My fondest memories from my youth (if I can now call it that), are the times I spent flying. I was barely one-year-old when my parents decided that the NRI-kid needed to fly to his hometown, and I travelled with the ‘rents every year to India ever since. Except when I “graduated” from Higher Kindergarten (HKG), and they asked me what gift I wanted, I told them I wanted to fly to India alone.

Ever since, I’ve travelled on the Unaccompanied Minor program of my favourite Airline, Emirates, and on numerous airlines shuttling me on the same route: DXB-BLR-PNQ-BLR-DXB. Year after year. Enough, that the old Bangalore HAL airport became muscle memory. I puked every time in the exact same spot in that airport. And it was always because I overate the night before departure.

But I digress. I shall tell you about more positive things about flying and airports. On my first Unaccmompanied Minor trip, I asked the air hostess to show me the cockpit – an audacious request that she was kind enough to oblige with. Soon I wanted to be a pilot. Then I got glasses and some rumour my mother put into me killed my dreams merely because I no longer naturally possessed 20/20 vision. (Though I am now part of Vision 2020 – whatay! [if you didn’t get that joke I graduate in 2020. Sorry])

Then I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer at one point.

You get my flight/drift. Planes fascinate me.

So flying on my birthday to Pune was pretty awesome. It was full nostalgia. Alone, at the airport. Not a care in the world. Chilling. Window shopping.

Till I saw Subway.

Now, mind you. I was very, very hungry.

My stomach spoke to me. “Buy the Subway”, it said. “You’ll demolish a Veggie Delite footlong easily”, it said.

Then the Subway slogan S became a snake and said, “It’s your birthday. You desssserve a Sssssub.”

So I bought a footlong.

And I was lost. Time slowed in my head, the extra olives, and Southwest sauce merging into a concoction of absolute delight, tickling my tastebuds and awakening my senses.

I bit into the Parmesan Oregano and the tomatoes and cucumbers filled vacuums in my stomach I didn’t even know existed.

Music played, people cheered and broke into a flashmob as my world spun round and round and upside down.

And then the footlong was done.

So I wrapped my Subway and put it into a trashcan.
(Cause I’m an environmental conscientious kinda guy, bro)

And continued to window-shop.

Somewhere, I heard a flight boarding to Nagpur.

I saw Chutney Cheese sandwiches, and for the first time, rejected their thought – to preserve the aftertaste of my Subway.

Then I thought I should check the time. I was surprised my flight hadn’t boarded yet.

Then time sped up.

Horns blared. Whistles were blown. Steel sounds were made. *CLANG* *CLANG* *CLANG*

I sprinted faster than Usain Bolt.

Hell, no McLaren P1 could overtake me.

I ran to the wrong gate.

Perspiration. Tears.

My Subway sandwich flopped in my belly like Pi flopped on his boat.

I cursed my sandwich for it’s deliciousness and not-so-fat-free-ness.

I ran.

I reached Gate 1 at 3.44.

Boarding closed at 3.45.

The lady saw me and asked, “Mr. Rao?”

I smirked in my head. That was the first time a lady knew my name before an awkward introduction.

“Yysysesees.”, I replied.
And realized I botched things up.

I was a minute away from missing my flight on my birthday.

And from the PA system blaring out “Mr. Rao, please report to Gate #1”.

Thank God for my watch.

I blame Subway. I still love you though, Veggie Delite.

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