First Flight of many: Heathrow to Delhi

I awoke as we passed over Tiblisi. Something brushed against my arm causing me to rouse with a start. Lifting the blindfold from my eyes the map on the screen ahead of me showed a graphic of a wee plane passing 11km overhead of the nation Georgia, 2000+ miles from home. Groggily I noted that we were making 616mph ground speed and tried to go back to sleep with intermittent success. The next time I checked we were passing just (a few hundred klicks) north of Kandahar: I made a bunch of my fist and saluted Lt Col Bates who was only minutes flying time from our position.
I wasn’t the only one awake. Gilly was some distance down the aisle stretching her limbs, Morgan was watching another movie and Josie had curled up across 2 seats having been awake for most of the night. The back row of an Airbus A340 isn’t the ideal place to spend the night – granted – but I was exhausted and somewhat taken aback that the rest of the Beers seemed not to require sleep. The phrase “they’ll pay for this when we arrive in Delhi” wandered across my mind and – upsetting – was spot on as we’ll see. (Spoiler alert: nothing too dramatic, just a teeny life lesson.) None of this bothered the New Delhi resident alongside me who was sound asleep before the aircraft doors were closed at Heathrow and didn’t stir until breakfast was served in Indian airspace. For the record. the ability to perch on a chicken’s lip and fall profoundly asleep – apparently an Indian competence – is a trait/skill of which I am mildly envious. A scan across the cabin showed snoozers draped across the furniture in all kinds of unlikely positions, whilst the Beers were wide awake along with other westerners watching movies.
Talking of staring mindlessly at screens… On the Friday before we left, I had to finish up with corporate life for 3 months, so was in the office pre-dawn quietly boxing off the to-do list. Pausing for breakfast in the staff restaurant with a key international operative – J – a legal secretary – who I hadn’t spoken to in months – wandered up and said “Oooh, lucky you” – or words to that effect. How does she know we’re off? Then a moment later, a european business manager tells me he’s “not jealous” [sarcastically] and I wonder how on earth he knows. Then I get a cryptic 2 word text from a petrolhead friend 100miles away “you’re famous”. Perplexed. Across the morning a bunch of people who I don’t regularly communicate with at work make various travel comments. It transpires that the Gruppenfurher had sent a text in to the Radio 2 (national) breakfast show. Presenter Mr Evans had included us in the 08.00 “Q: What are you up to this weekend” slot – A: “The Beers are going around the world!” – and said DJ took great delight in in taking the mickey out of our surname. So much for a stealthy getaway. After getting over that, much toing and froing ensued but work was done. Saturday and Sunday happened too and soon we were on our way to Heathrow with our swift yet safe chauffeur. (Thanks D!)
When you embark upon a milestone endeavour, it’s interesting to note other stuff going on around you. So our departure historically coincides with a Six Nations game being called off due to an iced pitch (with Ireland minutes from taking on France), Whitney Houston’s early bath (at 48) and thre Greeks failing to do a bailout deal. Oh wait, that last one could put us in all sorts of dates couldn’t it?
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Back to the skies. The joy – I’ll think of a better term later – of a round-the-world-ticket is that it fills the cheap seats for the airlines. We boarded VS300 – Lady Luck the legend on her nose, Virgin logo on her tail – at Heathrow by the front door and turned right. Then we walked on, and on, and on. Several postcodes later – quite possibly in Hounslow – we arrived at our seats. A very busy flight indeed, made mildly amusing by the usual shenanigans of folk who can’t seem to simply sit in their assigned seat. It’s of perennial fascination how the public can’t rattle along with the slick systems there to make it all work at 37,000 feet. There’s the tray returner – once you’ve finished your meal be sure to take the tray back to the galley straight away! – and the aforementioned seat movers. Of a different ilk are the meandering bargers. The latter are those who cannot walk up the aisle without bumping into people: makes me tetchy when I’m trying to kip. Personal space anyone? Anyone?
Still, it was a smooth trip and a gentle landing on time in hazy Delhi. Upon which, Josie May legged it to the small room at the back of the cabin and promptly threw up. EVERYONE has made some rueful remark about Delhi-Belly and – we reasoned – we’re bound to get a little tummy upset or three. It’s just that you would have thought that it would take more than wheels kissing the tarmac of the runway to trigger it!? Poor dear, she was wiped out… making for a stressful journey to the hotel.
Ah well, it’s not as if we’re going to be travelling for 3 months or anything is it? Is it? Oh, wait…

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7 thoughts on “First Flight of many: Heathrow to Delhi

  1. Mrs Batesy

    So, after manhandling three Bates boys into bed Sunday night, I switch on the news. There’s only a car bomb in Delhi. Big one apparently.
    At least that’s nothing for Gilly to worry about.
    Thanks for the ‘hello down there’ to the Colonel. He sends ‘love n hugs’ as does Chris Evans. Oh, and Illife.
    Your car’s been nicked by the way.

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    • Security in Delhi water-tight… Indian style. IE: let a lot of the water out. Rolling news here is the car bomb. Nothing to do with Indians they say: Israelis & Iranians? Lots of footage of firemen unable to open the bonnet of the smouldering car. Can you leave a note for the car thieves to watch out for the ABS fault, would want them to have an accident.

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  2. Jennifer Creese

    Poor old Josie! Hope she is feeling better now. Can`t wait for the next episode of the travelling Beers. Love, Mum and Dad

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  3. Debbie

    Can we have daily blogs like this please?! Love starting my day reading your witty prose. Hope Josie’s recovered. Dx

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  4. It’s not stressful, it’s an ‘adventure’. Repeat until blood pressure subsides to something approximating normal levels.

    Get in there and keep writing. Look forward to seeing more.

    Incidentally, if you haven’t read it already I thoroughly recommend picking up a copy of Paul Smith’s Twitchhiker for a catalogue of misadventures to avoid while travelling the world. Available on Kindle or in that old-fashioned format they call ‘book’.

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