Monday, October 24, 2011

The Journey to The Land of Dreams - Part1 MAA-JFK

Final Destination: Rochester Institute of Technology
Date:  24-08-2011
Intermediate Destination: T3 @ Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

Where do I start? The fond, tearful goodbyes to family and friends? The backslapping and all the bests and bon-voyages from close relatives? Anxious wait at the embassy for the F-1 visa? Or the mixed feelings when the postman delivered the stamped passport to you?
I have no idea how time flew in the countdown days. It all started with an awesome trip to Wayanad, of which you might have seen an entry. A few days of hogging and chatting spent at home, teaching folks how to skype. It has sort of become a norm hasn't it? Flying out of the country, teach parents skype. They need to communicate with you somehow. ISD does not come that cheap does it?

So, there came the D-Day. I strangely was devoid of emotion. Wonder if it is because I've spent all of my UG life and work life away from home. I don't know the answer to that yet. I'll probably blog about it when I get to know. No fancy farewells here. That would have broken the dam for sure. It was only me, Appa and Amma at the airport. We were just generally chatting around discussing random stuff. "All passengers travelling on the AI 539 flight to New Delhi are requested to proceed to security check". That announcement was a gong for me. I was actually leaving the country., ironically via the capital. Don't ask me what exactly is ironic about it. But I just felt it was.

All of you might wonder when I say I chose Air-India to fly. Why! Why that flight of all?? But I tell you, while there are some really Sh***y flights, there are some good planes it has. MAA-DEL has one of those sparkling new A321's with in-flight entertainment in Economy as well. And whats more? Its a full service flight. Pretty good food, a couple of the youngest air-hostesses I've seen. Ok, stop ogling and making a fool of yourself. Watch Wake Up Sid for the 2.5 hour long flight. Not a bad movie eh? Its one of my favourites. Wonder whats with Air-India? They surely have bettered their entertainment systems. Good sound, great picture quality. Wonder more on what people crib about even in this flight. Flight lands at T3.

I have been to T3 departures before and know how huge it is. But the arrivals side was a new experience to me. Why? Have a look! 

Bharathanatyam Mudras in IGI - T3

Bharathanatyam Mudras in IGI - T3

An assortment of Bharatanatyam Mudras! Mind boggling. Whoa! Now am seriously impressed. I heard about T3, seen a bit of it once, but this was awesome. Spic and span, devil's advocate in me tell, wait for a couple of years mate, and then lets see. Anyways, made my way through immigration, got my boarding pass (bugger's dint give me a window seat :( ) and made my way towards the boarding lounge. There was a Mercedes-Benz SL 65 on display! And then there was this.

A huge face of the Buddha, in pure bronze. OK! GMR Infra, you've got pretty much everything right here. There was a couple of hours of waiting time till I got to board my flight. So spent it loitering around, truly impressed by T3. There were walk-alators for getting to your aerodromes. Its a huge airport and you'll understand it when you visit it. I'd not seen any of the airports outside the country, but this is really the best I've seen in India. Walk-alators? Have a look.

T3 has a duty free shopping area too. That's huge as well. Lots of stores, most of them franchises of UB selling IMFL. A couple of perfume stores. Saw a model shooting an ad for one of them. God knows who she was, but as usual a huge crowd had gathered around. Wonder if they knew who she was.

My flight, AI 101's departure was announced. It was a new Boeing 777-ER. The executive class was a dream to look at. Wide bucket seats, separate LCD screens and all those nifty gadgets you might expect. Economy, well it was the usual 3-3-3 arrangement. It would get cramped if the person next to you was a bit portly. Unfortunately, that was to be the case.

There was an elderly guy, and a lady in the middle and window seats. Both of them took up pretty much 75% of the seat area, leaving me only with the rest. But as much weight I'd put on, it was enough for me to snugly fit. OK, this is comfortable. Switch on the in-flight entertainment, whats the movie list? Wake Up Sid, I Hate Luv Stories, Love Aaj Kal. This should do for most of the flight.

When the flight started taxiing, that's when you really come to terms with the fact that you are flying out. Loads of memories fill you up, you think of all the people who make up your world, those friends already in the US whom you've missed all these years, the exciting prospect of meeting them, you already start missing your loved once you're leaving behind, and the list goes on. Its a feeling like never before. You try to stay grounded, but your mind does not let you. All you can do is let the emotions take their toll and hope you fall asleep. That did not happen to me. I could not sleep. I remember being awake all the way, to the point one of the air-hostesses came and asked me if I was comfortable. All I could do was nod and continue watching the movie.

Memories in mind, food being served time to time, the maps showing you passing over Afghanistan, bit of Russia, UK, Iceland and finally over the Atlantic Ocean, here I was making my way into the land of Dreams. Port of Entry: JFK International Airport, New York. AI 101 promptly made its way into the aerodrome at terminal 6 at 7:20, ETA met. That was nice. As I step out, a signboard reads, Welcome to the United States of America. Well, I've truly arrived with dreams in mind.

JFK->ROC, that was a different story altogether. That will be my next post.


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