I remember my first flight vividly. I boarded the plane not through an aero bridge, the tube like, grey, boring way of getting into flights. I got on the plane, as the doors hissed open and the stairs fell at my feet, like a heroine, I stepped onto the first step. Aero bridges now put me off. I have always liked the machine air of a plane chasing me till I stepped inside the cabin.
It was five in the evening, and eveything around me was lit in those happy, Sunny, single tone Colours wax crayons used to be come in.
Kingfisher airlines was known for their very pretty air hostesses and for domestic air travel that wasn’t “Air India” .I shamelessly gawked at each one of them. My mind was screaming “They’re only people.” But my eyes refused to look away from the impeccable ness they were. My shirt was XL and too tight. A few of them smiled down on me, benevolently and I grinned back, like a perfect idiot.
When the flight took off, sunlight streamed in. I say ” streamed” , because it was so beautiful, it filled the vivid red cabin to a memorable scarlet. I look back to see if my father noticed that.Hesmiled at me. He didn’t notice anything. I don’t return the smile and go back to gluing my nose to the window.
This was also the era of digital cameras. Where a 10 megapixel camera was all the excuse you needed to switch to “macro” mode and embark on a disturbing course where all the pictures you took, involved lying down. Buttons. Rugs. Idli. Anything, with an excuse of a texture to it was brutalised. One such camera, I owned too. I took so many dirty pictures of the sun, the clouds, the sky. The heavens must have issued blatant indecency warrants against me. Like pornography for instance.
I walk/ tumble across the aisle and reach my father and show him the pictures. He is disgusted and worried about my future as a citizen,still, he tells me I am an artist. I roll back happily to my seat and click more pictures. If I would have listened better, I could have heard my parents sighing.
I get down from the flight, the happiest fat kid in town.
Today, I write this, sitting next to my colleague who has boarded a plane for the first time. When it took off, the generally genial person in him was gone. He lit up. All adjectives and grammar were lost to him. The city of chennai hung like an expensive tapestry off an ancient wall, as the flight tilted. He looks at me.
” Lighting…… ” , he says and looks out of the window again and before my face could lose the smile, he turns back and says ” Super!”. I haven’t stopped smiling, we are about to land now and the city of Hyderabad makes its grand entrance.
“Zeenath”, he says and points at the window. He hasn’t regained his grammar or vocabularily yet. I crane my neck and look. The city of Hyderabad looks like scattered pearls and peices of gold. Nizam’s fortune. We descend. My colleague will definitely have to do something tomorrow about his neck pain. The person refuses to look away from the window for even a second, except to point at more lights and exclaim.
Home, at last, the familiar Telugu fills my heart with ease and my head with a numb indifference I missed, trying to decipher Tamil in chennai.