But the wait wasn’t long. The bus reached the aircraft after a lot of stopping for moving traffic and a signal here and a signal there from the marshals. All the while, Mr.Suave kept talking to that someone, and it was troubling me. And I strained myself to look at whoever it was, but it was impossible, there were one too many people on that little bus. However, that struggle came to an end soon, and we were at the aircraft.

I was so eager to get on the airplane, that I was one of the first few people to get off the bus and onto the airstair. I noticed that the airstair had, painted on it,”Stairway to 35,000ft” and I just imagined, what if, they gave the paint job to a Led Zeppelin fan, and he got into the flow and went on to paint “Stairway to heaven” on it, that’d be hilarious. Another air hostess, also really pretty, also wore a lot of make-up and the same old fake smile, again greeting me like she’s really been waiting for me to alight on this plane and it’s been her life mission to serve me. Well, I smiled too, obviously. It’s really frustrating when people just take their own time and never budge or even wait a little to shove that case in the overhead baggage shelf to let others pass. Everyone is always in a hurry to do their own thing, like I said. But this part of waiting to get to your seat in a queue is not frustrating because you have to wait. It’s frustrating because it’s awkward. Once you’ve gotten yourself on the plane, you think to yourself, “Okay, you’ve reached the plane, this means you didn’t mess up. Just got to reach your seat, dump your hand baggage and chill. But no! You have to stand in my way and make me awkward. There’s someone right in front of you, stretching to put in their luggage in the overhead bin, you try and go around them in that tiny space,(god save that heavy human being) and in that time, they’re done scoring that point and will straighten themselves. At that point, it’s just a battle in your mind between jumping back onto the queue or falling in front, not considering dying for your cause. I wanted to yell at this person, I really did. You can say things to strangers that you would feel bad about saying to someone you know. Maybe it’s the lack of sense of obligation, maybe it’s just the extra satisfaction you get out of projecting yourself bigger than you actually are. I didn’t bother. To either think about it, or yell at that person. They sat in their seat, I hurried to mine, as more people filled the airplane from the door in the rear. I reached my seat, 15F and saw that another guy, who looked like he was about 25, and had come straight from a gymnasium in Haryana all with the sweatpants and metal bracelets, occupied 15E. Ah, heck. By this time, I had lost all hope. I just sat there, and strained my neck and widened my eyes to look for where the girl was entering from now. She got in from the front entrance, that meant her seat number was anywhere from 1-15. That was a 50% betterment of chances. I waited, watched and tried my best to cloud my line of sight. I would say I was quite successful at that. She crossed 4, 8, 11, and I just went yes, yes,yes, in my mind, obviously, and she looked up one last time at the seat numbers. I could read her perfectly shaped lips in slow motion as she read the number and violins played the deepest tragedy in my head. Seat number 13E.

This was it. I decided in that moment, that I was going to be very vocal about what I wanted. I couldn’t let go of things and let people walk over me. I was going to be very firm about what I needed and wanted. All this went through my mind in a matter of five seconds, and people were still getting on board, when I saw that I 15D was also occupied by a lone travelling guy. 14D was the only seat even close to me that was empty, and I still prayed. I was still mentally praying when I saw it.

Remember that list I told you about, which we all make of people we would and would NOT like to have as co-passengers ? That list has Satan somewhere at the top in the ‘would not’ part, and above Satan, somewhere, are plane bombers. You know who comes above plane bombers ? This next co-passenger I saw approaching seat 14D. Snug in his throne, his mother’s arms, showing combinations of fingers to people, and nobody did shit. Babies. They top the list. The lesson I learned that day, is that if you think a ‘miss’ in your fortune cookie would be lovely, you’re wrong. What you will get, in fact, is a misfortune cookie. And good luck to you with that, person !

Now this great feeling was just sinking in, and I tried to keep my head down and smile without feeling or looking like a maniac. There was only one way to get through this flight now. To get myself to fall asleep, and wake up only when the plane reached Hyderabad. As the plane started moving, the air hostesses took their spot to explain the emergency procedures and rules. As usual, nobody paid any attention. Nobody wanted to seem like it was the first time they were travelling in an airplane. But I always pay attention to the whole affair. I like to, because 1) the poor people have actually prepared for their little performance, and 2) there’s a constant struggle inside me to actually catch a pinch of embarrassment in them as they do their routine, to see how new the person is to this job. This particular woman did not really seem to care. Three sentences into the usual stuff, (I don’t even remember what they always say, even after listening to them so many times) the voice said, “Seats 1,12 and 13 are XL seats with extra leg room and emergency exits” and continued with the bull. I might have slapped my head hard at that time with both my hands. I just tried to push myself to sleep, by shutting off all those sad sights. I had almost given up on this journey, and we hadn’t even taken off yet. Eyes closed, reclined in my seat which “had to be straight” for take off, I felt a soft thud on my seat, and a kid’s voice with a very hard British Accent, saying, “Owe mai gawsh, Mommy ! Look ! Ducks !” and I sat upright, eyes wide open in utter shock. I wanted now to pray for this plane to never take off. But I did not want to stay in Delhi for another second. I just thought I should be optimistic and try to make this journey bearable. I decided to look out the window, and saw a bunch of storks. It wasn’t even ducks. Or maybe it was cranes, or herons. Whatever they were, they weren’t ducks, and that pissed me off more than the kid’s accent. I thought I should turn around and actually tell the kid that those weren’t ducks. I didn’t know what they were, but they weren’t ducks for sure. And the mother wouldn’t correct him. I had to start taking control. But I decided against it, and just continued with taking out my book and reading it. As the plane was taking off, I noticed the air vents circulating the air in the airplane, and that all the passengers had almost fallen asleep, including myself. There was a surprising silence in the air, and that made me suspicious. No one would really know, if the air circulated in the airplane had been tampered with, to make everyone fall asleep, right ? But I was too sleepy to think, and just decided to sleep, with my cold and sore throat making my condition worse.

In the next one hour, Air Hostesses walked by, served food, water, helped babies, babies who cried, people messed with their overhead baggage, talked loudly to each other, and all this while, I was in hell. My buddy, Brit-brought up, had been constantly kicking my seat and humming something in a monotonous tune, something about ducks, maybe. Or was it about taking off, or about Indigo. I cannot seem to remember, but it was irritating as hell. I couldn’t bear it. It was time. I tried to picture what and how I would say to him. I pictured myself getting up and turning around to face him, with my seat in between. It wouldn’t have a proper impact. I decided against it. Then I thought maybe I should talk to his mother. No, that would seem too formal, and I’d seem like a villain who hates kids. I do hate disobedient kids, and I won’t deny that, but you can’t really blame me. They require another level of patience. After a lot of deliberation, I had set for a course. To not do anything and take it all in.

Then came another turning point in this shole of a flight. You might now think the thing became worse. Oh how fun it is to watch other people suffer. You might now think the journey became better maybe. Sorry, wrong guess, not even that. What happened was the journey came to an end, the Dawoods and the kids and the air hostesses all got into the same buses and returned never to be on the same plane again. Never had to think about Mr.Suave and Ms.Pretty again, never did see them again. Before alighting, I had this question as to why they ask people to keep the window panels open during take off and while landing. I could probably initiate a conversation with one of the air hostesses about this on the bus, or while getting of the plane. Then the thought of Quora crossed my mind, and I chose to walk away silently.

So here’s the thing about journeys:

You think a lot, you talk a lot less than you think you did, and the journey comes to an end more abruptly and you’re out of your Shawshank before you know it, much like this post.

Thank you for not giving up on this journey midway.