A decade back, while on a bus to Mussorie, I had written how Delhi was a city that acted as a jail. Punishing those within the premises and punishing harder the ones who tried to escape. That was about the roads, now a decade later, same can be said of the airways.
During the last few months, I have had numerous instances of flights that refused to either take off or land in time. One of the Air India flights that I took, this one to Mumbai, was 6 hours late. So, what do you do when you are the airport? If you are the T3 in Delhi or the international one in Mumbai, you can eat a lot (billed to the employer) and then walk to lose the calories. These airports are custom built for obsessive eating and compulsive walking. Airport delays can be immensely motivating experiences. The need to have proper diet and exercise one such example.
But what if you are stuck at a smaller airport? For example, Bhubaneswar. You walk into the filigree shop, buy something beautiful despite trying your best not to buy anything and then wait for the gods to gift you a girlfriend because you have none. Airport delays, at times, can act as those pauses in life that gift immense wisdom. The need for a girlfriend is one such example.
God forbid if you are stuck at an airport in Srinagar. The shops close by four in the evening, the staff and the travellers are gone. If you are too bored, you start taking photos and tweeting them until a follower reminds that it is a sensitive zone and you are breaking the law. So, airport delays can give political lessons too.
But it is not just the delays that can be learning experiences, there is a lot that you can learn inside the flight too. When a kid cries next to you, you learn patience. When the toilets are occupied for far too long, you learn control. When turbulence strikes, you learn love, for life. When you with all the web check ins and landing up at the airport three hours before flight time, you still get the middle seat, you learn about your chances in life.
On a serious note, we all crib about food in flights. But cooking for consumption on the ground and in the flight are not the same.
Both our sense of smell and taste buds suffer once we are at 30000 feet, says Russ Brown, director of In-flight Dining & Retail at American Airlines. “Flavour is a combination of both, and our perception of saltiness and sweetness drop when inside a pressurised cabin.”
The easiest way to combat that would be to order that extra spicy chicken and eat only potato chips. But it is more complicated than that. As I am starting preparations for a foreign trip, I pray for a flight that has no learnings, something that goes so much as per plan that it is boring. A few friends who have flown with Saudi airlines, swear by it. I am waiting for my first with them, will keep you updated.