April 2, 2014
Although I nurse a dormant fear of flying, I really did look forward to this trip of ours, a short hop to Bengaluru with my Wife and Grandchild.
Our bundle of joy, a zipped file of mischief and smart talk, my Grandchild had her way even at the age of seven. I am not flattering her because she is my Grandchild but this flattery coupled with amazement could be applied to the entire present generation which has replaced the slate with a tablet and text books with a laptop or a PC.
Yes, she had her way with the charming airhostess who took her up to the cockpit and returned her to us as the plane was about to take off. We were flying back to Bengaluru from Mangalore to deposit this little package of naughtiness with her parents, my Daughter and my Son-in-law. This little pixie had come to Mangalore to spend her summer holidays with us.
Window seat she demanded and she did get one.
As the powerful Airbus engines swelled and roared with energy, she had her face glued to the reinforced window glass pane. I was watching her intently, amused. The aircraft gathered take-off speed and the landing gear of the plane buckled and curled itself up, we could feel that we have left our beloved Mangalore earth. There was a tight feeling in my throat which appears every time I take a flight and watch through the window, Mangalore landscape shrinking and vanishing into the skyline.
I do get sentimental.
The landscape, seen from the top, if the skies are clear, is a patchwork of green handkerchiefs spread out on a flat table and coconut palms standing erect like candles on a birthday cake. Soon, they would vanish.
The Airbus took to its scheduled height and the Captain switched off the 'fasten seat belts' sign. No one bothered to get up to stretch their legs or ease themselves as the flight was was already halfway through to Bengaluru.
There was strange but venerable silence in the fuselage and looking through the window I could see soft, white clouds in various formations.
Suddenly, my Grandchild turned away from the window and asked me. ‘Aba, do the Angels live here?’
It took me sometime seconds to grasp her question and as if to substantiate my possible answer and brace for the next one, I too looked through the window.
It was an amazing sight, none too unfamiliar but awesome by any degree. The scattered clouds looked so beautiful, carefree and tranquil – far up up from the madding crowd down below. My Grandchild’s question was apt and even mind blowing to us, grown ups. What world we have left down there, about 36 or 37 thousand feet is very well known to us. The struggles, the tensions and the vagaries of life...uh. But what we have up here, the peace, tranquility and the sublime beauty has gone or is going unnoticed? One cannot afford to fly as and when desired to delight in this beauty, right?
Totally out of control I turned into an emotional bundle of nerves and tears welled up in my eyes.
She noticed them.
‘Mai,’ she called the Grandmother who was sitting to my left. ‘This silly Aba is crying!’
Mai gave her a warm smile and said. “Yes, he is sad to leave you in Bangalore with your Mom and Dada!’
‘Mai, it is not Bangalore but it is Bengaluru!’ she corrected the Grandmother sternly. I looked at my wife and nodded.
The aircraft had already begun its descent and the Bengaluru lights were visible like those fixed on to a Christmas Crib. The dusk was settling in.
Collecting myself, I hugged my Grandchild and said. ‘There comes your Bengaluru!’
‘Yes, Aba,’ she said sounding serious and composed. ‘I think that is that lake near our house in Jayanagar!’
I could see nothing but a oval-shaped cloud formation.
‘Yes!’ I humored her. ‘And I can see your friend, that naughty devil, Niketh playing in that dirty water.’
The aircraft touched down and the passengers, in whichever world they were in for a good 25 minutes, were jolted back to reality, reality of being alive!