Most of us like walking with the cool breeze during winters, rubbing the palms together to feel the warmth of it on cheeks, sometimes the tender breeze also carry the fragrance of many memories of your loved ones, who are within us but not visible. They make you alive to cherish the moment, which you are in!!
And today, I was living in the moment, which wasn’t even close to my dream few months ago. The interview call letter, the selection process, those endless discussions of taking up this job. All those memories suddenly flashed in front of my eyes, as I stood in front of a long slender Aeroplane, the chariot of my dream in my uniform. The passion of doing something different in life, doing better every day in my training class has brought me here. Today was very special day for me.
The sunshine was there but breeze was cold and the tarmac was even colder. I remembered touching the” cold nose game” in which we used to touch each others nose tip to see whose is the coldest😁after every walk. And at this time I felt like climbing up to the cockpit window and touching the tip of the aircraft nose which must be freezing cold after flying 35,000 ft (11,000 miles), where temperature drops negative below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 degrees Celsius).Jokes apart!!
The nose of an airplane is very important to a flight. Like the tip of an arrow, it decides where the plane is going to go.That one part of the body which walks/fly ahead of the rest. I was imagining this round “nose” up in the sky amidst of the clouds making its own way. Same as, when we take a new path in life, the few dense clouds (situations) shakes us up and the path becomes hazy but if we keep on walking with the nose and head held high we surely gonna take the right path that leads to a perfect landing. Like Pilots are there to maneuver the plane during critical conditions, we too always have someone to guide us to that ray of light. And since every takeoff leads to a different path so one should also keep on exploring new ideas new ventures in life. I was travelling in my own world….
…..Just then a strong voice of a commercial person brought me back to the present time. The ground staff were all around the plane doing their part of job for a successful departure. I saw many ground persons, engineers with headphones, long trolley carrying luggage to the cargo, oil tankers refueling the aircraft, commercial persons in a hurry to complete the boarding,were busy around with the transmitters in hand which was emitting so many voices all together and the only audible word to me was“OK”. May be after few days, I will be able to understand the language better👍🏼,( I told myself).
Smiling over my silly ideas, I proceeded to the aircraft with others. We got divided into front and aft cabin and galley. All of them started pre-flight checks and I started following my check crew with all sincerity. She checked the Oxygen cylinders, Halon extinguishers, Water extinguishers, First Aid box, Emergency locator transmitters with validity, life jackets, public address system(PA), toilet emergency button, crew signs and many more. Along-with her checks my senior was also consistent with her questions on me. But, since the flight was already late and commercial staff just wanted the crew clearance to start pax boarding, and the catering personal was also anxiously waiting with his check sheet for her to sign, so she wasn’t giving much attention to my answers. Finally checks and catering done and the boarding was announced as she made a thumb sign (all OK) to the commercial person.
Soon two bus loaded with passengers and passengers loaded with heavy winter jackets with most of them carrying heavy cabin bags were there. My first duty was allotted which was greeting the passengers.“Namaskar” with folded hands and a smile. I loved doing it with one more crew, and I genuinely did it for all 119 passengers. Some of the passengers greeted back to us, some just smiled and some were upset about the delay so just passed by as if i did it.
So now the cabin was full, some people started looking out from the window while few families were still deciding who will be on the middle seat. Some were over phone and some with the newspaper. Just then a queue started building up from 10th row and soon reached up till the forward galley, my senior was busy stacking the breakfast casserole in the oven,so she asked me to look for it. I rushed and after two three failed attempts I finally used my high heels as a tall gentleman man was standing in front of me,and saw an old gentleman most likely an alone traveler was struggling to open his jacket with his leather bags belt hanging from his shoulders,and a continuous ringing Nokia phone entangled around his neck.He was trying to do put his bag in the overhead bin,answer the phone call all together so all the belts got stuck together and he was totally irritated. Passengers behind him were complaining but none of them helping,and that was blocking the entire aisle.With a strong determination, I tried squeezing myself in that narrow space with standing people in the aisle but somehow my “excuse me” was inaudible as none of them moved (guess my trainee batch was the culprit). Thankfully my senior came into the scene,and smartly squeezed in and her excuse me was so bold that people started moving and giving her way. She reached the troubled gentleman and in seconds took his blazer out pushed it in bin and shut it.Requested people to take their allotted seat’s,as the plane will start taxing soon.People rushed and strapped themselves.A crew started with her welcome announcement and we moved to the aisle with our candy tray and cotton balls. Passenger especially kids took their own good time to choose the best,other crew serving in the next row whispered me to hurry up. It was difficult initially but i managed it after few rows. Then came the “safety demonstration”. Almost half leaned people siting on the aisle seat were watching it more anxiously with their cheeks on their palm and big eyes. I was attentively watching too as I had to do it for the next sector (raipur-delhi).
Soon the airplane was on the runway and as I was flying as a passenger so went to my seat in the first row. The gentleman sitting next to me was happy with his sudden appeared co passenger. He proudly looked at his friend sitting on the window seat and smiled at me. I was happy to return him a bright smile and than the flight deck announcement “Crew at your station for Take off” came, I sat proudly as a crew for my first Take off !!!
