I need to mention a bit about the late 80’s before I jump into what this ‘journey’ is all about. The time when I grew up as a kid. A couple of uncles and aunts of mine who are settled in the US, visited our home once a year, especially since we live in the ancestral home with our grandpa.
Their visits were always special since there was an aura to it. Other than being able to meet them, there was this thought that, they came from a place on the globe known as the ‘Land of Dreams’! It was even more interesting for me since these visits gave me an opportunity to go to the airport to pick up and later drop them back on their return. I guess my fascination towards anything to do with aircrafts started with these trips. Then of course, there always was those eager moments of opening of the huge travel bags which contained variety of unique things we get to see only once in a year!
All these experiences, I must say, created an out-of-the-world image about this place called The United States of America along with the fantasy of traveling on an aircraft. As a child I do remember running out of my house each time when I hear that distinct buzz of a plane and look up at the skies, spot the aircraft and watch it till it goes out of my sight… Those were wonderful moments of joy and I think even now, involuntarily, my head turns towards the sky when I hear that sound!
All these and more came to reality with my project team expected to visit Atlanta in the State of Georgia in the US! I was consciously trying hard, not to think much about it knowing how unpredictable travel plans in IT industry are. As the days neared, shopping done and bags ready, I must admit I was looking forward for experiencing my childhood dream coming true! In fact, I was more excited in the prospect of flying than visiting the US :)
It must be sheer irony that the first ever flight in my life, I was expected to take was Air France which just lost a flight after a lightning strike, with a couple of hundreds of passengers in the middle of Atlantic Ocean about a week before my designated date of travel! I didn’t feel nervous though, since I guess the excitement did override the concern.
The wait at the Bangalore Int’l airport exposed me to almost real time connectivity with the Wi-Fi available there. I promptly updated my status in Orkut and I loved the thought of my near and dear ones getting to know where I am almost at any given point of time :)
The class I flew was Economy and the itinerary was Bangalore-Paris-Atlanta with 2 hours of transit time at Paris. The experience of being seated in a flight was something which I felt was similar or even a bit less interesting than the local long distance buses which I take from Bangalore to Kerala! The only difference could be the presence of a small TV to your front and the regular supply of refreshments served by pretty flight attendants.
I loved the take off! The sudden increase in speed of the aircraft, once cleared to take off, pumps in so much of adrenalin that you seem to anticipate a mega event about to unveil right in front of yours eyes! The lift off and the climb added to the good feeling. I must say, compared to this experience, landing wasn’t that exciting.
The interim 2 hours of transit time at Paris exposed me to the ‘dry’ life of the Western World. In India we don’t get the feeling of being clean unless you use water. The rest room taught me one of the first lessons I need to learn for this short duration at least.
The flight above The Atlantic was magnificent! Cruise ships appeared as tiny spots in the ocean and the trail they left, reminded me of the jet trails we see while we look at the skies! At one point we were cruising at a height of above 40000 ft. The water drops that were on the window crystallized itself to ice and formed really interesting patterns. My camera, Canon A 590 IS, if she could speak, would’ve smothered me with her love for letting her capture every possible moment! :)
Finally after a combined flight of almost 22 hours we started our descent to the city of Atlanta in the state of Georgia, the World Head Quarters of Coca-Cola. As though the pilot wanted us to have a better view of the city, he went around in circles for a while before touching down. And there we were… In the Land of Dreams!!!