That Time I Woke Up In India: The Flight To Delhi (8.9.2008)

Yes, I’ve started from the literal beginning of the journey. After all, plane flights are quite enjoyable. Most of the time…

I should have known then and there how the trip was going to be. I initially sat behind two old Indian women who had already reclined their seats to a very uncomfortable position for me. Even better, they were sitting in the wrong seats, but they insisted on staying together, so the people were supposed to sit there gave up their seats.  But you know, it wasn’t really a big deal, since the people who were supposed to sit there were complete strangers so they didn’t really mind. I personally was dreading meeting my seat buddy, since a seat buddy can make a plane trip bearable if he just doesn’t talk and watches his own screen and/or falls asleep, or just a living hell by making awkward conversation during the course of which I would divulge my school, my age, my birthplace, which side of the bed I sleep in, and other bits of personal information and generally distracting me from my movie enjoyment time. Yes, I’m anti social. So what?

Anyways, it turned out that my seat buddy was a large middle-aged Indian gentleman who didn’t seem to be the social type, but he seemed like someone who would judge me severely for being young and alone on a plane to India. Probably judge the way I dressed, too. Yes, I’m also surprisingly self-conscious. I guess it’s because I was a young Asian boy traveling to a distinctly non-Asian India alone? Hmm? I would later realize that if I were to survive in India with my sanity intact, I’d have to learn not to give a damn even if people were looking at me as if they were looking at some alien life form.

Luckily, a Korean gentleman saved me from my pit of self-consciousness by asking me if I would switch seats so that his group could be together. Of course I obliged, since my new seat wasn’t too far back and it was an aisle seat. Speaking of which, aisle seats are the best on long distance flights since you can go to the bathroom without feeling bad about stepping over your seat buddies and making them feel uncomfortable. Yes, seat buddies do experience discomfort when you step over them. So think twice before going to the bathroom every time you finish one of those short films that they have on planes.

So I escaped the two Indian ladies and my judgmental seat buddy to a marginally younger Indian guy, who seemed to show as much interest in me as a vegetarian would in an Angus steak. Although in my previous section I was accompanied by a spattering of Koreans, Indians surrounded me in my new seat, all of who (with the exception of my seat buddy) seemed to know each other. It was a very intimidating environment, but if I was intimidated, I’m guessing the stewardesses were terrified out of their minds. I mean, even before takeoff, they were patrolling the aisles, checking to see who ordered vegetarian or not, and occasionally fetching a cup of water for an Indian gentleman. I mean, on most flights people don’t really call the stewardesses unless they’re REALLY thirsty or someone’s dying of a heart attack or they suddenly got an urge for those peanuts that they give out. I guess that’s not the case on flights to India. I mean, people were calling the stewardesses right and left for everything except for someone dying of a heart attack. No, no one actually died of a heart attack, though I did feel like a little part of me died inside every time someone buzzed for a stewardess. Yes, I felt the necrosis settling down on my soul. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but it sounds cool.

On this flight, I was miraculously able to stay awake during take-off. In recent years, I have found that I tend to pass out on the runway and wake up right when they start serving refreshments. However, this time I stayed awake long enough to see the seatbelt sign go off, and then I passed out. Naturally, I missed the refreshments and barely woke up before dinner. Dinner was an adventure. I was in the midst of evidently Hindu people, yet I had the nerve to order beef. I mean, I thought it would be the last time I would eat beef for a while. Oh well, no one seemed to care. Lucky me.

After dinner, I started watching a movie. My first choice was obviously Iron Man. I’d seen the movie before, but hey, it’s Iron Man. There’s not much I would pick over Iron Man. Unless it was Forrest Gump or something with Zooey Deschanel (mmm Zooey Deschanel) in it, but they usually only showed really new or really old movies. And this was before Slumdog Millionaire came out, so don’t say I should’ve seen that. Slumdog I shall talk about later, like, really later. Anyways, Iron Man was lots of fun, and then I decided to watch the only Bollywood movie on the list, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. At least, that’s what I think the title was. It took me the entire flight to memorize the name but I thought that I still got it wrong (later research proved that I got it right.). It was an interesting film about a girl who went to Mumbai to support her family but ends up becoming a high-class prostitute. Yes, she did support her family, but the movie kinda got me scared about this city called Mumbai, with its glamour and dazzle and scariness. Again, good thing Slumdog didn’t come out before this trip, or I would have been scared out of my mind. During the movie, the inflight entertainment system reset itself so I was left staring agonizingly at a blank screen and then frantically searching to find the spot I was watching at. The movie ended in typical Bollywood fashion, with a happy ending in which the girl gets married to the lesser Bachchan. I would elaborate on the cast but since most people don’t know any Bollywood stars with the exception of Aishwarya Rai (by the way, her husband is the same lesser Bachchan), I won’t.

All the while, the plane was continuously meeting some kind of turbulence, which some would attribute to the great Chinese dragons dancing in honor of the Beijing Olympics, but the educated know that dragons don’t go near airplanes. I was curious why the plane was hitting so much turbulence, so I checked the flight route to see if we were deliberately flying into storms or something. Turns out we weren’t going in a curved line like most flights, but instead went straight to Shanghai and then turned west and went in a zigzag pattern south of the Himalayas. No wonder the plane was shaking like crazy. We were flying pretty close to some mountaintops that I hoped we would not crash into. I only packed summer clothing.

So, after the Bollywood flick, I watched Made of Honor, which was a nice movie, I guess, but it somewhat reminded me of the Bollywood format, what with the last minute saving the day bit and whatnot. Then I realized that most romantic comedies do that so I felt like an idiot. Anyhow, after a snack thing (I believe it was meant to be some sort of sandwich), we were landing in India, land of the Indians. And other ethnic groups.

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