The sixty second review also known as a silent review or mental review is a technique used by flight attendants during the critical phases of flight to focus and prepare them for a sudden emergency. Silent review is mentioned in 12 bullet points in our Emergency Handbook, which I have reviewed so many times that even today I remember each one of it. The crew was doing reveiw and I was looking at them as my curious eyes were not letting me concentrate, what will the crew do first after seat belt signs gets off? Are they talking to eachother? will they will audible in the cabin….n so on…
Just after takeoff I was suppose to report the flight deck as I could not meet them in the morning. And now since i was starving so the tummy was singing its own songs!!
As seat belt signs goes off, immediately got off from the seat, 3rd crew got busy in taking out the veg and non veg breakfast casseroles from the oven and stacking them in rows carefully. Trolleys which was secured inside were out and there was hardly any room for the me to stand. I was asked to pour water in the glasses after arranging them on the tray. It was a tough job which needed full attention and I did it, with no spills, about 13 small plastic glass in one tray (that time we use to serve water in the glasses) and after 2 years of doing that finally the bottles were introduced.
FLIGHT DECK AND ME
A call from the captain’s cockpit alarmed us, two sets of light appeared on the call panel above, senior took the call and I went to the flight deck with her and two black tea. I introduced myself, the officer sitting on the left hand side was the commander with four shining stripes on shoulders and the right side was the first officer with three stripes. The cockpit was full of controls panels,colorful lights and had an additional seat for a third person mostly AME (Aircraft Mechanical Engineer). The glass window was showing the beauty of the clouds, the constant changing colors from white to yellow and then splitting into different shades of beautiful blue, it was exciting to see how the clouds were giving way to the nose of the aircraft. In one word it was spectacular. I was also at ease to know that the first officer hails from my hometown. We exchanged a familiar smile this time.With a wish to see and feel the landing from the cockpit someday I got out of the compartment.
The service was almost done in the cabin and the passenger call button was continually blinking, from pillow to cotton balls, from candy to water (hot/cold), all was repeatedly being served. Tea was in the service but still everyone wanted a cup first. Though the cabin service was divided “until we meet” but still it was very exhausting. We all were hungry so decided to have breakfast one by one and i was asked to have it first, and my hunger and singing tummy did not allowed to show a little courtsey of asking them first. Rolling my eyes in all directions i didn’t hesitated to said okay!!!
The crew meal was different from the passengers and i opened the non veg foil. Took my cutlery and stood near the service door. The omelette with chicken sausages were super tasty (or I was super hungry), simply hogged on to it and was done in just 5 mins. Then went to the cabin to help the crew with the collection of the trays. We both were doing the alternate rows together and few trays were like a big pile of used tissues, spoons and forks peeping out and desperate to fell down, ketchup sachet were terribly squeezed from everywhere….and somehow the cabin clearance was done and the heavy trolley was pushed inside its cabinet and secured. The seat belt sign was now on as the descend had begun. Galley and cabin were being secured for landing. People were still in queue for using the lavatory and I was confused will the cabin ever be secured??
But as before landing announcement started people waiting in the queue dropped the idea of refreshing themselves and got strapped to seat.After the cabin and galley check the flight deck was briefed “Cabin and galley secured”.
Still few minutes were left for replenishing our makeup I quickly put some kajal and compact and a gloss for a smiling goodbye to the passengers and welcoming another 119 on board Raipur to Delhi!!
I looked down from the service door window and Raipur was just down. I went back to my seat, the smile was exchanged again and I sat for the first time after take off. we remained so busy that there was not a minute to even think that we have not sat. And just then the aircraft wheels touched Raipur smoothly.
My first landing on Swami Vivekananda Airport, formerly known as Raipur Airport, serving the state of Chhattisgarh, India was done. Its the 29th busiest airport in India by passenger traffic and 32nd busiest by aircraft movement. The temperature outside was around 85 degree Fahrenheit. Before the plane could come to a complete hault people started getting up and opening the overhead bins. Finally step ladder came and the door opened. I stood with Namaskar and they deplaned.
I could see many different smiles on each face…some were happy that finally they landed, some were happy to be back to lesser colder place than Delhi, some were happy to meet someone special and some eyes were simply excited and happy to be HOME!!
I remember a poem by Avijeet Das!!
“The memories come back,like the rainbow after the rain;
with all the hues and shades of color and an unending train,
the bougainvillea tree in my house where I grew up did not ask my name;
she embraced me as she had done in my schooldays in every way the same;
the little squirrel just now tip-toed down the lane,
looking at the spectacle unfolding in the rain.
after all these years I have come back to my home,
the clouds have different shapes but the air smells the same…..”
I stood near the airplane gate….took a deep breath in the air of RAIPUR!!
the plane was again getting ready for its next departure Raipur-Delhi!! the boarding was about to begin in 30 mins..stories were yet to unfold!!