I had a sizeable 20++ hours of flying. I slept for most of the legs, though uncomfortably. I can fall asleep in many settings, no matter how uncomfortable and painful. Sitting up and with the person in front reclining and ruining my personal space, I still fell asleep for random durations. Here was my itinerary: JFK –> London Heathrow –> Dubai –> TRV
The American Airlines leg to London was uncomfortable. I had a intermittently screaming baby diagonal to me and headphones that hurt my ears even more. I shouldn’t complain too much, as I was a fussy baby myself. A Hispanic baby would shriek and cry on and off. A few too many times, I was shaken awake by the screams. I couldn’t even distract myself with the movie I wanted to watch, “No Strings Attached” or tune out. So for 8 hours, I tried extra hard to hit the internal snooze button. A few more devilish babies were situations on my final flight to India, but they were farther from my ears’ reaches that I could ignore successfully.
London Heathrow Airport was the most I walked around Europe, a foreign land I only dream of going to. I arrived at an awkward time, 6:30 am, when all was quiet and dreary. Rain started to come down, pitter pattering. Skies were gray and drab. I had to take a terminal bus to get to the right connection flight, and that was the most I explored London: air traffic controllers, underground basement and construction parts, fenced areas, and one dizzying bus ride. I passed time with my pleasure read, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” before taking a trip around the London [Airport] shops. Not like I bought anything, since I was carrying useless wads of rupees in Europe. And it was strange hearing the British accent live, in person, with my ears, and not on TV. Through security check, a British man directed me in the right direction and a brown girl with a British accent asked me to take out my fluids; it shouldn’t be such a spectacle, but it was interesting interacting with the British.
From London to Dubai, I switched to Royal Brunei, and from Dubai, I connected to Emirates. Oh, service and environment were soooooo much better. The flight attendants were more attractive beauties. The passionately violet seats were snuggly and spacious. No need for business class, when I have Royal Brunei and Emirates! The headphones worked and food was getting more appetizing. On the more luxurious international flights, I sat back to watch “What Women Want” (Andy Lau, Gong Li) three times because I fell asleep randomly and play games like Tetris and Blockanoids. The games were addictive, nearly tiring me out by arrival time. I had hours to kill, but I did not kill the game. When I got frustrated, I gave a big sigh and went to sleep. I woke up with renewed energy, ready to tackle Level 2, only to be shot down and embittered. Boo hoo…
Though I felt fat by the time I got off in India because of all the bread rolls I digested and lack of mobility, I enjoyed my main meals of chicken, fruits, and desserts. Thank goodness for small portions! On every flight, no matter how far I fall into a deep sleep, I always sense the food coming down on wheels like it’s a savage instinct. I awake just in time for juice and entrees and snacks. I had everything from biryani chicken/basmati rice to cous cous salad to caramel ice cream to yogurt salad and pudding. Complimentary on Emirates was wine and let’s say I enjoyed it so much I started feeling sleep soon after dinner. I was in a well-fed state by the end of my journey.
Dubai International Airport was fabulously beautiful. I took pictures of the central garden and flowing water. Stunning, clean, and picturesque. At first I felt strange snapping pictures of the airport, but then I saw a couple of Korean guys stand around to take shots of the pretty airport and I felt less awkward.
The final leg of the trip was aboard Emirates to Trivandrum. I arrived at an inconvenient time of 3:20 am, after which my friend and I waited out until daylight. To pass time, we watched “Source Code” with Jake Gyllenhaal, one of many movies I would end up watching in the span of 5 weeks…
I’d like to put forth that minority status feels genuinely weird. To London, there were plenty of whites and some Asians. Aboard Royal Brunei, there were more Arabs and Southeast Asians. At Dubai, there was a flock of Koreans. By the Emirates leg, I got to the gate with my classmate and took a good look around. Yep, I was the lone Asian girl with pale skin, almond eyes, and black hair. I stuck out like a bleeding ulcer. At least my friend could pass off as a brown guy, and probably even more if he grew a beard and got more tan. Me, I was going to be a lost cause; I could not hide or blend in behind sarees. Oh boy do I have stories from the streets of India… =/