11.45 PM , 21st April 2006. I woke up with a slight headache in a slanting chair. I saw city lights thru window. They were not bright. It cant be dubai.. its been only an hour since i boarded the 1 hour delayed bus-plane air india express. I rubbed my eyes and tried to look again.. and voila! the plane now is banking on to its right side.
"Is it dubai ?"
"No , its kochi, we have been circling the city for the past one hour... "
"Ladies and Gentleman, This is your pilot , Arun kochchad, we have a small technical issue and will be landing back in kochi. Unfortunately , we cannot land for the next 2 and half hours. Please bear with us. FYI , this is nothing serious...."
A malayalam announcement cut in " kshemikkanam... blah blah blah .. enthennal ... oru saangethika thakararu moolam ...."
we circled cochin at various angles for 2 and half hours, and then landed back in cochin international airport.
The engineers tried to correct the "SLAG" (that was exactly what the malayalam announcement said) for about an hour and gave up.
Meanwhile, the guy sitting near me was frantically typing an sms. Ooooh! he switched on a mobile in the airplane ?
I sent two smses saying "Flight delayed by more than 4 hours".
We then were asked to "Deplane".. and board a standy-by air india express.
air india express middle rows 13,14,15,16 ... aah you cannot recline because of the emergency exit.
three seats on the left and three seats on the right. in between the left and right seats there is just enough space for a person to stand (giggle).
30 or more rows.
if the second or third passenger has to get up .. the whole row has to get up.
food is banana chips , rotten puffs and tea.
and as my friend seetharaman rightly remarked , they are truly a budget airline, they fly you for 6 or 7 hours, even when you pay for a 3 and half hour journey :-)
6 AM : i landed at dubai ... to top it all , i was expecting my baggage to get lost or the visa sheet in my passport to be torn , or be emptied for suspicious looking bottle of mango pickle..
none of that happened .. and i am back in the desert!
trying to smile ... trying to digest the fact that .. i am actually becoming a disgusting gulf malayalee!