As chance would have it, I am flying to Bangalore right now - a 6.30AM departure, which necessarily meant waking up early.
But then I received a message from Jet Airways, last night, that since our aircraft was parked on a remote parking bay at the international terminal of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), we would need to report 90 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. That is a real pain in the ass.
My cab did not turn up at 5AM and Neeti so sweetly agreed to drop me. I suspect that the cab played truant because of the Bharat Bandh proposed for today. Luckily, our building's security guard got me a cab from the fuel station next door. I was happy that Neeti could steal a few more winks!
At the airport, I bought an Assam tea as a salve for my throat from the Cafe Coffee Day outlet at Terminal 1B. With my tea cup in hand, I boarded the bus to take us all to the parking bay.
The best thing about this short 10-minute ride is that you end up going all around the periphery of the airside, around Runway 14-32, getting a full view of Runway 9-27 with all magnificent carriers from exotic lands taxiing, landing and rotating!
A little smart boy, about 5 years old sat next to me - he was nattily dressed in a red t-shirt and was clutching a smart bag with cartoon characters on it. (I don't even know some of these characters - blame it on the generation gap!) It was evident that the smart young lad and his mom had flown in from the United States on a red-eye as they were carrying United boarding passes.
The boy's eyes widened, to what I imagine would be a diameter of an inch on seeing massive aircraft parked on the international side. There was a majestic Air-India Boeing 747-400 royally parked on the left of our bus. The boy innocently asked "Mumma, does this big plane really fly?"
I was so reminded of my days as a toddler, when I used to fly with my folks. Those early days of flying kindled my interest in aviation to such a burning passion that I so badly wanted to become a commercial pilot. As fate had it, my myopia stopped me from going that way. But I do get massive goose bumps, the size of adolescent pimples, when I steal a glimpse of the cockpit while boarding or disembarking! I am a great believer in Karma and I hope God grants me my wish in my subsequent births.
Just at that moment, a Kenya Airways Boeing 767, which had touched down, from Nairobi, moments before, taxied right beside us toward its parking bay. The boy looked amazed to see it beautiful green-red-black livery on the tail!
Man! This beauty, "The Pride of Africa", as the fuselage of the aircraft so boldy said, comes from so close to my motherland, Uganda! The very sight of this beauty made me so badly want to go back there that it hurt! I hope I am able to do that soon - fly on this Kenyan beauty to Nairobi and onward to Entebbe! I tried grabbing a quick picture of this pretty Kenyan jet on my BlackBerry, but it turned out to be far too grainy to be uploaded here.
It seemed to be an African morning at CSIA - an Ethiopian Boeing 767 was pushing back for its departure to Addis Ababa - nostalgic again for I was there in Addis Ababa, way back in1981!
All that nostalgia made me teary eyed, as our Boeing 737-800 rotated on full throttle towards Bangalore!