Monday, March 14, 2011

USA Part 1 - the trip

Even at this stage there was this little thought running in the mind, “what if I have forgotten some paper that is required.” We had heard stories of people returning back from the port of entry in the US (that is the immigration point in the airport after you step out of the flight). How would it be to get sent back just because you forgot some piece of paper!

“Does the US government take a return ticket for the person then?”

“They probably just get the original return ticket changed to current date.”

The thing with stories is that you never know what really happened – and I doubt anyone ever does. It goes through so many ears and mouths that by the time you hear it, it is distorted and magnified.

I had an aisle seat and so did my friend. There was an old lady sitting by my side – she seemed to be a North Indian. To my utter disappointment there was no game option in the entertainment console – movies were available but no games! And I was eagerly looking forward to playing a few games of chess – especially since the short naps helped me avoid fatigue. The couple of air hostesses I saw had quite a thick layer of makeup. It is funny how makeup attempts to hide the age of a person – the makeup looks almost perfect when seen in snaps but not so much when seeing the person live. The way the world is progressing, I guess pretty much a lot of the cosmetic stuff would be used by men as well (many already are!)

The fun of sitting in the aisle seat is that you can get up and walk around anytime you wanted. In the trip of 11 hours, I probably got up from my seat at least 7 times. So I’d eat, sleep, walk, eat, sleep, walk, eat, sleep, walk. The lady by my side was reading a novel whenever she was awake – but it was all French. On taking a second look at her, I guess she was French. It was a John Grisham book. For a while I tried to read along with her and realized that I had forgotten most of my French vocabulary!

The flight took a route that went above Prague (Czechoslovakia) – on route to this I could see ice capped mountains; I think they were part of the Alps mountain range. The scene looked beautiful from the top. Hmm – someday should drive through the Alps on a Ferrari. Watching movies in the flight is not too comfortable because you need to keep the volume in the headset really high. So I tried picking movies that had subtitles – I saw an English one (the movie Salt) and a Swedish one. The Swedish one was interesting - it touched upon many themes but all were tied together by an investigation – about abuse, blackmail, hacking, holocaust, detective work and photography.

The pilot announced that the temperature in London was 3 degree Centigrade! Whad roughly an hour to get onto the connecting flight at Heathrow. Not enough time to roam about the airport. Terminal 5 was huge – lengthy elevators going up three storeys but the number of staff seemed low. We struggled a little before figuring out that we had to take a little train ride to go to another section of the terminal for connecting flights. It was an internal metro. We roamed about the terminal for a few minutes. There was a huge cosmetics shop – in fact it seemed to be the largest shop in the Terminal; great business! We had our first whiff of sub 5 degree centigrade when we stepped out of the terminal to take a shuttle bus to the aircraft. Both of us didn’t have jackets and I noticed that most of the other passengers had some jacket and some even had boots. It was hardly a few seconds in the open but we immediately knew that it would be the breeze that is the problem. The next exposure came when we were waiting at the steps to climb into the aircraft – it was really cold.

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