on the plane (although they told us to switch off the mobile phones :)). Anyway I obliged to the guy who interrupted. Guess what after few conversation with him, I came to know that he too was from TCS!! Back to view outside, these were the scenes which I hadn’t seen in my life before. I could see the majestic Atlantic sea bracing the long shore of NYC. I was minutes away from landing somewhere I had only dreamt of. The plane was taking a compete 90 degrees turn to the right, I could see the wings clearly tilted downwards, the sun rays from the east which till now were falling on the wings were completely blocked by the tilt. Just before the landing, we were given couple of forms to be filled up, for me it was only the I94 and the custom declaration form. With little help from my stranger friend I filled up the forms. For next few minutes I was just looking outside, it felt as if the morning has come after so many dark nights, really felt like eternity in the plane. Announcements were already made to fasten the seatbelts, the seatbelt indicators were all on. In next few minutes it was it, the MOMENT, we were about to land, I was ready for it, could see the runway getting big at me, closer closer….and finally the tyres rubbed against the land, didn’t feel much of the jerk as I was expecting, credits to the pilot :).

Now the plane was about to taxi down. We heard the announcements of the weather outside (7 Celsius) and couple of other announcements which I ignored coz I was only looking at the view outside. I had reached USA…..finally the dream has become a reality.

PS: I was quick to reach the Immigration check, in fact I was the second person from our batch to reach their. Quickly after that I took my luggage, this experience of searching for my luggage through the conveyer was again first of its kind for me, I was lucky to spot my luggage quickly. Just when I was ready for the customs, I saw that aunty of mine. She was being assisted by an airport staff; I went to her, she was very happy to see me. I helped her get her luggage off the conveyer. We went towards the custom, got all clear, and moved towards the exit. We saw people waiting for their loved ones, few holding the placards. Right in front were my friends Gibin and Shardha. It was great feeling to be with them after such a long time. For the aunty, her son had come there to receive her. They hugged each other and aunty was already in tears. After couple of minutes I went there, said her good bye, she introduced me to her son with all the good words for me :). He thanked me for what I did for her. I bid adieu to them and we were on our way to New Jersey.