Sunday, December 20, 2009

america bound

Breakfast on KLM.
My sister Natasha and I just underwent what felt like the longest journey we've taken in ages— a 5:55 am flight out of Istanbul to Amsterdam with a six hour layover, then a seven and a half hour flight to Boston, and a two and a half hour bus ride to New Hampshire. The past week has been an absolute whirlwind of work, art, travel and nerves, that I forgot to mention I was going to the States.

With the flight to Amsterdam being so early, we only had about two hours of sleep and were barely awake when we boarded our flight. When I peeked into the pocket of the seat in front of me, I caught a glimpse of that familiar yellow spine— someone had left behind a National Geographic! Having been a subscriber for about nine years, I was ecstatic. I pulled it out with the excitement of a five year old, and discovered it was in Norwegian. This made Natasha burst out laughing, for I've had this long-standing joke about finding and marrying a Norwegian polar explorer.

"It's fate." She yawned, between giggles.

The main article was about Angkor Wat— a place I've always dreamed of visiting, and oddly enough, was just discussing yesterday with a friend of mine. It's funny how life can toss in these little coincidences.

When the breakfast cart came around, I decided to order a tomato juice for the first time in my life, in hopes of understanding why people order tomato juice on flights. I've never seen anyone sipping on a glass of tomato juice in a restaurant, but time after time, I've watched flight attendants handing small plastic cups of it to passengers with hospitable smiles. Looking at the thick red liquid at six something in the morning, my stomach churned, but I drank it anyway. It wasn't bad. I still don't get it.

Flying over Amsterdam at sunrise.My sister Natasha catching some sleep in Schiphol's Starbucks.My sketch of the scene outside the airport window of planes.
Six hours in Schiphol Airport is not very exciting or interesting. We walked up and down the length of the airport for the sake of exercise and exploration, then settled down in a Starbucks for some coffee and a shared BLT. Natasha passed out and I decided to draw.

Our flight to Boston was supposed to be a Northwest flight, so I was horrified to see a Delta logo out the window as we were boarding. Delta and I have not been friends— I've never had anything but nightmarish voyages on their flights. The flight attendants were generally rude— and once, while I was sitting next to the exit door, my pant leg was mysteriously stuck to the cabin wall. Confused and suddenly freezing, I looked down at my leg to discover that the entire cabin wall beside me was covered in ice. There was a leak in the exit door seal! Seconds later, the guy sitting in front of me yelped in shock, having realised he too, was stuck to the icy wall. When everyone surrounding us grew concerned, we called over a flight attendant who told us this was normal and not her problem. Normal?! And this is just one of my Delta flight stories.

So when I sat down in my comfortable seat and found it had its own video screen and remote control— in economy— I was pleasantly surprised. When the crew were nice to me and offered my sister and I huge glasses of wine, I was shocked. The food was decent and everything was functioning properly. How was this Delta? While I was hanging out by the galley to do some stretching, I felt compelled to ask one of the flight attendants what was up.

"You've all been so nice, and this flight has been really great so far— not my usual experience with Delta."

He listened with a thoughtful expression and a sympathetic smile as I began to tell him brief versions of my collection of horror stories.

"Hmm... I've heard this sort of thing before and I'm very sorry. But you want to know what the secret is?" He leans in close, and with a hushed voice and a grin, whispers "This is a Northwest flight in a Delta painted plane. We're the Northwest crew."

So there you have it.

Landing at Boston Logan Airport.
I'll be in New Hampshire for the next ten days— sitting by a fire, drinking tea and drawing, spending time with relatives, and stocking up on the things I can't find in Turkey. I'll be back in Istanbul in time for a fun New Year's.


Chris Menice said...

Fun story. What's the book by your coffees and Natasha's head?

szaza said...

Thanks Chris!
That's Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a wonderful book.

Balaji said...

That was interesting :-)

szaza said...

Haha— thank you Balaji.