Hi everybody. This is Sheela Shenoy reporting from 37000 feet above sea level. My husband, the light of my life, the beacon of my existence, the polestar of my universe, the one and only Naren is flopped on the seat next to mine, giving his well known impression of an intermittently functioning motorboat, to my amusement and to the chagrin of the stout chap across the aisle who looks like an unusually cantankerous solicitor or accountant. Naren's snoring seems to be disturbing his perusal of some species of business newspaper. Ah well, into each life some rain must fall.
We are on our way back from Delhi where we had been to attend the wedding of a very dear friend's niece. The groom too was known to us very well. It was an event we were rather looking forward too, and it didn't disappoint.
The bride was someone both of us have known since she was a child. She has- and has always had- one of the most dazzling smiles I've ever seen and is extremely smart without being nerdy.
Unlike my husband. He is, or can be on occasions, extremely geeky, without being in the least bit smart. This can be irritatingly impractical. He spent a half hour once at an airport explaining to a completely disinterested kid why the sum of the first n natural numbers is n into n plus one over two and all the while we were being paged for boarding, earning us dark stares from our co-passengers and the crew. And if the kid grows up into a dysfunctional adult with an irrational fear of bespectacled people, you know who's responsible.
Speaking about geekiness, I am reminded of our courtship days -we had the old fashioned arranged marriage- when I was extremely was anxious to know what kind of a dweeb I was marrying. My sister advised me to find out from conversations. Since I was in Mysore and Naren in Bombay, the only way this could happen was over the phone.
Those conversations did not go well, let me tell you. The first time we spoke over the phone, after the hellos and the how-are-your-parentses, he explained to me why the square root of two is an irrational number. My first post-engagement phone conv and I get this!
The second time he told me what he thought about the planned economy - not much, apparently and I should care! - and the call after that was a detailed outline of Michael Porter's theory of Competition. When I tell you I went into this marriage in a state of despair, I'm sure you know exactly how I feel.
If Naren were ever captured by an Amazonian tribe and prepared for roasting on a spit, his escape plan would be to engage the headman in conversation and prove to him that the square root of two could not be expressed as a ratio of two integers. His reasoning being that the headman, upon seeing the proof, would immediately fall to his knees and the entire tribe would worship him as the god who did things to numbers. Which is why it is dangerous to marry engineers. But I'll leave that for another post.
Coming back to the topic at hand, viz. Delhi, I must confess I had a superb time. The weather was nice and chilled, if a little smoggy. A lot like Mysore in the winter, which made me nostalgic. To combat the blues that usually accompany nostalgia, I decided to squeeze in a session of retail therapy in which I managed to find some lovely footwear and shawls.
Naren is always cribbing about my alleged footwear obsession but he is easily silenced with a look. This time too, it was no different. One basilisk stare and he was following me like a lamb. And just to show him that I'm not obsessed with footwear, I bought myself a shawl, a stole, two kurtis and two salwar suit materials. So there. But to his credit, he carried all the bags faithfully and without complaint. It might be that he loves me. Then again, it might be that I let him have beer with his lunch. The latter, I guess.
And now here's the pilot mumbling something over the speaker. Flying over Baroda, 35,000 feet and other unsupported observations. I've always thought a pilot's job stressful, flying a whacking great can through the air at 800 km per hour, wondering all the while if that little monkey of a ground engineer has tightened all the bolts.
Of course, supeerficially, pilots have a great time because there is virtually no way of verifying if any of what they say is actually true. Statements like "We are flying at 35,000 feet" are the safest because no one is carrying a measuring tape, and even if they are, definitely not that big. Some pilots get carried away and tell you that the temperature outside is -40 degrees knowing fully well that you can't open the window and check for yourself.
But all of this does not make up for the stress of being an airline pilot. Take landings, for instance. I can well imagine the scene in the cockpit when the plane lands. Especially the way the pilot applies the brakes when the plane touches down.
You know how it is. The plane touches down, bounces a couple of times and then -and here I'm relying on my skills of logical deduction- the pilot presses the brake pedal really hard, probably with both feet, his hands clutching the armrests of his seat, or the steering wheel, if a plane has one, his knuckles white with the strain, the co-pilot hunched over with his head between his knees,sobbing out a prayer, hoping against hope that the bloody thing will come to a halt. And when it finally does come to a halt, the pilot, with shivering hands, probably pulls out his tucked-in shirt, trying to cover the fact that he has peed in his pants. I'm not saying that is what happens, but I'm willing to bet this is almost exactly it, scene for scene. This is what is going to happen today as well. I hope they manage to make it stop.
Ah, they're announcing our landing. In Mumbai, this usually means an half hour of circling, but hopefully today we'll be luckier.
The Spice Jet stewardesses have the most amazing singsong way of reading out the flight announcements and the safety drill. I haven't heard anything quite like this, including the "eternal god" prayer my sons are forced to say everyday in school. I am especially impressed by the announcements in Hindi, which sound exactly like Queen Elizabth the Second would, if she were given a crash course in Hindi speaking. I wonder what prevents them from speaking like normal people.
Bye for now, folks. I think the pilot will be going into his brake routine anytime now. I could use the laughs
Cheers and bye for now