Summer in Beantown: The plane journey

19 May 2010

Whenever I thought about my first solitary foreign trip, I imagined a huge party of people come to drop me at the airport, plenty of last minute advice and at least one crying woman :P (makes you feel that you're not inconsequential). So what happened came as a bit of a surprise. After a wonderful dinner with my beloved (the dinner wasn't as wonderful as the company), I took an auto, and set to the airport – all alone.

To understand what I am about to say, you must answer this trivia question:

However hungry he might get, a polar bear never eats a penguin. Why not? Well, the answer is that polar bears live on the north pole and penguins on the opposite side of the earth. If a polar bear is that hungry, he'll die on the way to the south pole before he can eat a penguin. So a polar bear is destined never to taste sweet penguin meat (sweet only in the metaphorical sense. I can't vouch for the actual taste of it, never having tasted it – not that I am a polar bear).

And so as I was saying, I set of to the airport all alone – alone as a penguin on the north pole.

The moment has come to introduce you to a certain person called Javelin. Not that he needs an introduction. He does not need an introduction, not because he is famous. Of course he isn't. Otherwise you would have heard his name, and would have gone, “Ooohh! Javelin! I love that chap. He is the nicest bloke in the world!” or something to that effect. But since you didn't – as I knew you wouldn't, I conclude – as I know, that this certain individual called Javelin is not a celebrity. This individual does not need introduction because he does not play that significant a part in the story that you are reading. Now normally, I am not quite an egomaniac. I never go me-me-me. It's called bleating, and that's what goats do, and I am not a goat. For if I were a goat, I would probably get eaten by someone. And however tasty the goat may be – and I can vouch for the fact that goat meat is indeed delicious (unlike penguin meat, I have had the priviledge to have eaten goat meat, and hence the ability to vouch for its taste), it certainly can't write a travel diary once it is eaten. And since I am not an egomaniac, I generally do not ramble on and on about myself. However, in this particular case, since you are taking the pains to read my travel diary, I would assume that you are more interested in me than you are in a certain individual called Javelin, or even penguins or bears – howsoever interesting may they be.

So this certain individual called Javelin had predicted right before I left, that my flight would be cancelled due to the dust and ash from the volcano, that had disrupted so many flights flying into and out of Europe since the last month. Incidentally, someone told me at the airport that the Economy of Europe had suffered a 10% setback, just because of the volcano. Also that 131 flights from India to Europe had been cancelled just on the previous day. However, I do not trust these statistics all that much, since statistics are like bikinis. Everyone can wear one, but it looks good on only a few. (The smart ones out of you, readers, may already have realised that what I mean to say is that out of the gazillions of statistics floating around, like the gazillions of bikini clad women floating around, only a few are true).

Now this certain individual called Javelin has a reputation to make dark and ominous predictions about all and every thing in the Universe and beyond (he happens to be a believer in the muliple-universes theory predicted by Quantum Mechanics). However, in this particular case, his prediction turned out to be true. My flight to Amsterdam was canceled. Canceled like a teddy bear in Honolulu ( if you don't understand the simile, don't worry – neither do I). However the kind and gentle people of Delta Airlines offered to put me on a different flight, via Zurich and New York. Incidentally, I noticed at the Delta Airlines counter that 2 out of the 5 employees were Christians – a Steve and a Marilyn. Clearly, this is way more than the proportion of Christians in the population of India. Does it mean that the Delta people prefer Christian employees. But again, I am probably looking at conspiracies where there are none. As the statisticians among you must already be crying in anguish, 7 is hardly a good enough sample size to make generalizations, and grevious accusations on the kind and gentle people at Delta airlines, who so very kindly accomodated me on a Swiss Airlines flight to Zurich. Emigration, Security, was a breeze, and in no time at all, I was near the gate, waiting to be boarded on the plane. Several phone calls were made, and family, friends and more were assured, reassured that everything was fine and that I would reach Boston in one piece. Curious simile, that. Ever wondered what reaching in one piece means? If I don't reach in one piece and in, say, two pieces, would that qualify as reaching at all? I mean the body of Ravi Bhoraskar would be in Boston, but would Ravi Bhoraskar be in Boston? This brings us to the most fundamental question of human existence – what is life? Doctors today say that a person is said to be dead when his heart stops beating. However, there are several body functions, like the brain, which go dead before the heart stops beating. Have you heard of brain dead people? Also, there are several body functions that continue hours after the heart has stopped beating. This is what makes organ transplant from dead people possible. I beleive there is no concete answer to this fundamental question yet. The doctors among you may beg to differ. Please do. Please let me know.

The flight to Zurich was a particularly pleasant one. Although I slept through most of it, the general impression was that I was welcome on the flight and the air hostesses/stewards were warm and pleasant. The meal was particularly delicious. Hot breadrolls, sausages, an omlette, and mashed potatoes.

I reached Zurich soon enough. Since I had plenty of hours to go, I decided that I wanted to see the whole airport. Ghenghiz Khan wanted to conquer the whole world, but my aim was decidedly more modest. So I roamed around for a bit in the terminal I was in, tried connecting to the wi-fi (which turned out to be not free. I tell you, the invention of money will lead to the downfall of humanity. But I speak in jest, of course) and peed a few times. I then caught a train(or whatever it is called) to the other terminal, roamed around a bit, peed once and returned to the original terminal, where I had to catch my flight to the Big Apple from. Past the security, I sat in a coffee shop, and started reading the book given so graciously by my beloved. Only when I had finished a few pages did I realize that the view out of the window was out of the world. Well not really out of the world. In reality it was only the view out of the window, but what I mean when I say out of the world is that the view was quite a pretty site. In the distance, you could see a green tree covered hill, sitting beneath a sky as blue as Paris Hilton's make-up. The airport was sitting in the midst of several such hills, and looked as pretty as pretty can be. I realize the futility of my trying to describe the scene in words, as I understand the wisdom of the sages who once said that a picture speaks more than a thousand words.

After a nap, I got on to the Delta Airlines flight to New York. The plane was much smaller than the swiss airlines plane, and was mostly empty too. Also, there were no personal TV screens. Just a big central screen. Like a video coach bus. Have you ever been on one? The food was not as good as that on Swiss Airlines, and me being on one of the last seats of the plane, the chicken was over by the time the steward reached me, and I had to make do with some vegetarian pasta. But like another great sage once said : such is life dearies. An advantage, though, of the plane being empty was that I got a seat meant for 3 all to myself, and I could lie down and sleep.

Soon the 8.5 hours journey was over, and I was at John F Kennedy airport, New York.

More later. Bye