Flight of fancy or was i on it ?
“Ladies and Gentlemen, SpiceJet is happy to announce the departure of its flight to Pune. Passengers are requested to proceed to the boarding gate.”
So, this is how the same door becomes the boarding gate for the different airlines. Didn’t know that! So, we are in the flight and comfortably settled in. Even after i explain the intricacies of low-cost carriers, my mom is not able to comprehend a flight without food. But, it was good that water was free and my mom was happy!
After some time into the flight, the flight attendants brought some food for sale. With it was also Litchi Juice costing around 30 bucks. Litchi juice of all juices! if they had brought Mango Juice, Orange Juice or even Lemon Juice, it would have been ok, but how may people actually drink Litchi Juice? I decide to skip the juice and dozed off for the rest of the flight to Pune.
Once we landed at Pune and people started disembarking, i looked out of the window and expected to see a bus/van to take us from the plane to the terminal. I had been expecting too much. It seems that you have to get down from the plane, walk across few parking lots (meant for other planes) and you enter the terminal, just like you would do in any railway station.
As we were standing inside the terminal getting used to the small building and contemplating on our next move, there was an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last and final call for spice jet flight xxx to coimbatore. Passengers are requested to …”. Interesting, we thought. There are people who fly to Coimbatore even from Pune. A few minutes later, another announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last and final call for spice jet flight xxx to coimbatore. Passengers are requested to …” !!! I never knew that there could be many instances of “last and final”!
The stay in Pune was very eventful and it requires a separate post. So, we finished whatever we had to do in Pune and the next day, we were on the return flight home. We were one of the first to board the flight at Pune. Looking out of the window, we saw a big group running very fast towards the plane and crowding at the base of the stairs up to the plane. Vidhya and I were discussing that this flight probably had a unreserved section and these people were the poor ones who were without seat numbers and it was a matter of “first come, first seated”.
But, as one soul entered the plane in the front, we realised that this was not the case. In came a scantily clad middle-aged man accompanied by a twenty something. Ah, this has to be a sadhu. He fitted the profile perfectly. I was right. He sat in the first seat and everyone entering after him (this was the big group) managed to somehow find enough place in the cramped aisle to prostrate completely before him and get his blessings. There were many foreigners also in tyhis group. I thought Indians went abroad and took the jobs/money of foreigners, but now i realised that we invite them to our country and do the same, saving the cost of travelling abroad. I watched the faces of the people go by. They were on cloud nine, on seventh heaven whatever you want to call it. Even an autograph or a kiss from aishwarya rai would have paled in comparison.
There was a couple seated behind us and they were on the edge of their seats to get a glance of the sadhu. I asked them who this was and they said in unision “guruji, sarath babu guruji”. Had Sarath Babu changed professions because of low returns from films ? No, it wasn’t the actor as i remembered him from his films and guruji looked a lot different.
So, after a few dozen people had finished getting their blessings, the plane was ready to depart. Until then, the air hostesses had a tough time getting people to move towards the back to their seats. It was Deja Vu! When i was in school, our school bus conductor always kept shouting at the boys to move to the back, away from the girls’ seats in the front. Anyway, after all was finally ok, the captain announced the departure.
Then, out of the blue, a guy starting running towards the front of the plane. Vidhya panicked “Was this a hijack attempt?”. I didn’t think so. The plane had not even moved and it was too early for a hijack. But, you never know, this guy could have been one of the low performers in the “School of Hijacking” and in his eagerness to pull off his first hijack, could have acted a bit too early. But, it was not so, thankfully. It seemed that he had suddenly developed some mysterious sickness and was feeling very uncomfortable and had to get off the plane. The air hostess tried to explain that it was too late now as they had already got the clearing for take-off. He started getting agitated and demanded that he disembark from the plane. The captain relented and asked him to get his baggage.
So, he got off the plane and the captain announced that there was some paperwork to be done before they left and it would take another ten minutes. Then there was an announcement “Ladies and gentleman, please check whether all your cabin baggages are still inside the plane”. Everyone panicked! Though he had gone out in clear view of everyone carrying a dark blue bag, my mom insisted that we check all our baggage even though none of our bags would seem dark blue, even to the colour blind! Imagine a hundred people jumping out of their seats in unison, opening all the overhead lockers and jumping up and down to check whether all their bags were there. After a few minutes, all were satisfied that he had not taken any other’s baggage with him.
Suddenly, an Eureka moment came for Vidhya: “Whats the point in checking whether he had taken anyone else’s luggage? What if he had left a piece of baggage behind? a bomb?”. A perfectly logical question from Vidhya (was the moon blue? I peeked out to search for it, i couldn’t find it). So, for the rest of the journey, any ticking sound from a watch would get nervous glances from my mom.
We were in the air, finally. After the seat belt sign was switched off, people started to throng the front row preventing the air hostess from bringing the Litchi Juice. Then, one smart gentleman, seeing the opportunity, decided to stand next to the guruji and act as the coordinator and started issuing coupons for the visit to the first row (well, almost!). The air hostess begged, pleaded and tried every trick in the air-hostess’ guidebook to get the passengers back to their seats, but nothing worked. Then, a knock on the cockpit and few words were exchanged and an announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, due to the prevailing turbulence, we request all of you to get back to your seats and fasten your seat-belts”. I settled back in my seat and looking at the crystal-clear sky through the window, dozed off for the rest of the flight.