I was actually going to post this yesterday, but was very tired at night and so decided to skip it. This is going to be a fairly long post, so in order not to bore anyone, I’ve decided to split it into two parts.
Living in Singapore, any trip you make out of the city involves needing to use your passport. So most children here have their own passports by the time they are a few months old and being a ‘first world country in a third world region’, these children have become seasoned travelers by the time they start school.
Life was very different when I was growing up in India. Although my hometown is India’s commercial capital – Mumbai – plane trips were never as frequent as they are now. Going on a flight used to be a huge thing and people dressed up for the occasion, unlike now where due to the proliferation of budget airlines, it’s like using the bus or train and we dress the same way.
The first time I flew in an airline was in the late eighties when I was around 12-13 years old. There was just Indian Airlines for domestic travel then and choice was something air travelers had only read about in foreign magazines. We flew from Mumbai (or Bombay as it was called then) to Bangalore where my paternal grandparents used to live. The memories are very fuzzy now after so many years, but I do remember being very disappointed with the airport in Bangalore as it looked like a bus station to me with no crowds and nothing of note inside the terminal.
Then fast forward a couple of years later and when I was about 14, I took my first flight alone. It was the summer holidays between my class IX and class X and my maths and science classes were starting, so I came back to Bombay alone. My dad who was also there in Bangalore with us dropped my at the airport and my maternal grandfather, who used to work with IA then picked me up at the airport. I then stayed the month with my maternal grandparents.
My first international flight was when I moved with my husband to Singapore. This was a few days after my wedding and I don’t really remember much as I was sobbing all the time because I had to leave my parents, sister, everything known and familiar to go to a new place to make a new life with unfamiliar and new people!
Now in my current job, I fly to various countries in the region two to three times a year. Add to this, holidays to India and other countries, I think I’ve come a long way and have become a confident and a blase flier!
There are more stories to come – two especially I want to put down. One is this incredible flight I took in early 2009 from Singapore to New Delhi and back and the other is the one about me taking a flight on 27 November 2008 – the day Ajmal Kasab and his colleagues from Pakistan held Mumbai hostage – a day that probably will be etched in my mind forever as it will be in every Mumbaikar’s mind. More about that tomorrow.