Sunday, May 28

Saturday: Air India

Hi everybody, I would have posted yesterday, except it was $7 at O'Hare for wireless. We flew over on Air India, leaving Saturday evening. I, actually, would fly them again (they're how we're getting home) and the plane had a nice and friendly atmosphere.

Act 1: The beginning.

I sit down in my seat which is on the aisle, half way back, the first row facing the door. The window seat guy is already seated and the middle guy comes not much later.

Window Seat: "Are you flying to Mumbai?"

Middle: "No, I'm flying on to the next city after that"
"So am I. What did you pay?"
I got Iowa to India for 1700.
I got round trip for 1700...

Several minutes of silence pass. Frankfurt is the first stop of the plane today--it's flying on to two cities in India. It's the biggest plane I've ever been on and at least 95% of the passengers are Indian.

Nearly an hour passes after a turbulent take-off. And I reflect upon the fact that the last time I've seen moulded plastic that color yellow was the old apple computer in my 4th grade classroom.

Act II: Dinner

The stewardess come around and pass out some kind of a menu card. It reads "Economy Class" on the front.

Me: So that's what this is called!

I open the card and the left side is written in which ever language it is they speak and then I glance at the other side and it's the same letters.

Oh God!

I look down at the lower half and it's in English. Relief. Left is vegetarian, and the right presents two options: chicken something and something else.

What, no beef option?

When the stewardess returns to distribute meals, I seal my fate with chicken. A rectangular tray is placed before me. I look over, window seat got the chicken and middle got something else.

I examine the fare. A big rectange covered in tin foil--very hot. Two smaller rectangles covered in shrink wrap, one has a piece of lettuce, two slices of cucumber, and some carrot chunks; the other has something that looks like partially mashed orange hashbrowns. Then there is a cup of something creamy looking and white, a roll, and a water.

Playing it safe, I pick up the silverware bag.
What do you know, it's really metal.

I pull out the fork. Then the knife and the packet of sugar falls on the floor.

Holy crap! That could blow my cover. Think fast. I kick it under my seat. No one sees.

Where to start?

Well, in Candadian Airspace, do as the...
Indians eat Italian salad dressing?

I pour it out and eat the salad. Looking out the corner of my eye, I'm ahead of the middle seat guy. The plane bounces a little. I pull the shrink wrap off the second rectangle. The mashied potatoes. I take a little on my fork. It's cold and sweet.

Major mistake #2: accidentally started the desert.

The Indian guys sitting next to me are going to think I don't know how to eat.

Quick, pull the top off the main course. Good Lord! Lima beans!
I've heard the horror stories about Lima beans but I've never actually had one.


I try one. The flavor of the gravy/sauce covers it up. I commence eating the chicken, beans, and potatoes. Looking over the middle seat guy has taken the lid off the white stuff and widow has completely eaten it all already. I head for that next. Not knowing what Indian delights await, I get some and it's plain yogurt.

OK.

I eat all of it. I follow it up with the roll. Some more bumps. Having made it through the meal, I feel better. The stewardess is back.
"Coffee or tea?"

"Tea!"
I've pretty much only had tea once before and it was last summer when I flew to England. How can you fly to England and not have tea? There's something about Europe and tea, besides England took over India and spread tea there, too.

The other two guys pull the yougurt container out of the cup and what do you know, it's a mug! Brilliant!

After the plane was smooth for a minute, I lifted the cup up and then I had the sensation that I had just boiled tree leaves in my mouth.

Damn, the sugar's under my seat.

Act III: The third part.

So my seat is the aisle seat in the row next to the emergency door. I've got the word for exit in Indian memorized. It's a level strait line with a curley 'G' hanging from the line then a vertical line and then a backwards 'S' hanging down. People are lining up and crowding my space to use the bathrooms in the center next to my seat like they're closing in 10 minutes. It's kind of cool though, there's an Indian man standing in line wearing a t-shirt that says some patriotic words on top of the stars and strips. You go guy.

People are starting to congregate in my 8 feet of leg space. Akward.

I try to go to sleep. Damn tea. Why'd I drink it.

Why do you have to force yourself to stay awake during a lecture, but when you've got time to spare you're wide awake?

I saw window seat guy's watch. Both hands were on 11. We left at 7 and we land at 10:30 in Germany. Germany is 7 hours ahead, 3:30 am. Nearly half way. The captain said we'd be over the ocean for 3 hours. 550 mph x 3 hrs = 1700 miles. The tv is broken. At least it's not like last time where the screen counted down every kilometer from Chicago to Heathrow. Who would have guessed that it's 4001 miles from where we sat on the tarmac for two hours? That's slightly more than a radian of the earth. I watched it count down.

5 to 11 pm. The flight is over 7 time zones and it's 8 hours long. 15 hours over 8 hours, time's going nearly twice as fast compared to the surface. 11 - 7 = 4 hours x 2 = 8. Where ever we are, it's about 3 am local time. We land in Germany at 10:30 - 3 = 7:30 / 2 = 3.5. Half way there. No wonder I can't sleep.


...

Despite the unrelentless eagle eyes of the stewardesses, some people manage to lift the shades on the windows for a few minutes. It's daylight outside. Blindingly bright reflecting off the tops of the sheet of clouds. It was cloudy in Chicago, the sun set and it's cloudy over Britain and Europe, too.

Coffee or tea?
The tea didn't go so well last time, "Coffee please."

I've never had coffee before. It usually smells good though. A little sip of it directly black. Now I have the sensation of boilding coffee beans in my mouth. I pour half the creamer in. It still tastes like crap. The rest. More like crap, but tan colored crap. You adults and your coffee are completely overrated. I sip it down to wake me up. It's 3:30 am in Wisconsin and it 10:30 Sunday morning in Germany; I didn't sleep a wink and we're doing Frankfurt today. At least it's good for something.

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