My work makes me travel almost every week and I ferry into the air first flight in the Monday morning. As soon as I take my seat, I wake up when I reach my destination, this supplement my sleep routine which I had missed while leaving bed early for my early morning flight.
During childhood days and then college days I used to look at the sky to see the flying objects, it was like – oh I just want to board into flight at least once – Back in India middle class family usually travel in trains, busses and in their own cars. 10 yr back very few people had liberty to fly. I guess reasons were – 1. No necessity of going one place to another place as usually people – their office and relatives used to be close – within 100-200 km radius. 2. Life was not as fast and demanding as it’s now a days. 3.) Indian middle class has attitude of saving the money – they usually had habit of not spending in travel or luxury. This changed a lot due to IT outsourcing and recent economic growth. People are moving to far away cities for work and business.
Since I started business travel, I have to travel freequently so the dream of flying is turning into reality where I want to dream not to fly anymore – but at the time when flying and keeping myself away from family is stressful, there are some positive sides of travel.
Return flight is fun, it’s like you are in a brainstorming boot camp where all kind of species sitting together and busy in their own activities. People are in different thinking mode – different world, they are reading, listening music and introducing each other in a way that they are going to be good friends going forward – but as soon as they get out of plane , they again get busy in their usual official , family stuff and leave that state of mind behind. Sometimes I feel this is best state of mind where new ideas are coming and forcing me to think beyond normal routine. For some of the passengers, 1.40 hr flight is so long as they are not able to sleep or do not have anything to do – but for others it’s the place to interact, and exploration of their own intellectuality. Lady next to me is in deep sleep while another person next to me is diving deep into reading. I am unfortunately in the middle seat – usually I sit on the aisle seat but in lure of sitting in the front row I chose to sit in the middle of these two different species. In the next row, someone is flattering – of course this person is trying to utilize all the time – too short for him – to keep someone talking endlessly. Back in the row two ladies are endlessly smoothly discussing something. I too muted my eyes for a while. Sometimes a short sleep is quite relaxing.
Most of the weekly travelers wait for Thursday or Friday - like they are going to get the best of the world – as they say – without facing the heat, you won’t be able to understand the value of shade. So when these people are away from their family and near ones for 3-4 days they are desperately waiting for the comeback and even they are tired after a hectic day, and all the commute, - eagerness to meet them back thrills them with utmost energy and calm in mind – and that is why they are able to think extraordinary things during their return flight. This is quite opposite mental state I along with other commuters have on Monday morning.
Another interesting part of travel is meeting new and passionate taxi drivers back and forth from airport to office. Today, I met a different RACE of driver than I usually meet during my ride in NYC city, I told him hey first time I am seeing a Chinese driver, usually I see Either Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani Drivers- He nodded his head in acceptance and replied back that it’s very difficult for him to identify the country of those south Asian drivers– but yeah most of them are from Indian subcontinent – He is from Vietnam and like most of the drivers he lives with his family in Queens area of NYC. Most of the cabbies I met live in queens area and the good thing for me is when I say I need to go LaGuardia Airport, they are most of the time happy as their home is quite near, they change the shift around 5 PM, So when my Vietnamese friend ends his shift - he is going to hand over his cab to another cabbie. He makes good money, I met some drivers who are doing this job for many years, have their own cab(s) and their own NYC license which is very difficult and expensive to get. Most of the drivers do not like America but still like to stay here to make more money and to enjoy the liberty of freedom and peaceful life. He speaks mandarin language so his English is not very good, I told him distinction about Indian subcontinent drivers – that if he does not speak very good English then he is probably Bangladeshi otherwise either Pakistani or Indian. That’s not always true but most of the time – reason is – I discovered during the chat with another cabbie that America has lottery system for Bangladeshi immigrants; hence its luck not the ability/skill brings them to this dreamland (?). On Contrary, Bangladeshis are one of the sharp and intelligent people I met so far, I don’t think just English language makes someone to qualify into sharp/intelligent pool, sharpness is natural, its gifted talent. NYC cabbies drive their cab like we drive cars in Indian bazaar, very rude, and zigzagging – I feel kind of nausea sometimes.
People - in general - criticize that India needs to build their infrastructure and their service sector, but here in NYC also I find the things in bad shape, one morning while crossing an over bridge on my way to office I had to get into this elevator where someone urinated, Smell was reflecting that it’s not the country but public which makes the difference.
I always like the trip from O’Hare to home back because the person who drives me home is an extraordinary, happy face - a good singer, very talented who always wins the heart of his passengers during ride. Also the ride is quite smooth when I compare the zigzagging and fast pace NYC ride. I’m not sure why some new Yorkers don’t like Midwest – they need to survey the roads definitely – which makes my ride more smooth and convenient.
Oh my ears are stuffed – clouds are disappearing to make the place in window for Michigan lake and widely spread city of Chicago, the lady – I would not call airhostess beautiful and charming and so forth because American airlines keeps these aged ladies who are very rigid, rough and tough, very rarely they are customer supportive, they are also too tired of flying in those old planes to the same place every other day, this dream job is no more interesting for them too, oh yeah so lady is asking me to tighten my seat belt, move my seat upward and switch off the electronics, we are about to land !