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.
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 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.