Sunday, November 18, 2012

A wish granted

Right from childhood, aeroplanes (wikipedia tells me that it means 'wandering in air' in Ancient Greek) have fascinated me. The irresistible sound of whirring high among the clouds would inevitably draw my eyes to spot them and follow until they became smaller and smaller and disappear around the earth's curvature. And if happened to be a jet, the eyes would follow the vapor trail and continue to stare long after the jet had disappeared. Helicopters were fascinating too. We used to think dragon-fly were helicopters for ants! Once one copter flew so low in our neighborhood that it seemed as big as a bus. The sound was deafening.

The stories about friends having experienced air travel were no less interesting. Whole chocolate bundle offered free of cost was too preposterous to not believe. Days were spent on building imaginations on that single fact. And so naturally I was excited to be traveling by aeroplane when the opportunity knocked doors in February 2010. To my dismay though, I didn't get a window seat. Not once but both up and down.

But fate decided to repay me with bonus. This June, on the way to Delhi, I got my first window seat journey in a flight. Not without drama though. Before even I could ask for my seat preference, I was allotted an aisle slot. I asked for window seat and the lady at the counter with practiced smile changed the seating arrangement. She said that it would be a seat near the rearside of the aeroplane. The boarding pass still had the aisle seat number. As I went in, I realized that. I sat in window seat of the same row in hope that it was the reallocated seat. But soon, another person claimed it. He and I had the same seat number. A youth in the back seat began ranting his theory that these low fare flights are usually over-booked. For few anxious moments I was scared that I would be denied a seat in the flight, let alone a window seat. The flight attendants soon sorted out and found my reallocated seat number. It was last but one row in the rear-side. It was double relief.

Contrary to my first impression, backseat offers better window viewing as it is far removed from the annoying-view-blocking-wings in the middle. A nice cushion allowed me to recline towards the window for longer viewing. Though after some time neck pain started and I couldn't keep my head turned left all the time through the 150+ minutes of sailing among the clouds. The continuous staring was also painful on the eye due to the sunlight. On the return flight too I got a window seat, this time given without my asking. But it was right in the middle close to the wings and viewing was more blocked than visible portion. And coming from North to South in morning means the Sun directly shines on the left side of the plane, where I was seated. So for most part, I kept the window shut and slept a while too from exhaustion.

Here's a list of wonderful things I got to observe from the window seats. Took some photos too, carefully avoiding flight attendants :P
  • Clouds everywhere! Below, above, far off, clouds in all directions. Though it was monsoon season, I didn't spot sea of monsoon clouds until the return journey. If only we could go swim in them ;) Sometimes after passing through a cloud and emerging out, I could see the mist drying away on the wings.
  • I did get to see raining clouds once, though being far, it wasn't a good view.
  • A strange mirage was brownish cloud far-off to the view. With blue sky around, for long time I thought it was an island surrounded by clear water. Only nearing it showed them to be brown clouds which seemed to be land
  • With so many clouds around, nearing noon time I got to see a wonderful spectacle - a circular rainbow! Before I could take a snap though, the view passed.
  • After a while during the first flight, I started making a wish list of things to see. One of them was seeing mountains, specially western ghats and Himalayas. Ofcourse Himalayas was out of question for this trip, I did get to see a range a mountains, Not sure if it was western ghats, but there was ample forest cover and bare stone peaks
  • Not sure if could be called a forest, but once I got to see dense cover of trees. They seemed to arranged methodologically. It provided a change of scene from seeing long stretches of polygonal lands of different brown shades. The polygonal lands dominated most of the landscape, villages, towns and cities seemed to be sparse. Made me wonder how skewed the price of a piece of land were depending upon where they are located to human settlement
  • One of the best views was that of a river running almost parallel to the flight's path. The width of the river seemed so small from above, but surely must have been hundreds of feet wide. And seeing two branches of the river meeting was certainly special
  • On nearing Delhi, I was appalled seeing the scores of concrete jungle with almost no greenery. Highways and railways came in view. I prayed to see train moving. I was to be disappointed for long. None seemed to be running just at that time. I did spot a goods train standing in a station. It looked so toy like that I wanted to grab them. The journey rounded off neatly when I spotted a metro train moving :)















There were perhaps many other interesting things I saw and don't remember now. I was all charged up during the journey to write about it, but I have been my lazy self all these months. Anyway, here is my wishlist:
  • To see flock of birds flying from above
  • Cyclone, thunder and heavy rain from dark black clouds
  • Wish there were boats made to float on clouds ;)
  • Waterfall, especially all the water gushing towards the cliff
  • Entire stretch of Western ghats and that too from only hundreds of feet above rather than kilometers
  • Another flight far off
  • and many more, waiting for my next window seat journey
I will end the post with an observation. How much ever Google boosts up its map/earth service, it will never match a view from aeroplane. Plus the eye vision is wider compared to cramped up computer screen :) Do mention your wishlists in the comment if you like :)

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