I saw the kids, all Indian boys and girls between 8 and 10, as we went through security at the Coimbatore airport, a bunch had their bags re-checked manually, careless packers, obviously. They had some type of uniform on. I saw them again at the gate. I wondered where they would be sitting. They all seemed super excited. I didn’t really pay attention after that and since I was in row 1, didn’t notice where they sat.
As we taxied to takeoff at 11:15 AM IST, it was just another flight. Except I had an aisle seat with an empty seat to my left, very rare for a domestic Indian flight that was fully booked. I guess someone didn’t make their flight for some reason.
Anyways, the plane accelerates for takeoff and I heard the entire back 10 rows erupt in oohs and ahs and whoas and wows and screams. Then it reached peak decibels as we took flight. I didn’t look, but I’m sure all the kids had their hands in the air waving them with as much enthusiasm as they sounded, like they’re on a rollercoaster.
Gotta love the kids. They remind us how boring we get as we get older. I looked around and everyone was smiling.
When we landed in Hyderabad about an hour later, I was first in line to get off the plane. When the door popped open, a dude was there asking if I was Mr. Jon William Long, “going to Dehradun?”. He then escorted me to a bus void of people except the driver, then to a makeshift security table on the tarmac, back in the bus and straight to another plane. Same seat as the last flight. I walked up the steps from the 110 degree tarmac into a plane void of passengers.
The Indigo flight attendants, a step up from the Spice Girls on SpiceJet, have buttons on their sleeves that say “Girl Power”. They greeted me on board like a prince, then gave me a bottled water. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but I never get boarded first in India, and never have been offered a beverage anywhere in the world before takeoff, when not in first class. So, this made my day.
The first person that boarded, 15 minutes later was my friend and colleague, Syed. I haven’t seen him since April, so it was great to visit with him before we took off for Dehradun.
I feel much better today than the past week. I even ate an entire cucumber, lettuce and cheese sandwich on white bread. That is something I never do.
Now, doing Doon for a week or so.