Few years back, January Midnight:
Ladies and Gentleman, welcome aboard to flight UA 49 service from Mumbai to Newark, we are expected to be in the air in few minutes and we ask that the passengers be please fasten the seat belt… My mind stopped following the instructions of the air-hostess, moments after she informed that we would be up in the air in few minutes. While my body is tightened to the seat belt my thoughts already started wandering like an untamed horse. So this is it… cool dude, I patted on myself… This is happening. Finally I am travelling to America, the land of dream, to where every other colleague and friend of ,mine, wanted to visit. I am getting nervous now, not only because of the first time flight jitters but also I am trying to imagine myself in client location and the fear of how I would fit into this modern western culture.
Slowly thoughts of work and clients faded away and my idea of roaming in big cities and my imagination of walking in the middle of New York in slow motion with an awesome background music, was interrupted by Pilot’s commanding voice. Pilot was doing the regular preflight announcement and this was the first time I am hearing the Voice of a Pilot. He greeted us and said he is doing some preliminary testing and would be starting the flight in few minutes… Wow, unbelievable moment, even though I already switched off all my electronic items, I just took them and double checked if they are all indeed shut down. Really don’t want to be reason to bring down the flight by keeping my phone ON (well, that’s what I really thought). Exchanged smiles with nearby passengers and shook our heads with appreciation towards each other. For unknown reason it reminded me of high school public exam where I would smile at my next student before starting to look at my question paper.
Is the flight starting to move now? Just looked out through the window and was expecting the objects to move backwards but to my dismay they didn’t. Ok, wait… it probably would take some time, this is not a bike to just kick start it and vroom into 60 in few seconds. But what seemed like years just passed by but the flight doesn’t seem to move. I looked into fellow passenger and we exchanged an awkward smile… It would start to move shortly – he told me in a mild voice, not sure if he told me directly or just trying to calm himself. I smiled back. Again the Pilot’s voice, but this time with not so much of commanding tone like the first announcement. Apologies for the delay, few of our pre-run tests failed and we are working through this and would report back shortly. Appreciate your patience. What, would this even happen in a flight? I looked around and seems like everyone is upset and disappointed. The young gentleman wearing a tie and suit at this midnight (which I don’t found odd that time because my company even advised me to go in formals) explained me probably there is some software problem and used couple of aviation terms and suspect it might due to xyz & abc . I said “yeah yeah, I think so too” and nodded firmly just hoping to end the conversation.
Not sure if it was due to the uncomfortable conversation or the anticipation of flight to start or may be the combination, it felt like years before Pilot started another announcement. Sorry for the inconvenience and we would be starting now and he ran through the remaining announcements. Happiness all around the passengers with everyone again tightening the seat belts and adjusting their foot rest. The flight slowly started to move and it was out of the gate and into the run-way. Again a long wait here, Mr. Perfect sitting next to me explained may be they are waiting for the green signal from the air traffic control room. You see, like how the traffic constables on the streets are controlling the flow of traffic, these control room officers would look for air traffic and control when flights can land and when can they take off. Though it seemed interesting and would like to know more, I feel like I would like to rather enjoy the moment with my thoughts rather than taking aviation class. By this time people are all losing patience, uttering loud sighs and visibly showing their disappointments in many possible ways. Glanced at my watch and it’s already little past 2 AM a long wait of more than 3 hours since the butterflies started flying in my stomach, now even they are tired and went back to sleep I guess. Pilot’s voice again through the air… Sorry to announce folks that we will not be flying today and had to get back to gate as they need to look into the engine for the cause of the failure. Sigh… Everyone was totally disappointed while few are rather relieved that we are not going to fly with something questionable/faulty in the flight. Flight turned back to the gate and we were asked to go to the front desk to collect accommodation details.
Walked back with little disappointment but I was relatively happy to get to stay one more night at Mumbai, the Bollywood town and was half praying – maybe I will bump into some celebrity in the airport/hotel. I was given a nearby 4 star hotel, and when turned back saw that Mr. Perfect is walking towards me. Oh no.. Not to be offensive big shot, but I am in no mood to hear your intellectual stories and I just ran past and took the shuttle. Reached hotel and just slept like a baby. Next day, woke up by a call from front desk informing that our flight is scheduled to start in few more hours and this is a reminder call. Damn, dont want to miss my first ever flight and that too to the dreamland. Hurried fast and made sure nothing is missed and boarded flight on time. This time no butterflies, no jitters but was glad the flight took on time to USA.
This Kids, is the story of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (oh sorry not so soon…) well, this kids, is the story of how I came to America.