Monday, July 23, 2007

Morning woes and “Simply-fly”

However hard I may try, I must concede that I am not a morning person. In different phases of life , in the last thirty years of existence , I have tried getting up early for various reasons and compulsions including morning walk, studies, meditation, compulsory PT and now household chores ….and though I managed the task at hand somehow( thanks to those bugging alarm clocks!), it was always very painful. I love my morning sleep. Though I also like the idea of watching sunrise or walking on the grass moist with dew and the gentle caress of morning breeze….let me be honest getting up early is very difficult. But like all other unfortunate kids of my generation, I always had school starting from 7-7.30 in the morning. Getting up, getting ready and reaching the school was such a race against time. Today I look at those days from the eyes of my parents, how many years of morning sleep they had to sacrifice to get us ready in time, tiffin and water bottle in tow and to make us reach safely to school gates. In big cities it is worse…today I find mothers dragging their half asleep children to bus stop (at times with bread or banana in hand) to meet the school timings.

On second thoughts, I feel guilty that I am cribbing as I have been very fortunate so far …at least on a comparative scale. Many others in my office have to start hours before me to reach on time …that too in overcrowded local trains and buses .Their day starts at early hours every morning. My sister who is a teacher and mother of two school going children, starts her day at 4.30 every morning…even in those impossibly cold months. Poor girl…my heart goes out for her. But then I had my due as well, in University days, my French class started at 6.30 AM and in the winter months by the time I reached the campus…my fingers were too numb to use the brakes of scooter and despite all those layers of wool on me, I felt like yelling loud – "Monsieur, Je veux dormir."

In those days I thought once I am out of studies, it will be just 10-5 office and my sleep will no longer be disturbed. But life…it had some other devilish plans. We had compulsory PT/Jogging in our FC training … and though very soon I started enjoying the drill…it was a drill nevertheless. Specially when in December, Mussoorie was very very cold. The biggest challenge was to get out of the bed and in Shimla later on, I had a roommate of matching talents…so two of us will first request then order and finally yell at each other to get up first.
Though I can’t help getting up at 6 on weekdays, my weekend sleep is precious. I can jolly well kill the one who breaches my golden hours of bliss on those two days. I have an instant dislike for friends and relatives who call at early hours on weekends. (And mind you 9am is EARLY on weekends!) ….but then not everybody is civilized these days…so on many occasions I have to make this supreme sacrifice of curtailing my trip to dreamland thanks to some bugger ringing my doorbell for a bill-payment or may be a promotional SMS on my phone. These days my enemy no one is my husband’s mobile….which disturbs my precious sleep on weekend morning and then again repeats the crime during weekend siesta. Ironically, every time it rings with its ringtone “ BE WHAT YOU WANNA BE…” I feel like throwing it down from the balcony….I mean Jesus Christ, I just WANT to be asleep . But then, not every wish is granted.
Today was also one such fateful day…I got up at 3 AM this morning . I had a flight to catch and the reporting time was 4 AM. And to make the matter worse, it was raining. Now, tell me how can you expect a sane person to get up so early and start on the streets when there is absolutely no one except street dogs and milkvans for company. But that’s life!
` So I reached Airport half asleep, hoping in the heart of hearts that the flight gets cancelled. But the sun god was in a mood to get back to work after days of laziness and soon it was a clear sky and my flight took off like a silver eagle awash in radiant hues.
But my morning woes already disappeared once I reached airport. I was surprised to find the bustling crowd even at that early hour. My first reaction was of empathy…poor dears, they too must have left the warm welcoming beds for this cold and crowded airport….and then I found that most people were looking quite happy and were curiously soaking in the sights and sounds of the airport. When I looked around I found the profile of air travelers has changed a lot in the last one year or so….mostly because now many more lower middle class families can afford to fly. It was these first time fliers who were enjoying the scene –crowd and confusion included, even at this hour. Some of them may be here since last night for this new experience of flying. There were giggling teenagers, awe struck couples, confused senior citizens and a group of very happy children. And I know the reason why they were so happy.
When we were kids air-travel was a thing of wonder. You would not find many friends and cousins taking the flight and whenever any such case was reported it generated immediate curiosity among the neighbourhood children. The recently-air-traveled friend would become a sort of celebrity and will be bombarded with questions – Did you feel scared? Could you see the clouds? Could you take out your hands from the window? How big was the aeroplane from inside? Were the airhostess pretty? …. And the answers, however much wrong …including half baked lies …were accepted with much wow-ing, applause and envy. (I still remember one such celebrity flier of neighbourhood found the “blue water” coming out from the flush of the toilet –the most interesting aspect of air-travel. He used the loo 8-10 times in that 55 minute flight just to marvel at that lovely shade of blue!)
But the scene has changed now. Air travel is no longer that expensive. Domestic airports in India are full of first-time- air passengers and no-frill airlines are doing huge business. But this also means that airports are crowded as never before and the poor infrastructure is crumbling under pressure . There are long queues at security checks, more cases of lost luggage and passenger problems. But for me the saddest part is the charm of air travel is gone. Its no longer that unusual…after all, as a budget airlines’ tag line screams on billboards -its “simply-fly” .

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