Singapore to Mumbai: A Photographic Journey

Most of our trips to Mumbai have been evening flights and so there was nothing to see outside. We’ve done day flights regionally, but I can only remember two other daytime flights to Mumbai in the last 20 odd years. Both times, we flew Singapore Airlines and both flights were in wide-bodied planes, perhaps an Airbus. Earlier this year, when I flew to India, I flew Vistara, the airline that was created due to a partnership between Singapore Airlines and the Indian conglomerate, the Tata Group. Vistara uses a smaller aircraft which is single aisle and so probably flies much lower in the air compared to Singapore Airlines flights. So this time around, I enjoyed the flight because I could see the ground while flying. Up until we entered the Bay of Bengal, I enjoyed the scenery below and took many photographs of the journey. This photographic essay is the result of that trip. My apologies if I shared some photos previously.

This scene greeted me almost as soon as the plane took off from Singapore’s Changi airport. You can see the buildings of Changi in the left and the National Service Resort & Country Club in the front and centre.

A minute later, this is one of Singapore’s offshore islands, maybe Pulau Ubin or Pulau Tekong.

About 30 minutes into the flight, we were flying over the Malaysian peninsula, probably flying over the North South expressway, on the way to the country’s capital of Kuala Lumpur.

About 45 into the flight, you can clearly see the island of Penang and the famous Penag bridge.

The next island is the island of Langkawi, which lies almost on the border between Malaysia and Thailand. We visited the island more than a decade back and have very fond memories of the place and hope to visit it again soon.

About an hour and 40 minutes into the flight, we flew over the Thai island of Krabi.

After Thailand, we veered course to fly over the Bay of Bengal and try as I much wanted to, I could not see much out of the window and the next time I saw something interesting, we were flying over Ahmednagar in my home state of Maharashtra, about 20-25 minutes before we landed in Mumbai.

This photo was taken as we approach Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus for landing into Mumbai. This is the Vashi Bridge which seperates Mumbai from Navi Mumbai or New Bombay, the planned city and part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Seeing the bridge brought back so many Mumbai memories of school trips and seeing the bridge I know we are on the verge of landing into Mumbai.

We were on our descent for landing and this is taken just a couple of minutes before touchdown. This is most likely the Eastern Express Highway in Vikhroli East, a few seconds before landing in Mumbai.

And finally touchdown after flying about 5.5 hours. I was back in the city of my birth after more than two years. But now I doubt I will fly into Bombay anytime soon, but never say never!

I hope you enjoyed this photographic journey as much as I liked searching through the photos I took during the flight and remembered my journey.

Journeys – Part Deux

In my last post about this topic, I had written that I will write about two plane trips that were most memorable.

The first trip was in January 2009, when I flew Jet airlines from Singapore to New Delhi and back. The onward trip was pretty uneventful and I don’t remember seeing much excep when we were very close to Delhi but the return trip was beautiful. The flight was an early morning one and since it was January it was bitterly cold. The airline was a small one, with a three seat aisle configuration. I think since the plane was a small one, it did not fly very high. So seated in the window seat, with Boone next to me, I was able to see the landscapes below. I could see india’s landscape as we flew past and at the exact same point we left continental india, somewhere between Puri and Bhubaneswar in the state of Orissa in India’s eastern coast, I happened to look out of the window. It was a beautiful sight and I could clearly make out the graduations from the browns of the beach to the turquoise of the shallow waters to the deep blues of the Bay of Bengal with all shades of blue in between. After that I quit watching the in-house entertainment channels and was just watching the scenery below me. I also kept the flight path open to check where we were. This way I knew when we flew over the gorgeous islands of the Andaman and Nicobar and also when we entered land again somewhere off the island of Penang. Mainland West Malaysia was beautiful from the air, and I could actually see the shadow the aircraft made on the buildings and on the ground. All said and done, I was happy to be home back in Singapore.

The other unforgettable trip was the day I flew when my hometown Mumbai was being held hostage by 11 gunmen. I woke up that morning feeling very excited and happy as by nighttime I would be home! But my sister called me soon from the US where she was at that time asking me if I was going to travel after all – this was a real shock for me and I wanted to know the reason why she asked such a question. When she told me about the gunmen, my first reaction was that of it being a big joke. Then I did what I always do when faced by something new – went online and started reading the news. My inlaws also called me to check if I was flying that night. I had to come in to work that day for the morning half, but I was totally unproductive and spent the whole morning calling my parents in Mumbai, calling the airline to check if the flight will take off and going online to read the news and see images and videos. What I saw was chilling, but when my dad said he managed to get someone to come with him to the airport and when the airline said the flight was going on as scheduled, I was determined to go. My inlaws were not too happy, but I didn’t want to waste my ticket and perhaps my entire vaccation. Also this time I was flying alone with D & P and S was coming after two weeks.

At the airport, it was calm, and I also got interviewed by Channel News Asia for the evening news. They wanted to know my reactions on what was happening in my hometown and also if I was feeling safe travelling. The flight was full and uneventful, although everyone was feeling stressed about what would happen once we landed in Mumbai. The airport in Mumbai was eerily empty and everyone was glued to the television screens which was showing the live action at the Taj Hotel and the Trident Hotels – scenes which will stay with us forever I think. I met my parents and the journey home which would take almost an hour due to the traffic took us just under 20-25 minutes, thats how deserted the streets were!

These two plane journeys are something that have been etched in my head. Maybe in the future there will be more such journeys (more of the first and none of the second please!).

Journeys – Part 1

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.